Showing posts with label Music in Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music in Fiction. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Guts by Roddy Doyle (Jonathan Cape 2013)

—It wasn't too bad so?

—No, said Jimmy.—No.


—Not so far anyway.

—Fingers crossed so.

—Yeah, said Jimmy.—Yeah. When were yeh born?

—Jesus, said his da.—1941. I think. Yeah, 1941. Why?

—Was there much talk about the Eucharistic Congress when you were a kid?

—God, yeah - Jesus. Big time.

—Wha' was it?

—Big mass, all sorts of processions.

—No pope.

—No, said Jimmy Sr.—No. A raft o' fuckin' cardinals. My parents talked about it all the time. I think it was kind o' like 1990, for their generation.

—Wha' d'yeh mean?

—Well, 1990 was unbelievable - remember?

—I do, yeah.

—It was just the football to start with. But then, when it took off. The penalty shoot-out an' tha'. The country was never the same again. It was the beginnin' of the boom.

—D'yeh think?

—Yeah - I do. I mean, I had tha' chipper van at the time. With Bimbo, d'you remember?


—An' it was a bit of a disaster, tha'. But I was never unemployed again - after Italia '90. I wouldn't let myself be. I was always doin' somethin', even before the buildin' took off. Because - an' this is true. We felt great about ourselves. For years after. An' tha' only changed a few years back. Now we're useless cunts again.

—Thanks for the analysis.

—Fuck off. You asked.

—An' 1932 was like tha', was it?

—Yeah, said Jimmy's da.—A bit. The country was only ten years old, remember. An' dirt poor. Then, like, the man in the flat next door to my mother's gets a radio - a big fuckin' deal. An' everyone bails in to hear it. She always spoke about hearin' your man, John McCormack, singin' live on the wireless. At the mass. Like he was Sinatra or - I don't know - some huge star today. The BublĂ© fucker or someone. My father said it was like the whole world was listenin' to somethin' tha' was happenin' here in Dublin. An' it probably was as well. Why did you ask

Jimmy told him.

—An' you came up with that idea, did yeh?

—I did, said Jimmy.—Yeah.

—It's a winner.

—D'yeh think?

—Fuckin' sure. If you do it properly.

—I will.

—Oh, I know, said his da.—D'you remember my cousin Norman?

—No, said Jimmy.—I don't think so.

—He'd be your cousin as well, I suppose. Second cousin, or first cousin twice removed or tha' shite. Anyway, he has a huge collection of old 78s an' stuff.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Kill Your Friends by John Niven (Harper Perennial 2008)

What do I think? Honestly? I think I would like to see you and the rest of your band die screaming in agony from something like testicular cancer. I think that last week I spent a hundred and eighty pounds on a necktie and lost it a few hours later, drunk in Soho. I think about telling these hopeless, penniless cunts this. But instead, pointlessly, I say, 'Great guitar sound.'

'Yeah,' the manager says, and he starts crapping on about how Doug - or whoever - has been playing guitar since he was a fucking foetus or something. Doug looks up from the floor and smiles bashfully. It's about all I can do not to punch his stupid, talentless face in. To stand up, run the length of the room, and boot him full-force in his pasty, pimply, stinking indie chops. But - ever reasonable - I just nod and listen and say things like 'yeah?' and 'yeah' and 'great' and 'really?' for a long time.

I hate indie music. Until a couple of years ago you didn't really have to think about it. It was just a couple of hundred losers fucking around in Camden. Then a pair of Mancunian losers rock up clutching a Beatles songbook and suddenly you've got to listen to all this shite and take all these meetings in case you miss the next one. It's a fucking nightmare.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Under Contract by Liza Cody (Charles Scribner's Sons 1986)

"Think of the overtime. I dunno," Anna sighed, "why does everyone slag everyone off so much? I've never come across such a slagging match."

"You've never been security on one of these tours before, have you?" Dave looked down his nose at her. "You'll learn. It's because there's a lot of vultures on only the one carcass - not enough to go round and everyone's hungry."

There was some truth in that, she mused on her reluctant way back to the dressing rooms. Only who were the vultures and what was the carcass? Fame and fortune was the simple answer. But what about Shona who had achieved it? She had stood in front of thousands of screaming, applauding fans and yet she still needed Anna's few distracted words. And now the fans themselves needed to be noticed. Look at me, look at me, no - look at me, seemed to be the cry in every throat. I could look like that if I had the right make-up . . . I could do that, if only someone'd notice me. Fame and fortune were only by-products in the universal need to be seen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Penguin Books 2009)

When Ros stopped by to find out whether they’d made any progress with the photographs, Annie still had the website up on her computer.

“Tucker Crowe,” said Ros. “Wow. My college boyfriend used to like him,” she said. “I didn’t know he was still going.”

“He’s not, really. You had a college boyfriend?”

“Yes. He was gay, too, it turned out. Can’t imagine why we broke up. But I don’t understand: Tucker Crowe has his own website?”

“Everyone has their own website.”

“Is that true?”

“I think so. Nobody gets forgotten anymore. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple of dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn’t recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It’s what the Internet’s for. That and pornography. Do you want to know which songs he played in Portland, Oregon, in 1985?”

“Not really.”

“Then this website isn’t for you.”

“How come you know so much about it? Are you one of the nine Brits?”

“No. There are no women who bother. My, you know, Duncan is.”

What was she supposed to call him? Not being married to him was becoming every bit as irritating as she imagined marriage to him might be. She wasn’t going to call him her boyfriend. He was forty-something, for God’s sake. Partner? Life partner? Friend? None of these words and phrases seemed adequately to define their relationship, an inadequacy particularly poignant when it came to the word “friend.” And she hated it when people just launched in and started talking about Peter or Jane when you had no idea who Peter and Jane were. Perhaps she just wouldn’t ever mention him at all.

“And he’s just written a million words of gibberish and posted them up for the world to see. If the world were interested, that is.”

She invited Ros to inspect Duncan’s piece, and Ros read the first few lines.

“Aaah. Sweet.”

Annie made a face.

“Don’t knock people with passions,” said Ros. “Especially passions for the arts. They’re always the most interesting people.”

Everyone had succumbed to that particular myth, it seemed.

“Right. Next time you’re in the West End, go and hang out by the stage door of a theater showing a musical and make friends with one of those sad bastards waiting for an autograph. See how interesting you find them.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Too Much, Too Late by Marc Spitz (Three Rivers Press 2006)

Do you know the song "Talk of the Town" by the Pretenders? I always loved that song. I consider it probably one of the ten best singles ever released. Over the years, when intoxicated a certain way, I'd insist it's the best ever, but then I've also insisted that about "Bad Case of Loving You" by Robert Palmer, which just isn't true. Still, "Talk of the Town" is perfect every time I hear it. Maybe it's because I know the band's leader, Chrissie Hynde, is an Ohioan. Maybe because it's beautiful. I was hearing "Talk of the Town" in my head as we began our flight to John F. Kennedy International. "Oh, but it's hard to live by the rules. I never could and still never do," Chrissie sang.

I forced myself onto a bit of a high, and my walk had become a strut. I'm signed to Diphthong Records, I repeated to myself. My little band is worth one million dollars to someone. We've been played in Topeka and Athens and Istanbul. We were banned in Iran. Big in Japan. Very famous in places I would probably never visit. I am now middle-aged. But I'm a professional musician, and I will never have to work at anything else again. All you people who warned me to grow up? Fuck you. All you people who tried to grab me and take me down with them? You couldn't catch me, suckers. I am going to stay 18 for all time like Mr. Mick Jagger, and if you have a problem with that, you can kiss my arrested ass.

Harry . . . he had no strut and a much different interpretation of "Talk of the Town." He saw Chrissie Hynde's confession as a lament, whereas I was sure it was a boast.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Firing Offense by George P. Pelecanos (Serpent's Tail 1992)

I first met Karen in a bar in Southeast, a new wave club near the Eastern Market run by an Arab named Haddad whom everyone called HaDaddy-O.

This was late in '79 or early in 1980, the watershed years that saw the debut release of the Pretenders, Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks, and Elvis Costello's Get Happy, three of the finest albums ever produced. That I get nostalgic now when I hear "You Can't Be Too Strong" or "New Amsterdam" or when I smell cigarette smoke in a bar or feel sweat drip down my back in a hot club, may seem incredible today - especially to those who get misty-eyed over Sinatra, or even at the first few chords of "Satisfaction" - but I'm talking about my generation.