Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Power Ballad by Lynda Waterhous

I have a unique singing voice. It defies description. There is a terrible mismatch between the notes I hear in my head and the sound that comes out of my mouth. An example of this and, one my husband never tires of reminding me about, was the time I started to sing White Riot by the Clash. I was happily singing away when it was pointed out to me that I was singing the lyrics of this contentious punk anthem to the tune of Moon River. I had no idea I was doing this. It just came out of my mouth that way. My brain is more battered juke box than sleek ipod.
And yet I love writing song lyrics. It’s another opportunity for me to create characters and give them a voice. A few friends and I formed an a capella heavy metal band and for this project the persona that I created to help me write the lyrics was a 15 year old lad and his pet tarantula. (I had been politely requested not to sing!).
I have long nursed a secret desire to pen the perfect power ballad. I have been trying to write the lyrics for years and like the search for a good picture book text I have found it incredibly hard to hit upon the right balance between the complexity/ cleverness of the idea, the sincerity of the emotion and the simplicity of language. Still its fun trying.
Songs and chants are a large feature of the sand dune world that I am creating for the Sand Dancers series published by Piccadilly Press. Going to see nu-folk bands inspired me when writing Soul Love. The title was inspired by the David Bowie song. My current story, ‘Magic Moments and the Dull Bits in Between,’ includes one character who writes murder ballads and another who penned the 1980’s hit ‘Canyon Love’ which means hours of caterwauling for me. The Magic Moments bit in the title comes from the wonderful Burt Bacharach song immortalised by Perry Como.
When I’m writing fiction and its going well the ideas and the words tap out a rhythm in my mind. There is an unconscious pulse beating between the words and the image or idea that I am trying to communicate. But is there also a bizarre mangling discord between what I think I’m saying and what appears on the page? Will my rants translate into Moon Rivers? I certainly hope so.

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