Monday, June 11, 2007

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Monogram Momma tagged me; I was enjoined to write a few random and possibly embarrassing facts about myself. I don’t plan to respond to tags all that often, but this one challenged me, as I couldn’t remember any random or embarrassing fact about me which hadn’t already merited its own blog.

[Actually, I know a few, but since my mother and my daughter both exist upon this earth, they will remain deeply closeted.]

I puzzled for weeks. Something stupid and random Quinn trivia which was no more scandalous than PG-13? I had almost given up when, over the weekend, I got into the car and turned on the ignition. The iPod snapped into wakefulness and I thought, Oh, there it is.

Random fact about Quinn: I write while I drive. This isn’t as dangerous as it sounds, but it might possibly break a minor law regarding noise pollution.

I have written for pleasure if not profit my entire life. After multiple decades of trial and error, I have found that it goes like this:

1. I think of an idea. Sometimes, nothing more than a sentence.
2. I wait patiently. The sentence sits in my head, exerting a weak gravitational pull. Somewhere between three hours and seven weeks later, I have a paragraph. The paragraph, being comprised of sentences, exerts a slightly stronger gravitational pull.
3. Somewhere between three hours and seven weeks later, I have the thing written in my head. This is the first draft. I then write it down and start pinching and kicking it vigorously until the sight of it makes me both pleased and utterly bored. This is the final draft.

The first draft isn’t conceived on the page, it’s conceived in my head and, like all human conceptions, it requires mood music and the back-seat of a car. Well, the front seat, but definitely music. Since I got my driver’s license, I have honed my writing while driving and listening to music. My writing muse is picky; the music I listen to cannot be music which is new to me, because then my brain gets distracted trying to figure out what the next rhyming word is going to be. Actually, what my muse really wants is the same song on repeat for extended periods of time. This creates within me some sort of alpha wave state in which I can decide definitively whether the word “Gecko” is funnier than “Squirrel”.

There are all sorts of CDs of music dedicated towards creating the alpha state in the creative mind. Classical, new-age, World Music, the alpha-options are myriad. My brain sneers at those. As Woody Allen once said, the heart wants what it wants.

For the two months, my creative heart has wanted “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds.

Don’t know the song? You lucky bastard. It’s a lite country-rock ditty from the early 70’s with a horn section and some of the most deathless lyrics heard since the cake was left out in the rain in MacArthur Park. Let me submit just a tempting morsel of awful:

You say you're gonna leave
Gonna take that big white bird
Gonna fly right out of here
Without a single word
Don't you know you'll break my heart
When I watch you close that door?
'Cause I know I won't see you anymore

I want to take that big white bird myself and fly away from this song, but I can’t if I ever want to write something again. If I put the kibosh on whatever song my creative brain finds pleasing, my creative brain punishes me with silence. I am merely a tool through which it can type and, it appears, hit the “Repeat” button on the iPod. And how grateful am I for iTunes? Without the ability to buy a single song for less than a dollar, I would have had to buy “The Best of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds” tape which, coincidentally, would also have cost me less than a dollar. But with the whole tape I might have accidentally heard the song “Daisy Mae” which I have not heard but saw on the iTunes page. The title sounds just ghastly enough to be the kind of thing my brain would really like and demand and no one wants that.

What’s strange about all this is what I keep finding in the back of the linen closet which is my memory. I had no idea I held a hidden fondness for “Don’t Pull Your Love”. Perhaps I heard it once or twice while waiting to have my teeth cleaned, but I’ve also heard “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Muskrat Love” in the same dentist’s office, and my creative process requires neither. This affection puzzles me almost as much as it unsettles me. The previous writing-song hits at least made some sense.

The song “It’s Raining Men” said to the world, “Hi, I grew up in a primarily homosexual neighborhood and have fond memories of hearing this song echo around the canyons in the early 80’s. On a related topic, I can recite whole minutes of the movie ‘Auntie Mame’, verbatim.”

“I Want You Back” meant “I am of the demographic who remembers when Michael Jackson had no relationship with Children’s Protective Services”.

“Can the Circle be Unbroken” and “Cry” proclaimed “I’m morbid. I also appreciate strong female singing voices. Being morbid.”

“Somebody to Love”, “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Got to Be Real” just confirmed I grew up in a gay neighborhood.

All of these songs could be, and were, played for weeks on end while I wrote in my head, and I didn’t felt no shame at all to let the world know that, yes, I had such songs in my possession. I let my freak flag fly high, even reciting the entire spoken-word opening to “It’s Raining Men” at stop lights, waving in a friendly manner to other drivers who were transfixed by my imitation of Martha Wash, an obese gospel-trained black singer.

But this “Don’t Pull Your Love” business is a distressing trend. A K-Tel, multi-pack, “Easy Listenin’ of the 70’s” trend. I’m grateful for the support this song has given me while writing about fifteen-thousand words, but I still don’t want to be seen in public with it, and I think I’m not the only one mortified by the never-ending aural houseguest. I was listening to the song for easily the fifteenth time this morning when the song abruptly stopped. I tapped the iPod, but it didn’t go back on. Logical people might suggest the machine was out of power; I choose to believe it had fainted in disgust.

The only thing I can do it wait it out. Some day, may it be soon, my brain will turn up its nose at the opening notes of “Don’t Pull Your Love” and insist on…something new. Something, we can only dream, which won’t reflect so badly on me. I’d just like to be able to open my car windows again.


Blogger houseband00 said...

I don't usually formulate posts in my mind while driving, Quinn, but I'm with you when it comes to getting my inspiration from the music I listen to.


11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, iTunes will wonder what prompted all the sales of an obscure song.


6:35 AM  
Blogger Melissa C Morris said...

Duane Reade drugstore on Lexington Ave circa 8.35PM last night: 'Don’t Pull Your Love' on the sound system.

8:10 AM  
Blogger MTherese said...

Great, now I have a whole bunch of sappy tunes stuck in my head!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

i've been jonesing for some H,JF & R - and i hate to admit i've been purchasing the "Super Hits of the 70's - Have a Nice Day!" cds...and how bad is it when i'm cranking "Midnight at the Oasis," and BELTING that out in the middle of the 405 @ rush hour?!

4:18 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

.....I've always liked that song - and never thought of it as sappy....but I guess it is. I still like it - brings back memories of simpler times for me...

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Switching to O-o-h Child by the Five Stairsteps, this one has worked well for my creative mind, and has a strong message that things are always going to work out. You're in luck, I believe iTunes has this one. Let me know how it works out.


9:04 PM  
Blogger Monogram Momma said...

See, that wasn't so hard! ;-)

P.S. I also tend to write while I drive so you are not alone.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

After finding myself unexpectedly delighted every time I heard one of their songs played on the oldies station, I finally broke down and bought a Partridge Family CD. I love to play it and sing along in traffic, but I am embarrassed about it. I keep it in my Robin Thicke CD case . . . .

11:38 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I need silence to write.

But, PREwriting I need "Play That Funky Music White Boy".

I have no idea why.

1:35 PM  
Blogger MamaKaren said...

Oh, I feel so much better that someone else remembers that song. I don't know why I love it, but I do. I just can't help it.

Don't pull your love out on my baby
If you do, then I think that maybe
I'll lay me down
and cry for a hundred years

It's a sickness.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Oh, I'm so glad I'm not the only person who geeks out over soft 70s music! And, I do mean, GEEK OUT. Eyes closed, neck all stretched forward, belt it out nerdiness.

And I'm right there with you on getting obsessed with ONE SONG and playing it over and over and over until you're in a meditative state of love and epiphany. Somebody to Love has been one of mine as well...I think it might be one of the greatest rock and roll songs of ALL TIME. Other obsessions have included the Cat Stevens version of First Cut is the Deepest, So In Love by Curtis Mayfield, Baby It's You by Smith, Another You by The New Seekers, and... the absolute cream of the crop... United We Stand by Brotherhood of Man.

I'm still in the throes of that one. I can loop it for hours, and just do that thing where I feel it every. single. time.

For united we stand
Divided we fall
And if our BACKS shouled ever
We'll be toGETher
TOGETher you and I...

This song just brings out my complete earnestness. See there how I put the parts that get my singing emphasis there in all caps? Earnest. Oh yeah. The people on the train look at me like I'm NUTS, but I don't care. Brotherhood of Man. Totally.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

I'll fix you.

I'll fix you ALL.

Up, up with people! You meet people wherever you go!
Up, up with people! They're the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people
All people everywhere
There'd be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who'd care!

12:55 PM  

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