Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

I’m a writer and a music fan, so I often think of the lyrics to my favorite songs as short stories. A couple of the best elements are usually there—from isolation, desperation and validation to heartbreak, betrayal and revenge. Some songwriters create easy to follow narratives, while others make you tease the story out. Great songs can make us imagine exactly what the songwriter envisioned, but it’s more fun to create our own version of the story as we listen.

Lately I’ve been digging deeper with daily posts that re-imagine lyrics through the lens of short fiction. I can’t promise that I’ll keep up this pace, but I’m having fun for now. I call the series “Short Story in a Song:”

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Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

I’m a writer and a music fan, so I often think of the lyrics to my favorite songs as short stories. A couple of the best elements are usually there—from isolation, desperation and validation to heartbreak, betrayal and revenge. Some songwriters create easy to follow narratives, while others make you tease the story out. Great songs can make us imagine exactly what the songwriter envisioned, but it’s more fun to create our own version of the story as we listen.

Lately I’ve been digging deeper with daily posts that re-imagine lyrics through the lens of short fiction. I can’t promise that I’ll keep up this pace, but I’m having fun for now. I call the series “Short Story in a Song.” Here are the first twenty:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Some Songs Make Great Short Stories

I’m a writer and a music fan, so I often think of the lyrics to my favorite songs as short stories. A couple of the best elements are usually there—from isolation, desperation and validation to heartbreak, betrayal and revenge. Some songwriters create easy to follow narratives, while others make you tease the story out. Great songs can make us imagine exactly what the songwriter envisioned, but it’s more fun to create our own version of the story as we listen.

Lately I’ve been digging deeper with daily posts that re-imagine lyrics through the lens of short fiction. I can’t promise that I’ll keep up this pace, but I’m having fun for now. I call the series “Short Story in a Song.” Here are the first fifteen:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song — “Common People”

I was a big Blur fan when Britpop happened in the 90s. I always preferred their precious take on The Kinks vein of British blues rock over Oasis’ fascination with Beatles-based psychedelia. Since then I have come to the conclusion that Supergrass was ultimately my favorite band from that era—who can go wrong with melding Bowie and The Stones? But none of those bands wrote the perfect Britpop short story song. That honor goes to Pulp in my book.

What starts off as a tale about an unlikely one night stand, quickly turns into a scathing indictment of class and wealth. Our narrator is a working class guy out on the town who encounters a young woman of means. She buys him a drink, expressing interest in sleeping with him to find out how the other half lives. He starts by taking her to a supermarket and asks her to wander the aisles pretending she has no money. She laughs him off while he explains that being rich keeps her insulated from the cold reality of a world that offers no relief beyond dancing, drinking and screwing. Sure, she could lay in bed with him watching roaches climb the wall, but if it got to scary she could always be rescued by her father—and that makes her a tourist.

Read the full lyrics for Pulp’s “Common People” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Interrogation—John. L. Thompson

JLTWho: John. L. Thompson

What: When he is not searching for lost remnants of the old west or working his fingers to the bone, he can be found working on multiple writing projects. Thompson is known to have worked as a truck driver, heavy line diesel mechanic, armored truck guard, and corrections, along with a host of other professions. His true passion is collecting vintage books, writing and is the editor/publisher for Dead Guns Press.

Where: New Mexico

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Dead Guns Press publishes “stories written in the new era of pulp…” Can you explain what that means? How did you become a publisher?

Answer to Question One: It’s pretty simple. Have you ever read the old stuff? I mean like stories from the old pulp dime mags from around the thirties and forties? There were some amazing stories and publications written during that time frame and some very prolific writers emerged from that era that had, and in some cases, they still have a hold of a large group of current readership. You got writers such as Phillip Jose Farmer, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Mickey Spillane (to name a few) who broke the market and pushed the edges of the literature world with their cutting edge stuff. Farmer wrote about sex with aliens, which was a taboo at that time within the realms of sci-fi literature. Asimov, one of the largest prolific writers with some 500 titles to his credit, wrote across many genres including mystery, science fiction and fantasy. He explored many aspects of science including robots. Robert Heinlein is another writer who influenced a large group of readers with his books STARSHIP TROOPERS and A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. A note to add about STRANGER is that Heinlein would get the occasional hippy knocking on his door to thank him for that book since it helped influence the hippy culture back in the sixties. Remember Heinlein was best known for knocking out Military Sci-Fi. What I mean by ‘new age of pulp’ is just that. Even though you don’t see pulp mags anymore, we still got ‘pulp internet’.   We’re currently in the midst of change in the writing world as these literary giants of old pass on and I believe that you got tomorrow’s prolific writers just starting out within the last few years.

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Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#24)

I had a room-mate in the mid-90s that produced a fanzine from our living room. I mostly helped him assemble and staple it prior to shipping, but I also wrote the occasional review or interview. It was a pretty good trade-off given the amount of new music that was mailed to him on a weekly basis. That’s how I discovered Guided By Voices, Zumpano, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Railroad Jerk and a host of other 90s Indie rock bands. Among my many musical discoveries during that period, Jonathan Fire*Eater remains one of my favorites.

The band had a crypt-kicking, 60s garage rock sound mixed with a dramatic darkness shared by bands like The Cramps, Pulp and Nick Cave. “Give Me Daughters” was on their 5-song 1996 EP, Tremble Under Boom Lights, which established them as critical darlings. This narcissistic tale starts with a hypnotic organ line before crashing down into the story. Our protagonist envisions his demise via a motorcycle accident, causing him to wish for children who can carry on his bloodline. It’s a murky vision of a future where he hands down his peculiar wisdom to three daughters that worship at his feet—and possibly the only one in which he survives into old age.

Read the lyrics for “Give Me Daughters” HERE.

Previous installments in this series:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been published by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

New YouTube Channel For Your Ear/Eye Holes

 

I have been doing a weekly music feature on this blog for the last four months called “Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song.” And now I’ve created a YouTube playlist to go along with it. I’ll be updating the playlist every week as I add a new song.

The series is an exploration of the lyrical narrative in some of my favorite music. Last week I posted my 21st installment about the classic Whiskeytown track “16 Days.” For those of you new to the concept, here’s a complete list of all the songs featured to date starting with the most recent:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been published by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Interrogation: Christopher Black & Matt Phillips

Redbone_CoverThis week we’re interviewing a publisher and one of his newest authors at the same time. Should be interesting. Let’s see what happens…

Who: Christopher Black & Matt Phillips

What: Christopher Black is a noir writer of little note and editor-in-chief of Number Thirteen Press—a project to publish thirteen quality crime novellas, one on the thirteenth of each month for thirteen months. He is passionate about crime fiction and films with a special interest in all things noir.

Matt Phillips’ short fiction has appeared in Pulp Metal MagazineFlash Fiction Offensive and Powder Burn Flash. REDBONE, from Number Thirteen Press, is his first short novel. A new novella, MESA BOYS, will be published this year by Severest Inks.

Where: Christopher Black lives in London. Matt Phillips lives in San Diego.

Interviews conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Number 13 pressChristopher, how did you come up with the concept for Number Thirteen Press?

C.B.: The driving idea was that I love novellas and short novels and see these as the perfect format for a certain style of crime/noir writing—think of THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? or THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, or the more recent work of people like Allan Guthrie. Novellas have been out of fashion in mainstream publishing for a long time, but with e-publishing they are suddenly back with a vengeance and I wanted in on the action. But I didn’t want an open-ended project that could fizzle out: thirteen seemed a good, memorable number, it gave me definite end date and one book a month provides an impetus while being something to keep readers interested and coming back for more.

Matt, what made you want to submit REDBONE to Number Thirteen Press?

M.P.: Number Thirteen Press is publishing thirteen crime novellas/novels in thirteen months, consecutively, on the thirteenth of each month. When I heard about this, I thought—that takes some balls. I mean, think of the work involved. Why submit? Here’s a simple answer: Quality. The books they’ve published are good, damn good. A more nuanced answer is that REDBONE, to me, was pure noir, but I thought it was just different enough from what Number Thirteen had already published—it’s sort of a murder ballad-noir. Last year, I had a novella rejected by Number Thirteen (now, that sucker is in a fourth draft).

So, I did what any real writer does, I sat my ass in the chair and wrote another book.

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Christopher, your most recent release, REDBONE by Matt Phillips, is the seventh—so you are half way through. What have you learned about publishing along the way that you didn’t know before? What has been the most rewarding part of this experience so far?

C.B.: The most rewarding parts are the beginning and end of the process: going through submissions and getting excited about a writer with a lot of talent and a story with potential, and then finally seeing the end product and how excited the author is to get their book out to the public. In between is a lot of hard work, but all the authors have been really up for it and produced some stunning stuff.

As for what I’ve learned: everything else, from typesetting to social media. In particular: e-publishing is easy but producing quality manuscripts and books takes an incredible amount of time and effort.

the-mistakeMatt, do you feel any special honor or burden being the seventh release in a thirteen book cycle? Other than your own, which Number Thirteen Press release is your favorite?

You know, any time your work is published, it’s an honor. Halfway to thirteen is pretty damn cool in this case. Like we say in California, I’m stoked. This is my first book, so I feel a huge sense of pride and disbelief. I mean, I actually did it, right? But also, it’s like, I made all this stuff up… in my head. And now it’s out in the world. Kind of a trip.

Alright, at the risk of being pummeled by my fellow thirteeners, I’ll pick two favorites: OF BLONDES AND BULLETS by Michael Young and THE MISTAKE by Grant Nicol. The first is Number Thirteen’s initial release and it sets the tone—hard-hitting noir about how a good deed can really put a guy in some shit. The second is so atmospheric and well-written… Noir at its best. And, for good measure, it’s set in Iceland.

Click here to read the rest of the Christopher Black INTERVIEW 

Click here to read the rest of the Matt Phillips INTERVIEW

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#2)

I was big Blur fan when Britpop was happening in the 90s. I preferred their precious take on The Kinks vein of British blues rock over Oasis’ fascination with Beatles-based psychedelia. Since then I have come to the conclusion that Supergrass was ultimately my favorite band to have come out of that scene—who can go wrong with melding Bowie and The Stones? But none of those bands wrote the perfect Britpop short story song. That honor goes to Pulp in my book.

Read the lyrics ffor “Common People” by Pulp right HERE.

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.