Monday, December 19, 2011

Working Hard Ain't Hardly Working


I'm playing hooky today from all the obligations and chores, answering of emails, posting of packages, scanning of contracts, and suchlike, to just sit and write.  I'll probably work on three or four of the stories that I'm actively engaged in and put in a little more wordage on one of the novels.

In the picture above, you can see some of the post-it notes I use to keep track of what's on the front burner.  The pink slips are novels, but only the top two are being actively written.  The rest are just there to keep them in mind.  The green slips are short fiction, and most of them are more than half written.  Mostly, though, they're alive in my imagination and jostling for attention.

And so I have a question . . .

I'm writing a scene set in a bar just before the Chicxulub Impactor kills everybody and somebody sits down to the piano and begins to play Hey Jude and The Sloop John B, which go over well, and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, which bombs.

Which got me to wondering.  What songs would be good to play if you knew nobody was going to make it to morning.  Closing Time by Leonard Cohen?  Or maybe It's The End Of The World As We Know It?  

Bar music, obviously.  If I were alone, I'd put on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Any ideas?

Above:  Yeah, my desk looks like a tip.  Creation is not pretty.  You should have seen God's desk when he was creating the universe.



Ken Houghton said...

Iirc, "Closing Time" is Rebecca DeMornay's greatest contribution to modern culture. (Iiri, it's the next track on the album.)

The REM is a bit, er, jaunty. (The band that learned "Born to Run" from Ron Carter never managed such a transformation of its own track, to my knowledge.)

Mahler's Ninth would be an obvious choice, though the arrangement for solo piano might be daunting.

Tom Lehrer, if you believe your audience is as old as we are.

But if I had to pick only one song, it's probably the hoary old classic, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Which should be greeted as well as "Sweet Chariot."

Or maybe you just want to go back to McCartney: "The Long and Winding Road" or "Here Today."

(Btw, from an ethnomusicologic perspective, "Hey Jude" is the only one of the three that isn't a traditional North American "folk" track.)

Tom Lawrence said...

"Life Going By" from the 1996 album Ear Candy, by King's X. Not only is it a brilliant bit of musicianship, but it's a short memoir in allegorical form. That's what I would play... before putting on the Taproot album, by the late Michael Hedges and pouring a Guinness to wait until morning.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

"Come on up to the House" by Tom Waits (off the Mule Variations album). Even if the world isn't ending you should listen to it now and then to brace yourself.

Messy desks and god: This cartoon probably speaks for itself, but it may help to know that the computer language Lisp is refined, beautiful, and not used, while Perl is grubby and practical:

Peeking behind the curtain: One of the most enlightening things I've ever seen is a rough draft of one of Thurber's essays. It was rubbish. And this was *Thurber*.

Lars said...

Um, everyone sitting about in a bar just before the Chicxulub impact would be a dinosaur. Hard to say what sort of music they'd like.

Bookmama said...

If it's a bar near a harbor, you might hear "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her".

Matt Keeley said...

I'd second the Tom Lehrer suggestion, and I think he still retains a following amongst some younger people. I'm in my twenties and a fan, for what it's worth. "We Will All Go Together When We Go" maybe?

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall?" (or Dylan's later "Shooting Star" which would be an off-key choice, but kind of sort of fits asteroid impact)

(This is why I don't score films)

I wish those pink slips were a little higher-res. I think I see a Darger & Surplus and some dragons?

matthew brandi said...

"Sloop John B"? I was listening to Pet Sounds again this evening. What a miserable record! Beautiful, but slit-your-wrists miserable. If my time machine's broken and I'm staring death in the face, not what I'll choose.

Something life-affirming for me. Maybe "Samba" by Pivi et les Balladins. Or John Dowland's "Fine Knacks for Ladies."

If my fellow barflies are tolerant, free jazz.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

Lars wrote:

> Um, everyone sitting about in a bar just before the Chicxulub impact would be a dinosaur. Hard to say what sort of music they'd like.

Probably this:

Michael Swanwick said...

Ulrich Elkmann, who doesn't have a Google account of any variety, sent me this comment:

The Promise Ring, 'Say Goodbye Good'

Not quite sure if it's bar music; but at least it's over 6 minutes long.(Actually, some blogger posted this as an appropriate soundtrack to the €€€ crisis some weeks ago - as a preparation for TEOTWAWKI light, so to speak: the Mayans may have been wrong about 2012, but we are working on it.)

Michael Swanwick said...

Many thanks, folks. A number of these are new to me so I'm going to spend the day listening to them.

Actually, The Sloop John B. does put a kink in the evening. Great sing-along song, though.

Michael Swanwick said...

Actually, there are two Darger & Surplus stories among the slips, Matt. I'm working on one of them today.

Chad Hull said...

Ya Damn Right, I've got the Blues by Buddy Guy