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Friday, May 18, 2012

A Writing Experiment: Part 2

 
           I'll admit that sometimes I get fixated on things, but I feel like when I do I have good reason to do so--then again I'm biased.   On my Wednesday post I presented two versions of the same story.  You may wish to go back to read these very short pieces before continuing with today's explanation of the origin of the story.

         One of my latest fixations came about while putting together a post  for the Sad Songs Blogfest hosted by L. Diane Wolf at Spunk on a Stick.  Anyone who knows my blogs well knows that I enjoy writing about music.  This Sad Songs Blogfest was something I liked so much that I put together lists for all four of my blogs.

          One song in particular stuck with me well after the blogfest was over and I decided I wanted to make sure more of my readers had an opportunity to listen to this song.  I included this song on my Sad Songs entry at A Faraway View.  When I first heard Steve Forbert's "Make It All So Real" back in the early 1980s it impacted me immediately not only with the quality of the song and melody, but I found the story rather powerful.

           It's a simple tale that consists of snapshots taken from a few different perspectives.  We don't get much detail, just enough to show us that we don't always know a complete story.  Our perceptions of others can be very deceptive when we don't know all of the facts.

           In my Wednesday post I first presented my hastily slapped together version of a prose narrative that is essentially a summary of what is depicted in the song.   The second version is the actual Steve Forbert song written in a narrative fashion, although I think it was probably pretty obvious to most readers that this was a song or a poem.  You may want to read through the comments to Wednesday's post to see some of the reactions to my two story examples.

                    If you had read the two versions prior to reading this explanation did you guess that the second version was a song or poem?   What are your thoughts on this song and the songwriter's approach to telling a story?   Have you ever written a story based on a story told in a song?   Can you think of an example of a story you have read that was based on a song?   Am I being overly obsessive about this song?   If you'd like to listen for yourself here it is:



Here are the lyrics to "Make It All So Real" by Steve Forbert:

Take your seat in the table
watch the cabaret fill
Ted came down for the singer
He saw the name on the bill
how the minutes were draggin'as the audience grew
Ted was growing impatient as he swallowed his brew
" It's time to welcome the artist " he heard somebody say
saw a face in the floodlight an' ev'rything
was ok....


Singer man do your work. Sing your song. Make it hurt.
Sing the tears. Sing the pain. Make it all so real.


Then the singer was singing all his serious songs
and his Band wa a-playing ; Ted was hummin' along.
Meanwhile back in a corner there was a table
for two.
Where sat the singer's cute lover snd she was
drinkin' a few,
all snuggled up with a stranger who had his hand on her tigh,
she was receivin' his message an' gazing into his eyes...
So the sound came a-rollin',tumblin' into the night
an' all the people were ravin', sayin' " Man our singer's allright ! "
An' " Such a burnin' performer ! " " What a fabulous show ! "


Little lover was stirrin'. She was ready to go.
An' while the singer was wailing she got up to depart.
The crowd was stompin' an' cheering. She was breakin' his heart...
Ted was feelin' terrific as the crowd filtered out
ravin' on 'bout the hero, there were whistles an' shouts
There was a guy with his sweetheart.
Ted came walkin' on past.
he could hear what was spoken. He could hear what she asked.
( She said ) " Don't you envy the hero ? "
An' the fella answered his girl 
" Yes. He's the ultimate singer. He's on top of the world ! "



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29 comments:

  1. Thank you for introducing me to an awesome song Lee, it's truly amazing. I just found the second story to be poem like, the first story was my favourite anyway, it really blew me away.

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  2. Yup. I agree with Mr. Waffles.

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  3. That really is an interesting experiment.

    I've never tried or saw something like that before, or maybe I have, but just didn't know it.

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  4. I've never read a story based on a song before. This is really interesting. You did a great job. I've never heard the song before, so thanks for sharing it. Anytime you feel passionate about something, it's a great thing.

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  5. Hi Lee - I like how you are willing to stretch yourself with your writing! I think this inspiration could be used to fuel a full length story. I've written stories (not so many - they always turn into novels) and lyrics. Lyrics that sound stupid on the page have a totally different feel when there is music put to them obviously. As to your question - yes! I have a murder mystery weekend biz with two pals (going on thirty years) and a number of years back I became obsessed with Dylan's Jack of Hearts and wrote a weekend entirely based on it. We performed it twice and I don't think either time people got what we were doing but they, as always, loved the weekend. I felt completely obsessed - crazed even! It was way fun. With modern day balladists it is hard not to be inspired to play out the story they allude to. I find other artistic approaches always enliven my own. So keep on keepin' on...

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  6. Really enjoyed both your Wednesday post and today's. It's interesting how a poem/song has to leave much to the reader/hearer's imagination...and fascinating to see the results when that imagination is indulged! Loved your version, especially the part your fleshed out about the singer seeing the pair leave, his heartbreak poured into his songs and the contradictory admiration and envy of the audience. Great stuff!

    Yes, Carrie Underwood's version of the Randy Travis song, "I Told You So" (talk about a sad song!) really got to me a few years ago. I dug out what I'd written about it after reading your post today and realized I'd never posted it on my blog - did so today. Thanks for the inspiration and an enjoyable morning!

    Elaine
    www.aheart4heaven.blogspot.com

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  7. The second one definitely read like song lyrics but didn't know it was based on a real song.

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  8. wow! thanks for the introduction. I like the 2nd one most

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  9. haha so it was kinda a trick--i surely thought the second version was more like a song or poem- great idea--love the song---and although it didn't become a story of sorts--anytime i hear a song with a lot of background story, or that you know has a lot of background story--i think of my favorite--harry chapin's taxi---you are always interesting and a little sneaky ;)!

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  10. Yeamie -- I think it's a pretty awesome song that tells a story in a succinct way.

    Shelly-- Thanks for the comment and visit.

    Misha -- I know stories have been based on songs. I just can think of any other than a recent blogfest concept that I saw done by Ashley Prince.

    Ciara-- I know that often I become passionate about things that not many others can get as excited about.

    Jan -- Glad to find another passionista. I always feel like if I really like something I'll try to share it with as many people as I can. Maybe at least a few will see what I have seen.

    Elaine --I prefer the song version to mine. I so few words Forbert has presented a fantastic view of irony. I will be checking your post.

    Alex -- You caught it!

    baygirl -- I like the 2nd version best as well and I love the song.

    Lynn -- Yeah, I guess I was being a little tricky, but I wanted more people to listen to this song. "Taxi" is another one of my favorite songs with a great story to it and an interesting ending.

    Lee

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  11. I missed your post on Wednesday. My video card died, taking my computer with it. I'm pleased that my blogfest inspired you though.

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  12. I have written stories based on songs. Blues and Pink Floyd, in years gone by, have all inspired stories.

    As I told you yesterday, I preferred the song. It leaps into the stratosphere when the accompaniment is introduced.

    Excellent experiment, Lee.
    Red.

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  13. I had read the second version as a poem but didn't think of a song lyric.

    As a poem, it didn't work for me, but reading a song lyric without hearing the music and the singer's voice robs the lyrics of their meaning.

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  14. L.Diane - Loved the Sad Songs Blogfest.

    Red -- I think songs can be a great source of inspiration since they can be fleshed out so much in story form.
    I with you on preferring the song.

    L.D.--Forbert's delivery in the performance adds so much. The instrumentation gives the smoky barroom feel to it all and you can hear the emotion in Forbert's voice. Lyrics read on their own come across kind of flat especially when you don't realize that it's a song.

    Lee

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  15. So, I guessed it:
    "The second could easily be a song from which this scene was derived", though it was the other way round...song first, story second.
    I wasn't a fan of either, so sorry about that. But I liked the concept. More fleshing out of the story, and not as fast on the writing! I got fixated on that part!

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  16. I get hooked by songs and singers too, crying at sad songs and dancing to the happy ones. This was an interesting experiment from a very interesting blogger. I won't pass judgement on the stories, Lee. You just need to run with your ideas and see what happens.

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  17. To me, as song IS a story. It is distilled down to just a few minutes with some rhyming, a beat, a melody and harmony.
    Many Kitty Wells songs are sad all right.

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  18. Donna -- I purposely kept my version of the story pretty bare because I was trying to make my retelling as close to the song version as I could. I agree that the story could be filled out more--not something I think I would care to do because I think Forbert powerfully accomplished the telling in the song.

    Patricia -- I'm not so much as interested in doing anything with my story version as I was wanting more people to listen more closely to the song and tell me what they thought about it. Like you say, I sometimes will get very hung up on a particular song.

    Anthony -- Many good engaging songs are stories and that what I think draws us to listen to them and remember them. This was especially the case with many of the old ballads that were passed on through oral tradition. I think a lot of pop songs don't tell much of a story as they express feelings or certain opinions or ideologies. But a great story song can be a lasting work of art.

    Lee

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  19. This is super bodacious, Lee! I truly mean that. This could be a novel. You are very inspiring. I am going to do this the next time I need a writing exercise. Who knows what might turn up. *waving*

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  20. Okay, this is a new song for me, but I like it. The lyrics are pretty good... kind of reminds me of a country song:)

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  21. Just goes to show what we miss out on without the music and rhythm to go along with the 'storyline' of the lyrics. I always pay close attention to lyrics and love story songs, but I hadn't ever heard this one before. Fun idea!

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  22. What a clever sir you are. Listen, even if you are being obsessive with this song, there are no judgements here. I feel just that way about "The Sound of Silence."

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  23. I know and like that song. I also enjoy the 'bare bones' version and song, but then I do like to think. Most times, life is not what it seems. The truth lies between the lines.

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  24. Robyn -- Thank you! Pick a song sometime and let us know about your results.

    TF-- I think Steve Forbert does have some country roots and the story in the song is reminiscent of some country songs.

    Jasmine -- I'm usually the opposite. I don't often pay that much attention to the lyrics, but this is one song where they really grabbed me.

    Nellie -- Actually I've had a sort of obsession with "Sounds of Silence" as well--what a great song!

    Nigel -- Thank you.

    faraway -- The side of the story we don't see is the doorway to our imagination. That unseen side is the theme of this story.

    Lee

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  25. Great tune Lee! Excellent lyrics too..I love Steve Forbert's voice...what's that other tune he had...."meet me in the middle of night let me hear you say everything's alright..."? Can't think of the name of it, but that was a good one too...so many great songs, so little time!
    I love the idea of a story based on a song. I've never tried that myself, but it might be an interesting experiment.

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  26. Interesting writing exercise Lee. Gives some thought for short story inspiration. I've never tried writing prose based on a song.

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  27. Eve -- "Romeo's Tune" is the song you are referring to and it was his biggest hit.

    Paula --There are plenty of songs our there that could be given the prose treatment.

    Lee

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  28. I didn't have a clue what you were up to with the two versions, but now that I do, I appreciate it. I love how a story unfolds in songs, and I've been tempted to do something with Lizz Wright's song, Take the Black off a Crow. However, now that Madonna's had at it, I think I'll leave it as a song.

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Lee