Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seeing (and Hearing) Stars


I just recently heard that Stars, the audio version of Janis Ian's anthology of stories based on her songs (released by Audible and Brilliance) has received an Audio nomination for Best Multi-Voice Performance.

This is of significance to me because while the story I wrote for that anthology, "For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I'll not be Back Again," though it was finished at least a year too late for the print anthology, was included in the audiobook as a sort of amuse-bouche, an extra for those buying  it.

I haven't heard what Janis did with my story yet, though I am wild to do so.  But I know it's great because she did something extraordinary with it.  In the story, a musician sings a song called "Deirdre's Lament," snatches of which, not being a songwriter myself, I cribbed from a nineteenth-century poem of that name by Sir Samuel Ferguson.  So while she was prepping for the story, Janis wrote to ask if I'd mind if she made up a tune for it.

Would I mind?  Christ!  "Society's Child" was a very important song for me, back when I was sixteen (and she was fifteen).  Rather casually, I told her that I guessed I had no objections.

Then she wrote to tell me that she was giving me a co-writing credit.

"Nonono," I wrote back, "those weren't my words!  I can't take credit for them."

But it turns out that by the arcane rules of ASCAP, I can take credit for them.  So I now have a co-writing credit with Janis Ian.

The talentless singer-songwriter of my coffeehouse days would have been every bit as thrilled and appalled as I am now.

And the song itself?  I think it's a heartbreaker.  But then, as I said in the story, only Ireland and my family can make me cry.

In order to register the song, Janis had to make a recording of it.  Which she has very generously put  up to be heard for free on her website.  You can download it here.  It's a beautiful song, beautifully sung.  You be the judge.

Janis Ian is making something of a second career (or third or eighth) as an audiobook narrator.  She's also up for Audies for her narration of Miriam Therese Winter's The Singer and the Song, and as one of the readers of George R. R. Martin's and Gardner Dozois' Dangerous Women.  While still holding down her day job.  As a singer-songwriter.  I feel like such a slacker.



JJM said...

Wouldn't say you were talentless in the coffeehouse days. Although the tape has long ago deteriorated beyond recovery, I still remember, and love, "The Crows of Gabbiness" (however spelled).--Mario R.

Michael Swanwick said...

Gabby Nest. Oh, God, but that was a young man's song!

There was a rumor that that the legendary Roadducks had done a cover of "Sweat-Bottom Rogers," but they were horrified by that -- not that they'd cover the song, but that they'd do that without permission.

Patty Franz said...

You are not a slacker. It is a very lovely song. Looking forward to hearing the whole audiobook, but especially your story.

JJM said...

Young man's song, mayhap, but it has lingered in my mind for lo, these many years. That, to me, makes it a good one.--Mario

Ian Slutz said...

Not related to the post: I read The Peoples Act of Love based on your recommendation and found it to be wonderful. Best thing I have read since Roadside Picnic which you also recommended.

Please continue entertaining me and turning me on to new work to explore.

Michael Swanwick said...

I should do a post on that book, Ian. Not enough people have heard of it.