Music To Write To: “Alone”


Well, this has been a shitty week. There’s not much an individual can do to change things. Ultimately, we’ve got control of our own thoughts and not much else. When we do get a chance, we’ve got to step up and do our best. Andrew and I made a wager this week, which we hope will give a little back.

And there’s also the ever-present hope that, through writing, we may affect the world, even if it is just to entertain for a short while.

Please enjoy this week’s Music To Write To, a song I first heard on The Way Way Back and which has become a regular in my repertoire of music to listen to while writing. It reminds me during the lonely process that writing can be, I am never truly alone.

Music To Write To: Sweet Little Thing


Sometimes I wish that I were in my late 20s during the heyday of the alt-country scene. The time when bands like Uncle Tupelo were making their mark on the new form of music. Before they broke up into the much less alt-country Wilco and Son Volt.

There are still alt-country bands around, though. And one of those bands is Lucero. They have the same low and gritty vocals as Uncle Tupelo (although the lead singer claims never to have heard of Tupelo before they started making music). What sets them apart from Uncle Tupelo is their lyrics and instrumentals. Both are showcased in Sweet Little Thing. It’s a story of a young man heartbroken over the love that he just can not have.

It’s a love song. But it’s a love song with the longing and remorse of early blues, with a touch of Van Morrison. It’s a song worth listening to if you are trying to find some inspiration for that love story in your book that just won’t click. Or if you’re just looking for a great song about longing and loss.


Music To Write To: Tom Traubert’s Blues


There is just something about Tom Waits. His voice is incredibly haunting, his lyrics are always so familiar yet just out of reach, and you can feel the emotion emanating from every note and chord in every song.

Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda) gets me into an emotional state that preps me for some deep writing. It’s not the best music to write action scenes to, but when I was writing my recent ebook, Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom, this song put me in the right frame of mind.

Tom Waits is the kind of artist who, even though his songs often times come off surprising, can still inspire with his voice and imagery.

Are You Not Entertained? Entertainment In a 21st Century World


Amazon used to run a commercial for the Kindle. In that commercial they advertised the greatness of the Kindle. How it can hold a million books, how you can read anywhere you want, how it won’t spontaneously catch on fire like a regular book does (I may have made that last one up). Basically, the commercial was pro-Kindle and anti-Book.

Around the same time, Barnes and Noble ran a commercial that ended with a phrase like “just read.” The commercial was far more pro-reading than it’s Amazon equivalent.

Now, I can understand the motivations for why the commercials would be formatted this way. Amazon wants to reduce the amount of people who are buying paper-backed books. They would like more people to buy ebooks. The mark up on ebooks is much higher than paper books and the warehouse space needed for ebooks is, well, zero.

Barnes and Noble wants people to buy both books and ebooks. They already have their brick and mortar bookstores, and they also have the nook. They would like people to buy books and read in whatever way will make them money (which is both).

What this makes me think about is how we take in our entertainment. That is, how we read, watch, listen. Is there any one, pure, way to enjoy entertainment? I know that a great deal of people swear by seeing movies only in the theater, only listening to music on a record player, and only reading a book in paper form.

But is there really a pure way? Or are there just preferred ways?

I think it’s much more what we prefer to do rather than what we think is pure. We may believe that our preferred method is pure, but it probably just seems that way because that’s how we enjoy taking in our entertainment the most.

There are dozens of ways to enjoy our entertainment now. We can watch TV on a television, a computer, our phones. We can watch movies in a movie theater, on a TV, or in the palm of our hands. We can read a paper book, or we can read on a phone, on a kindle, on a nook, or on an iPad. We can listen to music on a record, a CD, a tape, an iPod, a radio, or live and in person. The point is, we have dozens of ways to take in our entertainment these days. But, really, is there one way that is better than all the rest?

In my mind, no, there isn’t. Sure, there are ways that I prefer to take in my entertainment. I prefer a paper book, a TV for movies and television shows, and an iPod for music. But these are just preferences. It’s not that I have found the one pure way to take in my entertainment, the one way that presents them in their best possible light, because I haven’t.

I think the idea that there is one pure way to take in entertainment is ridiculous. We here at the Bearded Bards will be publishing exclusively in ebook form, to start out. Does that mean that we think that ebooks are the best possible way to read books? No. They are one way to read books. You could also listen to an audiobook, or pick up a faded old paper back (maybe a hard cover if you want to be a fancy pants).

It’s confusing, really, that the idea of high and low culture has to extend to how people enjoy their entertainment. I say, if someone wants to read on a kindle, let them. If someone wants to watch a movie on their phone, let them. If someone wants to listen to music on a tape deck, let them.

How we interpret and enjoy any art form is an incredibly personal act. And as such, how we take in that entertainment should be just as personal a choice.