In my book readings, I’ll be calling up the power of music as well as story. I’m having several book readings coming up and I’m including music I’m wild about. Great music from the ’60s, music I’ve been listening to with stars in my eyes still. Yes, and the words too mean something still. Like this song.
This is the music the characters in my novel, Dreamers, listen to also. Like “So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen.
As I wrote Dreamers, I heard music all the time. I put that music into the book. There’s 32 pieces of music mentioned, classical titles, pop and rock & roll, plus other genres. Think of Elvis, Arethra Franklin,the Beatles, Dylan, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Simon and Garfunkel and The Youngbloods. Remember this one “House of the Rising Sun”?
Dreamers is full of music. My next reading is June 21st, Thursday night, in Boulder Creek, CA a sixties town if I ever saw one. I’m reading from the first scene in the book which begins with Annie sitting in the Pittsburgh International Airport waiting for Thomas to arrive. It’s 2008 and she hasn’t seen him in nearly forty years. A song by folk artists Peter, Paul and Mary is playing over the airport loudspeakers. Here’s what it might have been. John Denver, the composer, is singing along too.
Dreamers takes place in 1966 when Thomas arrives back home at Christmas after five years away in New York City, trying to make it as an actor. Returning to his family home, he hears his sisters and son listening to WAMO, a radio station in Pittsburgh. Back in 1966, there wasn’t any hip hop just a lot of R&B, blues, jazz and pop too.
When Thomas’ Momma arrives home that evening from church choir practice, she laments that Thomas should have been there with her to sing “Amazing Grace”. Here’s a powerful version of that traditional spiritual. Amazing Grace by the Soweto Gospel Choir, South Africa
Also in Dreamers are Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel and other classical composers that Annie, majoring in violin, knows well. In one of the first scenes I read from, Annie’s coming out of the Pittsburgh Playhouse, having just seen an outrageous production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream put on by the Negro Ensemble Company of New York. As in Shakespeare’s time, all the actors playing women are men–black men in this case, shocking casting in the volatile Civil Rights Era of America. Annie has the music of Mendelssohn gliding through her head as she steps out into the cold, Pittsburgh night.
No wonder when Annie passes a tall, dark, handsome man on her way up a snowy Pittsburgh hill, she mistakes Thomas for the actor playing the King of the Fairies, Oberon.
In my book readings this summer, I’ll be calling up the power of music as well as story. And just for this Thursday, we’ll be having our own Midsummer Night’s solstice ceremony. Here comes the sun! By you know who, The Beatles.
Check out all my upcoming events. There’s music in them!