Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Writer by Travis

Travis RichardsonThis blog by Travis Richardson

 

At the beginning of June, my wife and I visited Santa Barbara and in our hotel room we came across the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on HBO. Several artists had already been inducted, but Cat Stevens, the E Street Band, Hall and Oats, and Nirvana had not. I’ve sometimes thought of writing in terms of music (and rock n’ roll specifically) by comparing short fiction to songs. Flash fiction and some short stories are like rock songs in that they have intense, powerful emotions that hit in a few minutes and then end. A book can be compared to either a symphony or an entire album, varying in rhythm and tones creating a total experience. So looking at each of the inductees, I thought I might do a comparison of the recording artists to writers, because… why not. Artists in different fields share many similarities.

 

Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam – A gentle, sincere soul who searched for life’s meaning in a wild, wild world that eventually led the Welshman to quitting and, for a while, shunning the music business altogether as he embraced religion.

 

  • Writers like Harper Lee, Ralph Ellison, and JD Salinger have written a major literary works that connected with readers and then never wrote another major work after that. While they may not have had a spiritual conversion, they wrote a something that has stood the test of time and walked away.

 

 

 

Linda Ronstadt

 

Linda Ronstadt – A beloved singer-songwriter who has sold millions of records singing in folk, rock, country, Latin, and even musicals. She’s won Grammys and multiple other awards and has collaborated with numerous artists, helping to launch careers of others like The Eagles.

 

  • Her bestselling status with a strong base, dabbling in new areas and being generous to other artists, makes me think of… (get ready for it): Stephen King. I know that seems like a night and day difference, especially if you put their pictures side-by-side, but looks and content aside, both have had popularity, diversity, and generosity over the course of their careers. If I were to compare the ‘70s Ronstadt to anybody, it would probably be Sue Grafton.

 

 

 

Bruce Springsteen, Drammenshallen, Norway

 

E Street Band – The supporting band of icon and legend Bruce Springsteen. These guys (and one gal) followed Bruce’s lead and enhanced his sound. Perhaps they didn’t write the Boss’s lyrics, but they definitely enhanced it both in the live shows and recording studio.

 

  • This band could be looked at in two different ways. The first would be the co-writers of James Patterson’s or celebrity books. They do the heavy lifting in the background so the writer with the bigger name shines. Another angle would writers who follow in the footsteps of legends. This could include Ross MacDonald following Raymond Chandler in the PI genre or John Grisham following Scott Turow in the legal thriller category.

 

 

 

Hall & Oates

 

Hall and Oates – The radio friendly duo who wrote songs that were accessible to the masses and put people in a good mood.

 

  • Best selling thriller, mystery, and romance writers who give the masses what they want. You can find their names on the bestseller sections of bookstores with plots that often include one or more of the following: the woman gets her man, the murderer gets caught, or an act of world destroying malfeasance is stopped. They produce fun, escapist reads fulfilling their audience desires.

 

Nirvana – Accidental rock stars who were true to their underground sound, rejecting popular music, and inadvertently changed the musical landscape of the 90s.

 

  • These are the writers who wrote their own way not necessarily expecting success. There are several, but the one who stands out the most to me is Franz Kafka. He expressed themes of isolation and confinement/absurdity of a modern society. On his deathbed, he asked that all his work be destroyed. Fortunately his writings weren’t.

 

Kiss – Theatrical, over-the-top spectacle anthem rockers. Some cynics might call them clowns, but wash off their make-up, and they’re just four dudes playing songs about having fun.

 

  • This is tricky as I’m not sure who would want to be associated with Kiss, but I think thriller writer Dan Brown and fantasy writers who have no boundaries, but push stories into wild and new territories giving their readers a fun, exciting read.

 

Peter Gabriel – A restless innovator who doesn’t settle down and is always looking to express himself in new and interesting ways.

 

 

So there it is. Let me know what you think. Who would you have compared to this list? Or do you see music and writing, separate institutions, never to be mixed?

 

 

 

Travis Richardson is fortunate enough to be nominated for both Anthony and Macavity awards for his short story “Incident on the 405” in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines as well as the anthologies SCOUNDRELS: TALES OF GREED, MURDER AND FINANCIAL CRIMES  and ALL DUE RESPECT ISSUE #1. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter, reviews Chekhov short stories daily at www.chekhovshorts.com and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. Find out more at www.tsrichardson.com

 

Girl-Trouble-225x300Keeping The Record-final-24x36smaller Lost in Clover for web

 

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18 Responses to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Writer by Travis

  1. Nancy Jardine says:

    Interesting combinations, Travis. The juxtaposition of Kiss and Dan Brown is quite visually eyepopping and I think I love the Nirvana/ Kafka. 🙂

    Like

  2. james jones says:

    So happy for the great Linda Ronstadt. A powerful often heartbreaking voice – long overdue.

    Like

  3. Doris says:

    Travis,

    I love this post. You have made some interesting connections that bear additional thought. That is good. I will see if I can find others that might also fit the parameters.

    Of course the fact that I write and am also a musician may play into the interest. Smile.

    Doris

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    • Travis says:

      That’s great Doris. My grandfather was a multi-instrumental musician and even though I hear music all the time, I didn’t pick it up. It’s great you live in both worlds.

      Like

  4. sstamm625 says:

    Really interesting, Travis. I haven’t ever thought to compare musicians and writers in this way, but I love your comparisons. Something to think about. Stephanie

    Like

  5. thank you for sharing an interesting perspective on writing and rock and roll.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  6. Wranglers says:

    Very interesting post and not so much thinking out of the box when you consider, as you said, we are all artists–and poets, song writers or novelists all write and create. Even cartoonists. I admire them and their short, pithy stories in three frames or less. You compared them in a very interesting way. Enjoyed. Neva Bodin

    Like

  7. Loved this post Travis. As a songwriter I had never thought of my writing in this way and it gives me a whole different perspective. I think you did a great job of comparison and this is very interesting. Thank you!

    Like

  8. Mike Staton says:

    Interesting take, Travis. Hey, you view is as valid as the next guy’s and definitely more interesting. By the way, I’ve been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a couple of times. Always a fun visit.

    Like

  9. Travis says:

    Thank you Mike!

    Like

  10. Wranglers says:

    Travis, great post (-photos, we will work on this). Very interesting and I can tell you put a lot of thought into it. Love the comparisons. Writing is so similar to music. I always think of my books and other writing in terms of the highs and lows in music. If if were a movie, what kind of music would be playing in the background. Thanks Cher’ley

    Like

  11. Wow, Travis, this was GREAT! You made me see and think about connections I’d not have put together. Interesting and enlightening and entertaining — thank you!

    Like

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