Donna Summer: All You Need Is The Voice

“The voice to me is the greatest gift… You need no other instrument, all you have to do is sing…and it’s there.” ~ Donna Summer

When I saw this quote from the late, great Ms. Donna Summer I thought it was a perfect, concise summary of how Angel Brown feels about singing.

Early in Blood To Blood, Angel says singing was her waking dream… “the only thing I could see myself doing forever.” Throughout her struggles she holds on to the only thing she has – her voice. Even when it turns against her.

Like Donna Summer, a classically trained singer who made a name for herself in the Top 40, Angel embraces the music of the soul even as she belts out bubblegum pop.

RIP Donna Summer, and mad love to all true singers who dare to live their dream.

Donna Summer – “I Feel Love”

My Muses: Cocteau Twins

One music act that has influenced my art (writing and visual) consistently is Cocteau Twins, a Scottish 80s goth band. I first got into them through a roommate and almost immediately fell in love with their sound. Although no Cocteau Twins tunes appear on

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

my Blood To Blood playlist, I still listened to them while writing.

For those of you that don’t know, there were no twins in the group. The lead vocalist, Elizabeth Fraser, is probably best known as the voice on Massive Attacks’ classic “Teardrop.”

They disbanded some time in the late 90s, and I always thought it was a crime that a band with a sound this ethereal never got the recognition it deserved. Many would agree, the music is timeless and atmospheric.

My go-to albums are the darker ones where Elizabeth doesn’t bother to sing real words but somehow the lyrics are packed with life-changing meaning.

Treasure is my breathless favorite and features a number of songs that are on the playlist to the follow-up to Blood To Blood

 

  1. “Ivo” – 3:53
  2. “Lorelei” – 3:43
  3. “Beatrix” – 3:11
  4. “Persephone” – 4:20
  5. “Pandora (for Cindy)” – 5:35
  6. “Amelia” – 3:31
  7. “Aloysius” – 3:26
  8. “Cicely” – 3:29
  9. “Otterley” – 4:04
  10. “Donimo” – 6:19

My Top 3 from this album…

1. “Donimo” always leaves me wanting more. This one song has inspired a number of scenes involving angels:

2. “Pandora” I cried when I first heard this. Sometimes I still do:

3. “Lorelei” – Rather happy but just as ethereal

Very Honorable Mentions:

“Pearly Dewdrops Drops” What human words can describe this song? Surely this is the sound of something Higher.

“Musette and Drums” Sheer brilliance. Best with headphones at the moment when darkness softly devours the last of the daylight:

 

Rant: Still Ticked At The Voice

Last week I realized The Voice is a fraud. The show that distanced itself from the superficiality of American Idol proved to be even shallower. And I’m still upset!

At least AI doesn’t try to pass itself off as any more than what it is; a popularity contest for under-30 wannabe professional singers. The Voice, with its more or less blind judges promised that it would serve as a platform for all talent regardless of looks and age based on only one requirement: that they could really sing.

So why was “the one to beat” Jesse Campbell taken off the show in an “Instant Elimination” that didn’t even involve the audience? Even the show’s host Carson Daly, was “thrown for a loop.”

“A Song For You”

Was it a commentary on Christina’s lack of skill as a vocal coach? Watching the re-run of the episode I saw the foreshadowing Rolling Stone pointed out. You could see it on her face. She knew she was going to give him the ax. Perhaps she couldn’t take him any further than she did and had to cut him loose.

“What A Wonderful World”

Perhaps it was the result of the industry’s innate ageism. At 43ish Campbell is hardly the typical Top 40 flavor-of-the-month. Or perhaps the winner of the Voice has already been identified by the show’s producers. Whatever the reason behind this decision, one thing’s for certain, Jesse Campbell is on to bigger and much better things. Perhaps he should’ve chosen Cee-lo or Adam?

“Halo”

Either way, Godspeed to him and his beautiful daughter. I’m not sure I’ll be watching this show again without feeling duped and jaded… but I do love, love, LOVE Juliet Simms:

“Roxanne”

 

 

My Muses: Death Cab For Cutie “I Will Possess Your Heart”

Death Cab, like Radiohead, is one of those bands that I play all the time to the point that I wonder if it’s healthy for my son.

To give you an example, one day we were driving along the countryside in Dekalb county (Georgia, Atlanta area). It was a bright and sunny day, and as always iTunes was piping through the stereo. Death Cab’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” was playing. And my 5 year-old was singing it verbatim.

I realized that this must have been the thousandth time he’d heard this tune, and for a moment I wondered if it was normal, after all it’s a pretty intense song.

But then again, what is normal? I recalled the dark and hyper-sexualized songs I’d grown up listening to and never caught the real meaning until I was in college (some even later, like Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax” I had absolutely no idea that was about reaching orgasm until the new millennium, but I’d never seen this banned version of the video either, eewww!). I figured he’d be fine as long as I continued to balance out the Death Cab with Backyardigans, The Wiggles, The Muppets and less dark, more family-friendly bands like Coldplay and U2.

This particular tune has a play count of over 300 in my iTunes. That was after my computer crashed and wiped out my play counts. It’s right up there with the most popular songs from my Blood To Blood playlist, but ironically it’s not on that playlist. Nonetheless, I crafted a good amount of Justin’s interior monologue while listening to it:

I imagined Justin saying these lyrics, or something like them, in his head whenever he spent any time with Angel:

How I wish you could see the potential,
the potential of you and me.
It’s like a book elegantly bound but,
in a language that you can’t read.
Just yet.

You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.

There are days when outside your window
I see my reflection as I slowly pass,
and I long for this mirrored perspective
when we’ll be lovers, lovers at last.

You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
I will possess your heart.
I will possess your heart.

You reject my… advances… and desperate pleas…
I won’t let you… let me down… so easily.
So easily.

You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.
I will possess your heart.
I will possess your heart.

That’s *so* Justin. Wow. Now that I’m thinking of him again, I need to run and write some more of the Justin story I’ve been working on.

Blood To Blood YouTube Playlist

My trusty Blood To Blood YouTube Playlist includes tunes scooped directly from my iPod playlist, and served up via YouTube. These are the videos to some of the artists listed in the official Blood To Blood playlist. One of these days maybe I’ll be able to pipe everything directly from iTunes, but in the meantime, this little playlist feature on YouTube is kinda cool.

Anyway, I played these artists and their songs hundreds of times while writing Blood To Blood. Many of them are connected to specific scenes from the book. Hole’s “Violet” for example is for when Angel feels her new powers for the first time as she runs through the Maine woods with her family.

Featured here are:

Hole A photograph of the band HOLE playing a concer...
Coldplay
Cee-lo Green Cee-Lo
Metric
Muse
Nicki Minaj Nicki Minaj
Robin Thicke Thicke
Gordon Lightfoot (yep, you read that right) Gordon Lightfoot
Ramsey Lewis feat. Earth Wind and Fire Ramsey Lewis
Deathcab For Cutie Death Cab for Cutie
Carlos Santana feat. Everlast

I hope you enjoy these tunes as much as I do. These are just a few of the songs I wrote the book to, and I look forward to sharing more.

Blood To Blood YouTube Playlist

 

 

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