After a several year dry spell, last year I wrote not one, not two, but three new songs. This one is the last of the three, and the second one I wrote since finally copping to the fact that songs don’t always have to be novels. Short stories are a fine art in and of themselves.
It’s based on the Friedrich Nietzsche quote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Think of it as a sort of open letter to whatever doesn’t kill me. In keeping with that, I have cleverly titled it, An Open Letter To Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me. It’s a very brief song… like the whole video, including titles, is only 2 minutes long. But its history stretches back to the mid-80s. I’m going to tell you 3 brief “sub-stories” before getting to the video itself.
So, if you’re a tl;dr sort, you can click the link above and go straight to YouTube to watch it. (But then, if you’re a tl;dr sort, I wonder what the hell you’re doing following me?)
(Before I forget to mention it, the joke behind the song is thanks to the Dunn Lumber at 93rd and Aurora in Seattle, who posted it on their reader board.)
I’ll have a few last words below the video.
Andrew’s Muse Story (sub-story 1 of 3)
In the mid-80’s I was heavily involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism–aka the SCA, a medieval re-creation group–and was living in an apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, WA. (In SCA terms, that meant I was living in the Kingdom of An Tir.) Besides me and my then ladyfriend, there were two other SCA folk in the building.
One of these folk was Andrew–and damn, I can’t pull his last name out of my head right now–who was, amongst other things, quite the poet. He’d been overheard (misheard, actually) by a passing knight, saying something that the knight perceived as dissing the ladies of An Tir.
Since Andrew has something of a game leg, he did not participate in the armored fighter part of the SCA. This made it impossible for the knight to honorably challenge him to a duel in the lists. So instead he told him, as penance, he had to write a poem praising the beauty, wit, charm, etc. of the ladies of An Tir and read it at the banquet of an upcoming tourney. Andrew said (at least, mentally), “Challenge accepted!” and set to slaving over it for the next several weeks.
Yes. Weeks. It was an opus.
When he finished he was understandably happy and he came dashing down to the apartment where me and the aforementioned ladyfriend lived. He read it for us and we showed the appropriate appreciation–because it was good, that’s why–and he went happily back to his place. Probably to get some much needed sleep.
But one line in the poem just sparked me. I took it, twisted it around, and within a ridiculously short period of time had churned out a poem built around it. It was only two stanzas of six lines each, not an opus. I was tickled anyways and dashed up the stairs to read it to Andrew.
He listened, blinked a couple times, and then said (at least half jokingly), “How dare you have a 10 minute muse?!”
KW’s Song Advice (sub-story 2 of 3)
Back in about the same timeframe my guitar guru, K.W. Todd, had made a complementary comment on one of my songs. I muttered on about how, yeah, I was generally happy with it and had been playing it at open mikes to good response, but I wished I’d done this or that bit a little differently. But now that all these people had heard it I didn’t want to change it.
K.W. said, “But, Hobbit, it’s your tune! You can do anything you want with it.”
OK. Yeah. I heard that, but didn’t really absorb it until later. Indeed, much later.
Phil’s Short Story Lesson (sub-story 3 of 3)
Here’s where the three sub-stories converge.
Back in mid-November, Phil Doleman, my online pal from England tweeted,
I surprised myself by suddenly writing and recording an EP over the last week. Sometimes it happens like that, and you don’t argue :-)
You can get it from Bandcamp, name your price (which includes free :-) )
My first reaction, of course, was “How dare you have such a prolific muse!” (Yeah, Andrew. I feel it now, bro.)
I went and listened to it and noticed that the longest song was on 2:18 long. I’d never written a song that was that short. But I have notebooks full of song bits I’ve come up with and not been able to expand out into what I would consider a full song. So why not try a short story song? Within a week I’d finished a song called “Hemoglobin Overload,” fleshing out a song snippet I’d had around for years.
So… thanks, Phil!
Check out Phil’s EP, Might Never Happen.
The Video At Last
(This has a NSFW rating because I drop an F-bomb. Just one, because it’s a surgical strike. Too much collateral damage happens when you carpet F-bomb.)
Oh No! Not Another Learning Experience!
I’m still learning the LumaFusion video editor, so the Picture-In-Picture stuff isn’t as tidy as it could be. Also, I somehow set the camera to “focus on faces” mode and every time I moved it changed focus and mucked up the lighting.
If you’ve read this far, please do me a large favor and drop a little comment here, even if it’s just “Hi, Hobbit, I read the thing.”
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