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 #32. Biblical tropes aside, floods are some serious shit. I live in a somewhat wavy part of the country—driftless is the geological name for it—and almost every year there’s at least one-to-three days of rain that ruins lots of things. Back in 1995, a large part of a nearby city, the part was called The Flats, was beyond fucked due to a flood. Two years ago, an elderly-yet-spry man I know was the only casualty in a minor flood that broke suddenly and swept his car off the road. Water is indifferent.
The flood in this story keeps coming back once a year every once in awhile as well, and the carnival described is actually a take on two local events of local importance: East Dubuque’s Fun Days and The Kieler Picnic. To the best of my knowledge, there’s never been a kissing booth, but I’m sure there has been young boys trying to figure out their newfound sexual feelings and directing them toward a woman old enough to be their mother. (Again, Oedipus and Freud had a lot of shit down.)
I was never a big Bob Dylan fan, though I’ll always respect him for the pathways he’s made in American songwriting. This song was one I was unfamiliar with, a deeper cut (to me) from Blonde On Blonde. I was stunned at its length and narrative, the number of versus and the loose, wavering arrangement. Fitting in the shamed woman who is still desired by a single entity was easy, but the language and imagery I was able to pinch from Dylan’s lyrics really made a lot of the lines and, at the end, the arc itself work wonderfully.
And of the end, it’s one of the few where there’s a bit of a surprise that changes the entire last section. I’m normally against surprises—they’re almost always cheap gimmicks that do-away with the possibility of rereading—but there’s always an exception. And just like Dylan himself, this song is an exception, and I’ve loved it ever since.
(Also, Patrick Fleming of The Poison Control Center was one of the most appreciative people to work with me on this project, and I cannot thank him enough. His band rules and you should definitely check them out.)
Tomorrow: A story named "Refund" that is based on the song "On To You" by The Constantines. Suggested by musician Kevin J. Frank of Haymarket Riot.
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Pre-order the book if you want what's dead to live.