So earlier this week, I was hanging out at the local coffee shop, re-reading The Wise Man’s Fear for roughly the billionth time. Tightening and tweaking. Seeing what I can trim. Checking all the interconnecting plot threads like a spider with OCD going over its web.
I tend to hide in the back of the coffee shop when I’m doing this. A little bit of ambient noise is nice. It’s one of the main reasons I go to the coffee shop for this sort of work, actually.
You see, I have two problems when I’m revising. First, when I get into a book, I’m really into it. You can pretty much set me on fire and I wouldn’t notice.
Second, I’m working really hard to make this book really captivating.
Both these things work against me when I’m doing revisions. If I get pulled into the story, I enjoy myself, but don’t get any editing done. The sound of conversation and the occasional pretty girl walking by helps keep me from falling into my reading trance. Hence the coffee shop.
But too much bustle can be too much distracting. It’s a fine balance. On the days when I don’t need much distraction, or I’m just caffeineing up, I sit in the back room. They use it for shows some nights, but most days it’s just empty.
Okay. Enough background? I think so.
So I’m working on the book and some people come into the back room and start to set up their equipment. I look up and realize it’s almost 7:00. I’ve been editing for about 6 hours and lost track of time.
I get rid of my dishes and start to tidy up my table, thinking I’ll go somewhere else to edit. Maybe grab some dinner. But then the band does a little bit of a sound check…
At first I listen just to be polite. (I am from the midwest, after all.) But then I get pulled in. The singer has a voice like honey on warm bread. And the music is my favorite sort: Strong vocals, good lyrics. Some covers, but but a lot of the songs were original. Original and good.
They kept me there for the whole set despite the fact that I was hungry and I knew I should be editing. Still, I didn’t feel too bad. I do write about musicians, after all. I should probably occasionally watch people, y’know, make some music.
They had a pretty good patter too. They talked about music. About their lyrics. They told a few little stories, including how there was one song in particular they would start playing whenever they were out busking and saw a kid. Something about that particular tune always tended to draw the children over to them…
Afterwards I wandered up to the stage and reassured them with my standard line, “Hello, I’m not a hobo about to ask you for spare change. I’m actually a writer, would you mind if I asked you a few questions?”
They were delightfully tolerant of me, and answered a couple of questions. The drummer and guitarist both let me look at their hands to see what sort of callouses they had.
Then I asked my big question: “That song you played. The one you used to draw the kids over while you were busking…”
They said they knew what song I was talking about: “Strong Enough to Catch My Fall.”
“I don’t suppose you have a recording of that?” I said.
I said I’d love to see the lyrics sometime, but I didn’t push the point. The reason is, when I heard the song. I thought, “This is Denna’s Song.”
But I couldn’t just *say* that. Walking up to a band and saying, “one of my characters would totally sing that song!” has to be about the geekiest things it’s possible for a writer to do. I can’t say why, but to me it feels as geeky as walking up to a stranger at a bar and telling them about the time your favorite D&D character killed this troll this one time…
So I tried to play it cool rather than risk being that overenthusiastic guy. But before I left, I asked them if they’d like copies of my book. I’d listened to their show, they could read by book. Fair’s fair, after all…
A couple days later, they were nice enough to drop me an e-mail with the lyrics to the song. I read the lyrics, and thought, “Yeah. That pretty much hits the nail right on the head.”
When I e-mailed them back, I told them if they ever did record a version of the song, I’d love to put it up on my webpage.
The very next day, (today, in fact) they sent me this link.
I was surprised. I’d been thinking that to record a song you need a studio and one of those big boards with all sorts of knobs. And you need a guy wearing headphones to fiddle with those knobs while saying, “Let’s try those three measures again. But this time with more tremulentatso!”
Or something. I can’t remember any real music terms right now. It’s late.
The point is that I’m a little ashamed of myself. I immediately thought of recording music as this long, arcane, artificial process.
They thought: “He wants a recording? Find something that records and point it at us and we’ll make some music.”
And then they made some music. They didn’t piece together a song out of 20 different takes. There’s no pitch-tuner or mixboard here. You know why? Because these folks are real musicians. Making music is what they do.
So y’all should really go check it out. They recorded it specifically so I could share it with you, and it would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of that.
Did I mention that it’s the Hillary Reynolds Band? It’s the Hillary Reynolds Band.
If you want to hear more of their stuff you can head over onto their myspace.
They’ve got a few shows listed there too. So some of you might be able to catch them live if you’re in the right part of the country.
That’s all for now, folks. Enjoy the music.