Building The Perfect Beast (Part 1)
Posted on February 14, 2013
A favorite subject of mine is music, but, honestly, music from a specific decade; the 1980s. I now understand what music of the 1960s mean to my parents because there’s just no decade of music like the one we grew up with. And I use music to this day, especially when I’m brainstorming, talking to myself or when I write. I find that certain songs and specific albums set entire moods in my head and provide the exact attitude I need in order to write scenes. The problem as I see it, though, is that I’ve gotten into a bad habit of listening to specific songs rather than albums as a whole. What happened to enjoying the entire thing rather than the bits and pieces? This naturally led to my thinking back to some of the albums from my favorite decade that I’ve come to love and cherish since their release. Wanna read about a few and perhaps share some of your own?
Let’s go. (heh heh…that’s a favorite song of mine from Wang Chung!)
Ooh, I totally feel like I’m about to gush a bit here and I don’t care because this is fun! Anybody remember Bryan Adams? You know, back when he was still making rock albums and before he was doing all the soundtrack ballads and soft rock albums? I actually don’t mind his softer side, but man do I miss the days of Reckless. Summer of 69? Somebody? Run To You? And who could forget Heaven? I used to go back and forth between this one and Dire Straits’s Brothers In Arms. Yes, I loved So Far Away, Money For Nothing, Walk of Life and the title track, but I’ve always, always had a special place on my playlist for The Man’s Too Strong.
I’ll always remember a former friend of mine, Jennifer Sobolewski, telling me that she loved Sade and found her to be ‘so artsy.’ My idea of artsy was Songs From the Big Chair by Tears For Fears. The group may have felt constrained when playing the songs live, but the whole album is completely bewitching. It’s moody, it’s mean, it’s grey and it’s restless.
Okay, read that last sentence again and tell me if you know where I’m going with my next ‘artsy’ pick. Any idea about the closeness to a song lyric?
Arcadia. Three members of Duran Duran went a colorfully moody route while the remaining two took the Power Station into much more Rock-oriented depths. But with Arcadia, So Red The Rose became an instant favorite. It’s unfortunate that it took until a few years ago to get our hands on a special edition of the album with all the mixes and longer versions of the songs. The phenomenal Rose Arcana went from just under a minute in length to 5 minutes. From Election Day to Goodbye is Forever, from Flame to El Diablo, and Promise to Lady Ice, this is a personal favorite.
Though the group hated the song that launched them to international stardom, it was (Don’t You) Forget About Me that got me to listen to and fall in love with the Once Upon A Time album from Simple Minds. I’ve actually continued to follow their releases. OUAT only contained eights songs, but each one is a little gem I never get tired of listening to, especially Ghost Dancing and Come A Long Way. Mmm…
Going back to something a little more in the vein of rock, I have three favorites that popped into mind I don’t dare not mention. One of my best friends from high school introduced me to the Nervous Night album from The Hooters and it’s something I continue to pull out and listen to. The album remains an infectious breath of fresh air from And We Danced, Day By Day, the moody Where Do The Children Go to the playful Blood From A Stone. It’s a shame these guys never managed to capture the energy of their first release in subsequent albums because this one was and still is simply divine!
The second of the two rock favorites would be John Parr’s self-titled debut. I first heard Naughty Naughty in the vampire film Near Dark and sought out the rest of the album. Parr later delivered St. Elmo’s Fire, but before that, he knocked my socks off with Love Grammar, Revenge and Don’t Leave Your Mark On Me. The man disappeared for a while, but suddenly came back with a double album last summer that didn’t disappoint. I’m just annoyed I missed his concert tour.
The reinvention of Heart created an album unparalleled in their long history and though they didn’t write all the songs on it, the results were incredible even if longtime fans were put off by the gloss and glamour of it all. I wasn’t. I loved it. I just wished they’d sung All Eyes during the tour in between Never and If Looks Could Kill.
Okay, I could seriously go on forever with all of this, so let me wind this one down with a REAL rarity. Anybody familiar with Baltimora? Remember the song Tarzan Boy? Yeah, that’s them. But have you ever heard the Canadian version of the entire album? Holy smoke is it fantastic!!! Living In The Background, Jukebox Boy and Chinese Restaurant are completely danceable. Even the ballad-like Pull The Wire and instrumental Up With Baltimora are ones I won’t skip over.
So there, I’ve gushed and there are so many more I haven’t even touched. Heck, look at the title of the post. I didn’t even get to Don Henley’s second album that I was listening to today when I picked Ralph up from the airport after his visit with his Hong Kong Grandmother.
Anybody care to share a couple of your favorite albums? I’ll try to get around to some rare ones later down the road if this turns into a fun discussion. I’m sincerely curious as to which albums have touched you in your life and how much we have in common.
I’ll see you in the comments!
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
3 Responses to “Building The Perfect Beast (Part 1)”
Julie L Hayes says:
February 14, 2013 at 10:10 am
Wow, Kris, what a fabulous topic, music. I love music, of all kinds. Well, most kinds. In all honesty, I’m not into most rap or hiphop, and country music has just now become a blip on my music radar (because of a new character I’m writing), but I am enjoying Blake Shelton and Keith Urban. I too listen to music when I write, and sometimes it’s a single CD played infinitum, but sometimes it’s a single song, repeated until I’ve had enough of it. When I was writing Revelations, I listened to Mister Mr.’s Kyrie quite a bit. In fact the original title of the book was Kyrie Eleison, but luckily a fellow author suggeted Revelations, and on reflection, it’s a better title and easier to pronounce. I also listened to the soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar too. Soundtracks are a passion of mine. A recent favorite in that genre would be the soundtrack from Skyfall. People complain that it doesn’t complain the title track by Adele, but as I understand it, the soundtrack was done before she even wrote it. Besides, it’s a quick and easy fix – buy the MP3, which I did, place it into the Skyfall folder on my computer and play them together. Problem solved.
I remember a lot of the albums you mentioned, but not all, and I definitely remember Bryan Adams and Run to Me, Summer of 69, etc.
Some of the soundtracks I find quite conducive to writing are: Kingdom of Heaven, Seven Years in Tibet (I like the music better than the movie), Repo! the Genetic Opera, Jekyll & Hyde (Robert Cuccioli only and please don’t mention the other pretender who shall remain nameless and talentless), Prisoner of Azkaban, Hannibal and Dracula.
Outside of soundtracks, I enjoy ES Posthumous (my sorrow at this band’s untimely end is infinite), Evanescence, Metallica, Apocalyptica, Meat Loaf (Bat out of Hell 1), Crash Test Dummies, and my Pandora stations, of which I have many.
Jesus Christ Superstar may be my favorite, since I know all the words, though.
Hope your VDay is a great one, Kris.
February 14, 2013 at 11:27 am
I can’t say I’ve ever been able to get into Country or Hip Hop even though I’ve tried. And, OMG, I saw Mr. Mister in concert for the Welcome To The Real World Tour! They were amazing and it’s a shame the third album sunk like a rock.
You are the only other person I know who listens to Repo. Loved that film and the music in it. Have you listened to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk? It’s one of my favorites. Just heard a new Tangerine Dream album last night, too, titled Edgar Allan Poe’s Island of the Fay and fell in love with the track Darkness Veiling The Night.
Sounds like we have some similar taste in rock and metal. Ever listen to Within Temptation or Xandria?
Looks like I’ll have to bring the music discussion out once a month or so, huh?
Julie L Hayes says:
February 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Watch my book trailer for Revelations – Kyrie is playing, and I love it! I never got to see them live, but I’ve seen a number of people, back in the day lol Musicals too, I love them. Saw Rex Harrison and Richard Harris and Topol, among others.
My daughters both love Repo, in fact Katie is the one that turned me on to it. At KawaKon 2012, I had a showing of Repo, right after Dr. Horrible one one night, Rocky Horror on the other. I haven’t seen the second Tron yet, but I need to. The first one blew me away. I’m a huge Poe fan, I should look that up. Do you watch the Following?
I love Within Temptation and Xandria both, also Nightwish. And Epica! Omg, I get the shivers listening to them play The Montagues and the Capulets from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
I think that would be a lovely idea, yes.