Take The D Out Of Davis…And…Well, You Get A Car Rental Company
Posted on April 15, 2015
I’ve had conversations about music with authors over the years and, typically, we either love listening to it while we write or we’re completely incapable of it because it just distracts us. I happen to be one who LOVES listening to music when I write because I can always find something to help set the mood for what I’m working on or find myself inspired by something I’m listening to. For me, music can be a color, a temperature, a location, an emotion, and/or a destination. The end of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation was written to Suddenly Last Summer by The Motels. Now imagine after years of being inspired by artists, actually getting to see some of them not only play live, but play the songs you wrote to. Welcome to why I took a short trip to NYC last week.
Some of you may remember my post last summer where I mentioned taking my husband to see a concert featuring Naked Eyes, Martha Davis, Patty Smyth, and the Go Gos. Let’s call it what it was; music nirvana for someone who grew up listening to these artists. The event was made even more special due to the graciousness of Martha Davis (also a contributor of a Face of Gay post), who set tickets aside for the hubby and I that included backstage passes. Not only did we get to see Martha play, but we also met her.
Martha Davis isn’t just a singer; she’s a songwriter and musician. She’s also an incredible lyricist. That, in my humble opinion, is the key to what elevates her over numerous others. During her NYC show, Martha introduced a song, stating “Now we’re going to get really depressing.” The thing is if she hadn’t said that, I’d never have known based on the music itself, which was uplifting. The other audience members and I had to listen closely to the lyrics because they told a very different story. She captured one mood and inserted subtext, creating another. I believe authors try to do the same thing. Ultimately and if done well, it creates depth.
My friend Monique joined me at the NYC show and it was the first time I’ve literally had front row seats at a concert like this. And when The Motels took the stage, we had the opportunity not only to listen, but to see up close and personal Martha’s physical interpretation of the songs. The song Careful comes immediately to mind. Yes, she was singing it, but if you watched her delivery and physical gestures, she was also telling you a story and that, to me, was a defining moment in the show. That’s when I started to “get it”, “it” being the difference between performing and sharing, between singer and artist.
It occurs to me that I left something out when describing Martha Davis. Yes, she’s a singer, songwriter, musician, and lyricist. She’s also a person. A mother and grandmother, too. Authors, whether we admit it or not, put something of ourselves in our work. We can put our triumphs in it, our failings, our longings, and our regrets. Martha does the same thing, only it’s often cleverly disguised in a four minute song. It’s when you go below the surface that you really get a glimpse of what she’s trying to tell you.
I consider it an honor to have had some conversations with Martha during the past two years. No, I don’t know everything about her. Her personal business is none of mine. But when she’s chosen to share something with me, I love, appreciate, and respect the fact she presents herself not as a classic rock star—though she is a ‘classy’ rock star—but as a vulnerable human being. It’s been my pleasure to make her laugh, to share some of my stories with her, and get to see her perform.
And you know what? Guess what she sang during the NYC show? Suddenly Last Summer…a song I first heard as a thirteen-year-old boy with a budding imagination who remained inspired by it twenty years later when I wrote the end of my first novel. That kind of staying power, ladies and gentleman, can only come from an artist.
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.