Retro-Writing Calls For Retro-Music: How Nick Gilder Became My Favourite Obsession!

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I recently started a new ‘project’. Yes. It’s true. I’m writing again. I took a few weeks off, due to…hmmm…lack of concentration? Yes. Let’s call it that. So, the new project is a contemporary fiction that takes place in the 1970s. Why the 70s, some may ask? I find that I fit most comfortably in the 70s and 80s. That’s my gentle way of saying I’m stuck in the past.

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The working title of this novel in progress is BEAUTY IS IN THE SKY OF THE BEHOLDER. It’ll be business as usual, as far as themes go. I’m a sucker for taking a character to the bottom of the pit and attempting to help them dig their way up out of the mire. BEAUTY will be another book with another sad-sack character who tries to find peace against all odds. Please…don’t try to read anything into this favourite theme of mine. (-;

Because BEAUTY takes place in 1975, there was NO question what my playlist would be. A list of one. ROXY ROLLER. Glam rockers Sweeney Todd were a favourite of mine that year. As much as I have spent a lifetime obsessed with T-Rex and Marc Bolan…I have also had Sweeney Todd rolled into that obsession. As a kid, I was THRILLED that Glam could be found in Canada. Todd was our version of T-Rex. So, before I typed in the title BEAUTY IS IN THE SKY OF THE BEHOLDER, you can rest assured that I dropped the needle on the Todd.

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But as I began writing the story, I quickly became more obsessed with the background music than the story-thread. As I’m a bit new to getting bum in chair again, I thought it would be a good idea to follow the obsession while I wrote. So Sweeney Todd’s Roxy Roller quickly transformed to Nick Gilder’s Hot Child in the City. The two songs are actually so perfect together, they could have been released as a mashed single like, say, Queen’s We are the Champions and We Will Rock You. Or, an even better duo single release, This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide. Alas, Roxy Roller and Hot Child in the City aren’t even by the same ‘group’. Hot Child was Nick’s hit as a solo artist, after he left the band for greener pastures.

 

So, here I am. I’m adding to BEAUTY every day, now. I’m getting back into the swing and discipline of writing. It’s feeling great. Writing is my salvation. And I have these two songs looping endlessly in the background. It’s kind of like being in Nirvana, but wondering where the hell Marc Bolan got himself to. Because, well, everyone knows Marc would be there. Glamming up a storm. But I have the next best thing keeping me company along the journey to discovering just what the hell BEAUTY IS IN THE SKY OF THE BEHOLDER is all about. I have Nick Gilder setting the pace of my story. And, he’s kind of a big deal here in Canada. In the history of Glam Rock (which is one of my favourite obsessions), Nick Gilder and his sadly defunct band, SWEENEY TODD, are a pillar. Not only are they a pillar…but they’re a Canadian pillar. For me, that’s important. It’s not often Canadian’s celebrate each other.

 

I am obsessing over these two tracks. I know I am. But this is what I do when I settle in to write a new story. I pick a song. Or two. And I play the shit out of them. Nothing transports me to particular moments in time more than music. Sweeney Todd were a huge influence in my life back in the day. I drop the needle on Roxy Roller, and it’s amazing how quickly the cell phones and computers and internet and microwaves and every other modern convenience to spring from the loins of humanity fade into the background. When I hear that incredibly sleek and singularly enchanting glamrock voice (a voice that I have defended in many arguments to be that of a MALE), I am 1975.

I’m off to continue the story. But before I go, I’ll leave you with Sweeney Todd and Nick Gilder. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. You will become obsessed.

First, ROXY ROLLER. Nick with his band, Sweeney Todd:

And, lastly, HOT CHILD IN THE CITY, Nick’s biggest solo career offering:

I’ve always been fascinated with music playlists and the novel. I often wonder how other writers feel about them. Myself, I need to be extremely picky to choose just the write song(s). I tend to stay to a list of one or two songs per project. Usually just one artist. I wrote my second novel, Sebastian’s Poet, listening to just one song…Anthem by Leonard Cohen. It worked for me. It may sound crazy…to listen to one song on repeat for all that time. But as writers we have to test everything…just keep doing things until we know, instinctively, that we’re doing the right thing.

So…what’s the story, morning glory? Do you playlist? Do you have a method or do you play whatever grabs your fancy? Do you find songs for each character? You know, like some wicked cool haunting song for scenes with the antagonist, and some less haunting more heroic ditty for protagonist face time. Let’s have it! What is your musical accompaniment process?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do believe I need to re-acquire a pair of roller skates! Nothing says Motorcity Roller-Rama (one of my old haunts!) like Sweeney Todd!

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My 1st Musical Loss…Bolan Boogie Music

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On September 16th, 1977 I was 11-years-old. Exactly one month before, a huge musical icon passed away. He was all over the news. Anybody alive on the planet at the time can probably still remember where they were, and what they were doing, the day Elvis died. The world hadn’t been rocked so heavily since the day Kennedy died.

I think it’s safe to say the world lost some of its innocence the day Elvis left it. Not that it was an extremely innocent place at the time. There was a revolution happening, after all–the dawning of a new epoch. But the world was rocked by the tawdry way in which Elvis died. Celebrity shit was hitting the fan. The lifestyle was not looking so glamorous. Not quite 10 years after the summer of love, 1977 was a hotpot of events. SO much happened that year; the commodore computer, the space shuttle program, Roots, the rings of Uranus, Toronto Blue Jays, Star Wars, the New York City Blackout, Son of Sam, Atari, Food Stamps, Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS and the Sex Pistols, Saturday Night Fever, and a ridiculous amount of plane crashes. Despite all of this, Elvis Presley’s death was probably the biggest news in the media.

Elvis was okay. The dude was pwning the charts…and rocking the movie box office. He was legendary. I will give credit where credit is due. He was among the daddies of rock ‘n’ roll, after all.

But one month to the day after Elvis passed, the granddaddy of punk was in a tragic car accident. THAT‘s the death that reeled my life at the time. I was a fanatical fan…and I knew we were in for decades of pure unadulterated awesomeness from this iconic monster of glam rock.

My favourite album at the time of Marc Bolan’s death was UNICORN.

unicornThat album is one of the biggest of my childhood. Marc Bolan kind of took your hand and said, “Uh uh…music doesn’t have to be conventional. You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing.” He was the best unconventionalist of his time. The man was a living miracle of sound. There wasn’t a T-Rex song I didn’t immediately love. Dude had more game than the industry he reigned over. Well, in my humble opinion anyway. The only guy who came close to him was Bowie. Bolan was Sky Church Music and anybody who wanted a pass could get in for free.

Today is kind of a T-Rex kind of day. I’m working on a novel that takes place in the early 80s. For me, that was a major punk rock stage in my life. But I was also extremely busy attempting to convert my fellow punks to the Church of Bolan at the time. I’ve been listening to Bolan a lot lately. His music really gets my creative juices flowing. T-Rex have been the soundtrack to more than a few of my writing sessions.

I place the odd musical homage into my novels. Music is such an important part of my life. I love to share my fav bands with my readers, when I can. Though this novel is not yet published (obviously, since I’m working on it), I hope it eventually takes that journey. (-: Here’s an excerpt from the novel in question, CHASING EMPTY. The excerpt is my homage to Marc Bolan…purely fictional, but typical of that period in my life. (-; The link will take you to a previous post on this blog…

CHASING EMPTY EXCERPT

Elvis may have died in ’77…but Marc Bolan definitely pwned the summer of ’77. His light went out way too early. I never stop wondering where he might have gone, had that car not hit that tree.

CELEBRATE SUMMER was one of Marc’s last nods. One of the lines in the song is, “Summer is Heaven in ’77“. Little did he know.

I’ll leave you with T-Rex‘s CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION…because that’s what we were: