My upcoming book of short short stories, Shake Away These Constant Days, originated as a project called Our Band Could Be Your Lit, in which I wrote a story under 1000 words every week. To generate this much content, I based the stories on songs suggested my musicians and writers from around the world. The original idea was 100 songs, 100 stories: find the creative common ground between two mediums and cultivating the virtue found therein.
Until September 25th, I'll be doing a blog post a day about the stories in the book. After that, it's all up to you.
Originally OBCBYL #33. When Kristian suggested this song to me, I assumed he was fucking with me. I didn’t want to write about “Smoke On the Water” for the same reasons I didn’t want to write about “Have A Cigar” by Pink Floyd. There’s too much culture attached to either one, and separating it is another task entirely from writing the story. How can I do anything with “Smoke On the Water” if I can’t peel away the history of annoying kids in guitar shops playing that riff?
I knew the story already, or at least a somewhat factually-incorrect version of it: Frank Zappa and the Mothers burnt down a nautical recording studio with a flare gun and the members of Deep Purple saw it and wrote a song about it. Eventually, through some manipulation of the lyrics and a tiny miracle of the imagination, I came up with a story about a man in a plea-bargain employment situation, babysitting rich, violent idiots in hopes that his future self will be better.
I think this one took a lot out of me. I had come back from an OBCBYL hiatus earlier on in the year and been pretty faithful to the updates. After writing “The Vikings,” I took a long break to sort of recharge. I was also recording the first album with my band, Legal Fingers, which required a lot of on-the-spot guidance to turn my shitty Ace Frehley licks into something I wouldn’t mind having on a version of a song forever. Sam Snoek-Brown—the unofficial OBCBYL editor—took over for a month or so while I got my shit together.
I can’t read the name Ricky without thinking of Trailer Park Boys. I was steamrolling through the entire series at the time and had time for pretty much nothing else when it came time to relax. Around this time I also named a character JP, which was Julian’s real name.
Writing about money—I’m a janitor, so I have none—is a good way for me to subtly point out that we vote with our dollars with everything we buy or don’t buy, and too much of our lives are built around being a consumer. It may be for the better that it’s subtle, because whenever I have an opinion I can elaborate on, I always sound like a maniac and an idiot, which is exactly what everyone else with a dogmatic opinion sounds like. I think I offset all of this by having a scene involving wrestling at the end, but even that could go back to the Million Dollar Man: everybody’s got a price.
Tomorrow: A story named "Signal" that is based on the song "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd. Suggested by writer Don Balch.
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