I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes. Usually that’s because I go into a typing frenzy and the Surface Pro keyboard is unforgiving to the furious and the haphazard. Today this is written straight into the WordPress app on a Samsung Galaxy 5, so however like a Praetorian shield the phone is, the keyboard just isn’t satisfactory.
So anyway, I’ve been thinking about music and reading. Often two very different things: I know a lot of people who cannot read and listen to music at the same time. I have a similar issue, in that if anything is too lyric heavy I focus more on the words than the literature and it all gets lost. But often a book can have a soundtrack for me, because if I’m into a piece of music and a book at the same time, then I’ll merge them together. This happened recently when I was reading Ready Player One and listening to the Utopia soundtrack and for the rest of the book the story took on the aesthetics suggested by the music. In fact I was humming one of the songs in the shower and was busting my head over where it was from then I thought “Oh right, that’s the Ready Player One theme” only it isn’t. It’s a book. Books don’t have music.
I have bought books that came side by side with music, either inside the book or alongside the book. I mean Robert Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country is a musician fact file with a CD of music. I’m sure the main focus for the purchase for the book is the art, but for me the CD gave me the most joy with its collection of rare and unusual songs, equipped with the misty textures and sounds of aged vinyl. My Name is Buddy by Ry Cooder had an accompanying book complete with illustrations to support the album, and every Douglas Coupland book is woven with musical references. The dude wrote Girlfriend in a Coma.
As an aside I remember when I was given my first copy of Generation X, one of the founding bricks of my personal development from wet child beast into socially misunderstood man lump. I was given it by an English teacher when I was about 16 and told I needed to read it. I remember he stressed Needed. I read it and it didn’t effect me (I even tried to give the book back and he wouldn’t have it. Told me to keep it until I found someone else who needed it) iy wasn’t until I few years later when I read it again I totally got what everyone was saying and the imagery the feelings and characters all became mine.
Warren Ellis had a play list at the back of Crooked Little Vein. He also put a few in the back matter pages of Doktor Sleepless. Whilst I diligently constructed these play lists through Limewire and later, Spotify (the friendly legal face to ripping off musicians) it wasn’t the songs in list format that had the biggest effect on me, it was those mentioned in the pages of the comic that changed my life. Based on a speech the titular Doktor gives about being ‘for real’ in an issue of Doktor Sleepless I listened to a lot of early blues and checked out Godspeed You! Black Emperor and bought a few albums of theirs, before getting really into Post-rock. Post rock changed my aesthetic: as a person and in my interests. I started looking into post rock culture, the art and artistry that surrounded it and the experimentation and the thought processes amalgamated with my own. This is entirely due to Doktor Sleepless and it’s philosophy.
Another big influence was Casanova written by Matt Fraction which incorporated a play list into the story, the last few issues to its second story arc had song titles as headings. I made a play list of it, and because of it introducing me to new ideas I got into McLusky and Mountain Goats. That little touch wasn’t forcing the songs down your throat, in many ways it didn’t even hint that they were songs, just presented them without comment, and looking into it further you got this new element added to the whole affair. An extra layer that you have to peel away. A further investigation that needs you to solve it. You ever noticed something in a book or comic that doesn’t feel of this world and you have to look into it further, it’s like finding a sliding panel on the drawing room of a castle and you just have to go inside. Matt Fraction made a Thomas Pynchon joke in Sex Criminals. I’m imagining people buying Gravity’s Rainbow after reading Sex Criminals.
That’s how it felt to read Invisibles really. Every comic should have a further reading section.
Back to music. With 50Signal, I really want to make an album of music to accompany it. A couple of tracks to play in the background whilst you read it. As it’s going to be a physical object it’d be great to do something you can only so in a physical object and have it come with a free CD tooked into the back cover. I know my friend Danny, sole member of the Dark Ambient group Pheme was working on a song for it, maybe for a trailer, but it’d be great if he could do a whole album. That was the original plan, anyway, so I’m going to ask him to do that.
This seems to be a bit proposing at the super Bowl, cos he’s sort of obligated to say yes to avoid embarrassment. I always think people who publicly propose are a bit desperate. They’re saying LOOK AT ME I’M PROPOSING and the respondent from the proposal is being press-ganged into not saying no. Imagine booing someone for saying yes to a proposal.
Yeah, you should take relationship advice from the terminally single man.
Anyway, current focus for my attention is the new episode of Casanova, which hit news stands today in all comic book shops, and you should read it, it’s accessible to everyone, even if you haven’t read the transdimensional parable in full just yet.