Weekly Word: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go though the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain. ~ Mildred White Struven

The process of transformation

The process of transformation

Blood To Blood’s heroine, Angel Brown, goes through epic struggle in order to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

As I wrote about her struggles I thought of my own life challenges and the conflict my friends were experiencing. There is no way you can go through life without encountering what Iyanla Vanzant refers to as “The Valley.” During those dark times, you discover what your soul is truly made of.

The dichotomy is amazing: on one hand you don’t want to experience the pain (who does?), and on the other hand the pain, heartache and hard knocks are exactly what makes you stronger, more brilliant and takes you to a level you otherwise wouldn’t be.

Kelly Clarkson says it nicely in her song “Stronger”:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone


Lyrics | Kelly Clarkson lyricsStronger lyrics

The fire of transformation happened to Angel, me and I’m sure you can tell a story or two about your own personal trials.

Just remember once you get on the other side of the tunnel, show your gratitude and say thank you to that hardship for helping you become the butterfly you are today.

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:

 

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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Inspiration: Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke is the inspiration for one of my favorite, and most obsessed over, characters: Sawyer Creed.

Two of Thicke’s songs were the inspiration for an entire novel and its heroine Angel Brown:

  • “Angel” (Why, oh why wasn’t an official video made of this?)
  • “Can You Believe” (I love when he says “If somebody’s watching, you would never know.”)

Check out the beautiful lyrics to “Can You Believe”:

Nothing can make you high
Or put fire in your eyes
Or give you a chance to fly
When you need the wings
When all that youve got is doubt
And nothing can stop you from feeling down
But oh I know, I know exactly how you feel

But can you believe now
When youre on your knees now
Begging and pleading now
Can you believe
When all that youve got is doubt
And no one to pull you out
When your heart is slowin down
Can you believe

See the person I love the most
Is so far away tonight
And no other medicine or promise is
Gonna heal me up right
But I got to believe
That her and me
Will be together
Cause thats all I got
And Oh, I know
When youre down at the bottom
Can you believe

Can you believe when all hope seems gone
When your mother and father cant keep you safe from harm
Can you forgive in your heart
Can you ask for forgiveness
When nobody else believes can you believe
Can you believe in yourself

If nobodys watchin
You will never know
If somebodys watchin
You will never know
If nobodys watchin
You will never know
If somebodys watchin
You will never know
If nobodys watchin
You will never know
If somebodys watchin
You will never know

In fact, his entire album The Evolution of Robin Thicke played in nonstop rotation during the writing and editing of my book.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Robin Thicke for being my muse.