The Way The Song Goes

Image courtesy

The four of us, at the time, existed from week to week on the praise of dozens…literally, dozens of people. It’s not like we were destined to sell out every major arena on the East Coast. It’s not like we packed a bar on any given Saturday night. What we did have was the ways and means and most importantly, the drive. The fact that no one cared didn’t stop us. Nor did the reality that we barely held together as a cohesive unit. We had no hook or signature song we would perform. We had attitude and talent, and more importantly, networking skills.

We were the opener for a big name live act that came out of Boston. We put on a festival/concert that featured every single musician we could find within 20 miles. We cut an album. As success went with the majority of local bands at the time, we were pretty fortunate. For the most part, we had our lead guitarist to thank for that. He was a musician second, but a pitchman first. He could schmooze with the best of them. He’s the kind of guy that would never forget a face or a name and would take great care in making you feel like a star…especially if it benefited him; a born salesman. Our little band had an “in” as far as finding work, but what were we selling? How did we become worthy of getting gigs on a regular basis? Well honestly, we did cover tunes. Now, I hear what you’re saying. “Every bar band does cover tunes!” True, but we did them in such a way that was rather distorted, slightly violated and colored in a slight shade of blue. That was our brand. Our claim to fame was that we played the tunes that were familiar to everyone, yet no band that we knew of was performing. In our repertoire:

  • A slightly “Country-fied” version of The Beatles’ Ticket To Ride (complete with naughty lyrics).
  • A version of The Guess Who’s American Woman (years before Lenny Kravitz ruined it) that was in the style of Tool.
  • A version of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone performed West Coast Grunge style.

There were a few more like this, but none of them stepped up to the level of these three. Why did we do this? We promised each other at the beginning that if we were to do cover tunes, we were going to do them the right way and put our own spin on it. Which is how it should be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned pro or a weekend hack, it is your job as an artist to pick it up and bring it further than where you found it. That’s rock and roll. Figuratively speaking, that’s the way the song is supposed to go.

A few days ago, fellow blogger +Jenn Flynn-Shon addressed the situation that I’m sure more than one writer/blogger chews on regularly:

It’s all been done.

Why should I bother writing, blogging, creating, doing anything that involves putting the effort forth to express myself, if it’s all been done? Someone else has said it, sang it, wrote it, several times. Hundreds of times. Thousands. Millions. From time immemorial. I could jot down something witty that’s been bouncing in my head for weeks, but why bother? South Park did it. Simpsons did it first…ad nausem. Why bother?

Four knuckleheads with a boatload of talent got together one spring day in Portland, Maine and decided to make a band. Did we have our own material? No. Not yet, anyway. We all had good intentions, and grander visions when we first started, but in order to get there, we had to go through what every other band goes through: covering someone else’s material. If we were to do so, we were damned if we were going to do the same old, worn out material that everybody’s been doing for years. We were going to do things our way, and for a brief moment in history, people liked it. Yes, you may have heard it many times before, but never like how we played it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a tired old cover of a song, or blogging about something that been diagnosed to death. “What does matter,” as Jenn Flynn-Shon points out, “is your voice.” And that, as they say, is all that matters.


Not What I Was Looking For…


…But I’ll take it.

I was shooting for Robbins, or Pynchon, or Thompson, or Brautigan or any one of dozens of maniacal authors who have ever lived. I strive to join the Brotherhood of Warrior Poets whenever I sit down at my keyboard.

Instead, I got Agatha Christie.

I write like
Agatha Christie
I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Granted, I’d like to think that there’s a madness to my method, and Agatha knows a thing or two about madness… albeit, better dressed.

Okay, okay…I put my latest work through the analyzer, now let’s see what they say to something I have bubbling on my back burner…

I write like
Rudyard Kipling
I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Ugh…really? Is it because I use talking animals? Is that what you’re building that opinion on? Not Richard Adams? Art Spiegelman? Okay, maybe not Spiegelman. But, Kipling?

Look, I know I’m sounding insubordinate and ungrateful, but I want to write like somebody cool! I do not want to write like someone I used to fall asleep to in high school!

Still though, perhaps all those times that I struggled through “Ivanhoe” and still couldn’t remember what it was about, maybe all those times where I had to choke on a classic against my will, maybe it did have an effect on me. Maybe the seeds were planted a long time ago and are just now bearing fruit?

Maybe I’m destined to do this. Maybe I’m meant to live next door to the masters with their immaculately trimmed lawns, in-ground pools, and security gates. Maybe my romantic notion of carousing amongst the rabble on the other side of the tracks is just a lie… 

…Meh, whatever. I’m pulling a Sir Distractsalot at the moment and I should be getting other stuff done. But in the meantime, I’ll try to be like you…

Thank you +Michelle Stanley for bringing this to my attention…

What I’ve Been Working On.

Blog’s a little lonely these days.

I’m sorry, hon. I’ve been trying to craft a living out of nothing. I know you’ve been lonely. My typing fingers aren’t as accurate as they used to be either.

But here’s the thing…

I’m still unemployed. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been chucked out like the trash for one reason or another. But this is the first time where I’ve decided to not rely on someone else to hire me. This is the first time where I decided to go my own direction, the first time where I make my own future, to actually contribute to society. I love to write. I also like creating things. I want to do what I love, but in order to do that, I want to do the thing that I like.

But that’s old news, blah blah blah…heard it all before. This is what I’ve been working on.

Latest design. I’m still falling in love with this style, and every project I’ve been working on having been gravitating around it. However, these days, I’ve kind of been throwing in the towel because finding the resources I need have become scarce (damn you, Shutterstock). So instead of spending hours looking for stuff I already have, or finding a way around getting the good stuff for free without getting busted for it. I decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Details will come soon in my Portfolio page…eventually.

Anyway, I spent all weekend sweating over the smaller details while diving headfirst into some sort of philosophical conundrum. Today was dedicated to actually putting it together. I’m okay with it. Trying to figure out if I want this as t-shirt material or not. Anyway, it’s late and I’m tired of looking at this for the day.

Taking any and all advice and criticism. Thank you very much.

I Will Catch The Sun In Daddy’s Hat (first verse)

I will catch the sun in Daddy’s hat,
And fill it up with flowers.
I’ll hop in his shoes
Like kangaroos.
Then I’ll dance for hours and hours.
We’ll ride bikes and swim,
Maybe take off to the fair.
We’ll count the stars,
Fireflies in jars.
And I’ll spin flowers in my hair.
We’ll hunt for buried treasure
Without knowing where it’s at.
Then, I’ll catch the sun in Daddy’s hat.
I have more. In the back of my head. I wanted to get a little bit out there to test the waters; to see how it would look, to hear how it would sound, to see if it would make sense, to see if I actually want to move forward with this.
Yet another magic nugget from the lips of my child. Up until recently, I would wear a tuque or a tam to keep my hair from scaring people under control. During the 10 month summer season down here in Florida, I have a tendency to take my hat off and let my head breath because a black, knit wool is not the most comfortable thing to wear when the thermometer never dips below 80°F. On one of these days, the whole family was in the car to go to some shopping. Took off my hat and put it in the back seat. My daughter picked it up and held it up to the sun to give her shade and said, “I will catch the sun in daddy’s hat…” I had to hurry up and get to the store so I could save that line on my phone.

Like I said, there’s more where this came from, but I’d like to turn this into a children’s book. Is there anyone out there that can point me in the right direction? It would be appreciated.

©2014 Anthony Payson/The Writers’ Bloc

My review for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, # 1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My thumbnail review for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? It’s the book for people who understand or have heard of Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and The Avengers, but don’t necessarily care about any of them. Just when you thought all realms of all possibilities have been exhausted in terms of imagination and story telling, along comes author Ransom Riggs and offers his vision of a world that exists just beyond our own. A living, breathing world that has been under our noses for an eternity. Riggs has a talent for building tension and constructing an almost legitimate world that could plausibly exist without too much backstory. My only issue with this book was that it was too short. It was a quick read that was helped along by a plot that moved as fast as freight train rolling down hill.

The other issue I have is one of the reviewers featured as an endorsement for this book is quoted as saying something to the effect of, “not your typical children’s book…” The protagonist is in his late teens who may have been diagnosed with a depression disorder, his parents are apathetic caricatures, the story incorporates shades of the horrors of World War II, and there’s a little banter early on in the story between the main character and a random friend of his that involves a rather unsavory, but no less un-funny, remark about the other one’s mother. Now, overlooking the fact that this reviewer can’t discern the difference between “Children’s Books” and “Young Adult” literature, my question for this so-called reviewer is, what kind of children’s books have YOU been reading?

Anyway, it’s fast paced, deeply moving in parts, and a wonderful genesis story for a series that will be the delight of many. Well done.

My oldest daughter yanked this out of my hands as soon as I was done with it…she hates reading.

View all my reviews


Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

…Actually, I never left.

Boy, this constructing new pages and loading them with new content is hard. I’m front-loading again; I’m putting several things in front of other things and hopefully everything will work out nicely. So far, my store is up and running and I’m working on a way to link to it. I’ve added a section to my blog where I showcase the bloggers I follow (seriously guys, if you haven’t already, check them out). I also have a number of projects lined up, hopefully I’ll have the wherewithal to document everything.

Oh, also I thought I’d pop in to say thank you….

                                                                          …thank you…

                                                                                               ….thank you….

I have reached 100 followers. Hooray for tiny accomplishments. Years ago, I was yapping into a void and no idea what I was doing. Today, I have increased my readership and know what I’m doing just slightly more than before. I love what I’m doing and thank you all for encouraging my behavoir.

Well….back to it then….