Song Lyrics as Poetry

I was thinking once again about song lyrics and their close connection with poetry. It’s a useful exercise to remove prejudice by looking at things in a different light or even by shifting preconceptions,by pretending that an art work,piece of writing,dress,shoe,car,motor bike has been created by a different artist,designer or factory. 

                             

Read the poem below,and,if I fib and tell you that it was written by a 4th century Sufi mystic prophet who preached a policy of non-violence,free of all possessions including a home,living at one with nature by wandering the land,then you’ll see it differently to what it really is……

 
 
 
Wherever I May Roam

…and the road becomes my bride
I have stripped of all but pride
So in her I do confide
And she keeps me satisfied
Gives me all I need

…and with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave
Rover wanderer
Nomad vagabond
Call me what you will

But I’ll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll redefine anywhere
Anywhere I may roam
Where I lay my head is home

…and the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
Under wandering stars I’ve grown
By myself but not alone
I ask no one

…and my ties are severed clean
The less I have the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign
Rover wanderer
Nomad vagabond
Call me what you will

But I’ll take my time anywhere
I’m free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll never mind anywhere
Anywhere I may roam
Where I lay my head is home

But I’ll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind
And I’ll take my find anywhere
Anywhere I may roam
Where I lay my head is home

Carved upon my stone
My body lie, but still I roam
Wherever I may roam

 
 Heavy Metal fans might have recognised it as this :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oKqEWxia9Y
The lyrics describe the roaming life of a musician on the road,travelling from gig to gig on a concert tour very well – while conveying an existential view of the world. Written by Metallica’s lead singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich,you wouldn’t look at these two characters and think they were poets,now would you ?
Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield

Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield

 
Magnificent stuff,but most folk who are prejudiced against such a style of music simply wouldn’t listen to the words. It’s amazing how much we miss,isn’t it ?

Brigitte Bardot meets Pablo Picasso

During the 1956 Cannes Film Festival,Brigitte Bardot visited the studio of Pablo Picasso. Escorted by her husband,the film director Roger Vadim,it’s thought that they wanted the artist to paint her. He refused,as he already had a muse,the ‘ponytail girl’ – his next door neighbour Lydia Corbett.

BB and Picasso

BB & Picasso

bbpicassobardot1

picassogirlwithaponytail

Are women hardwired to love thrillers?

A report in the Telegraph newspaper last week,written by thriller author Rebecca Whitney,highlights how it is women who predominantly read this genre of crime novels.

whitneysmall

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11440540/Thrillers-and-crime-novels-Are-women-hardwired-to-love-them.html

As Mark Twain observed – ‘There are three kinds of lies : lies,damned lies and statistics’ Some of the research findings quoted in this report,such as 68% of readers of thrillers are women,need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Any survey is dependent for its accuracy on many different factors. What’s produced from a poll taken at a conference of fans of crime fiction would produce different results to a street survey of passing shoppers.

This newspaper report makes a number of sweeping generalisations about how the sexes are hardwired differently,that had they been aimed at proving differences between the races,would have caused outrage. Nevertheless,the writer’s thoughts on how women relate to working out how to resolve an unhappy situation to restore order,is a precise way of summing up what happens in the story arc of a thriller.

Crime stories are one of the best selling genres of fiction,with the figure of 25% commonly bandied about for online sales. This partly influenced me,when I was thinking what to write about for my first novel as 2014 began. I’d already written fourteen short stories and novellas,as well as several hundred poems in the previous eighteen months. These tackled love and romance,science-fiction,the paranormal,self-identity and thrillers with a twist to them.

I had a number of concerns that I wanted to address about the state of modern society. These included CCTV,the dehumanising effects of video-gaming,exposure to violent images and how demobbed soldiers remain traumatised by what they’ve seen and done in combat zones. Such themes suggested a psychological thriller to me,and as part of the overall atmosphere of paranoia that I intended to create,I would emphasize how the system,the establishment,protects itself with cover-ups when it makes mistakes.

I worked long and hard on ‘The Perfect Murderer’,which took some 4,000 hours to produce. I was pleased with the result,while being unsure if it worked as a story that would grab a reader. Fortunately,a good and trusted friend volunteered to be my first reader. She has a fine mind and keen eyes,so is good at pointing out semantic mistakes and dodgy grammar. I was interested to know what she would make of the plot,as she doesn’t normally read thrillers.

The Perfect Murderer - a novel about a serial killer who makes no mistakes.

The Perfect Murderer – a novel about a serial killer who makes no mistakes.

I was pleased at recent feedback that I got from her,as she said something about smiling at the thought processes of a psychopathic murderer. This man is completely repellent in the way that he considers people,and in what he’s done by murdering a victim a year for forty years,but he’s superficially charming – to get what he wants from people,as psychopaths do. He also has his own physical frailties and eccentric preoccupations,so I tried to make him human through these – wrong-footing the reader,who suddenly realises that they’re feeling sympathy for a serial killer ! It looks like I pulled that trick off,from my friend’s reaction.
Writing is a bit like being a magician,in that you know how the trick is done,but you’re not sure if your sleight of hand and misdirection has worked on the audience.
Whether ‘The Perfect Murderer’ will sell is another matter. Its success may be assisted by my bumbling attempts at self-promotion through the social media,and also by my free book giveaway on Smashwords.
I hope that what Rebecca Whitney says about women being the main readers of thrillers is true,if the downloads of my erotic verse collection is any indicator of my potential reading public. 500 have taken ‘What Do You Like ?’,and I suspect that they are mainly female. I pray that they also like psychological thrillers,and that they remember my name when I publish the novel.
As a marketing strategy,giving away sexually suggestive poetry as a way of selling a novel featuring two sociopathic killers,sounds unlikely to me. But then who knows ? As the old saying goes – ‘You have to go fishing where the fish are’,which is what I’m trying to do.
I wonder if my bait will work.

Different Versions Of Your Book – A Riposte

Fay Weldon recently asserted that a writer should produce two versions of their book. One for those capable of concentrating enough to understand a literary paper book,and another lightweight Kindle text to entertain those with limited attention spans.

Although she was being provocative,garnering press attention in the process,she has raised some thought-provoking issues. There’s been research that shows how those who use e-reading devices are less able to recall details about what they’ve read,compared to those who have just taken in the same story on a hard copy.

Author D.J. Taylor launched a riposte in today’s Independent newspaper.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ebook-apartheid-fay-weldon-calls-on-writers-to-adapt-their-style-for-technology-10093420.html

He makes some valid points,but has chosen to ignore the one saving grace about the whole situation – people are reading. As a wise aphorism goes ‘ A non reader holds no advantage over someone who cannot read at all.’

When I worked as a librarian,I sometimes wondered at the choices that people made when borrowing books – but at least they were reading. If they started with something that wasn’t very challenging,then they might move onto a novel that made them think.

Mind you,some readers take their devotion to an author to extremes. I once knew a man who only read Stephen King stories,and he collected them in all of their different editions,books covers and foreign language versions. He had a room devoted to them,with thousands of books lining the walls. It was like being in a sinister temple.

It reminded me of a joke : A man goes into a pub,and orders a stiff drink from the barman. He looks depressed,so the barman asks him what the problem is. The man replies : ” My wife left me,and all because I like cheese sandwiches. ” The barman is puzzled,replying ” But there’s nothing wrong with cheese sandwiches. I quite like them myself – cheese and onion,cheese and tomato,cheese and pickle – lovely.” The drinker’s face lights up : ” Wonderful – you understand – would you like to come back to my place,and see my collection ? I’ve got hundreds ! “

Different versions of your book – racy and literary.

After contemplating becoming a transvestite in another posting today ‘Self-Publishing And The Sexes’,I’m also pondering the advice given by Fay Weldon.

Fay Weldon

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/fay-weldon-interview-abandon-your-dignity-and-write-a-racy-pageturner-10086140.html

She reckons that we should write two different versions of our book – one for traditional publishing,which is literary in tone,and another dumbed-down racy version for readers who use Kindles and other e-reading devices. This means ” abandoning one’s dignity.”

After eighteen months of trying to sell my books,I’m not sure that I’ve got any dignity left – and if I have,it’s probably slipped down the back of the sofa and is beyond retrieval. Fay Weldon has a history of making tongue-in-cheek provocative statements,but I think that she may have a point.

I’ve mentioned in other blog postings that I’ve been giving my ebooks on Smashwords away for free. I started this three months ago,as a promotional tactic to help launch my novel. It’s also a basic form of market research,to see what draws readers. I’ve tried changing tags and book covers,to see if this increased the downloads of a title that was being ignored.

The only conclusions that I’ve made,is that people like sad titles,rather than happy ( who’d have guessed that ? ),as well as titles with a name in or that’s in the form of a question. Unsurprisingly,any mention of sex or erotica helps to shift copies – so bear that in mind when choosing your descriptive tags and book title.

This is proved by the success of my first volume of erotic verse,which is called ‘What Do You Like ?’,with the subtitle ‘9 Erotic Poems’. This has been downloaded 500 times,as of today,which makes it the most popular of my forty-four free titles.

Fay Weldon’s advice may impel me towards a career writing torrid romances featuring villainous lovers with smouldering eyes,heroines with heaving bosoms + of course,the obligatory randy vampire and horny werewolf !

Self-Publishing And The Sexes

A report in today’s Guardian newspaper makes some interesting claims about self-published books.

In particular,I was struck by the figure that 67% of books on the top ebook publishing platforms are written by women. This percentage comes from an organisation that’s new to me,called Ficshelf.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/06/self-publishing-lets-women-break-book-industrys-glass-ceiling-survey-finds

They claim that 61 of the top 100 traditionally published books on Amazon are written by men. This is seen as further proof that men rule the long-established world of book publishing. Male writers dominate in lists compiled by newspapers for best novels.

Somehow,none of this surprises me,for I’ve always believed that more women regularly read books than men,and there’s a tiresome old boy network among book firms. It’s unusual to find a literary agency or publisher that has a woman as CEO.

It’s food for thought. Perhaps I should become Pauline Whybrow to publish my ebooks that have a romantic and spiritual theme,to encourage more female readers …

It might confuse the taxman,which would help.