A Melodic Memento Mori

Contrary to what any strangers wandering onto this blog post might assume, Ever On Word is not in fact a music magazine. But I’m gonna temporarily act like it is, in celebration of a grand occasion – namely, my outlaw minstrel is dropping an all-new song on his trilogy’s Facebook page today! If that doesn’t call for a special author-to-musician interview, what in the worlds does?

So everyone please join me in welcoming the face of the music industry, Allyn-a-Dale Gant!

zFaceoftheMusicIndustry05.2

Allyn: Simply had to reference that canonical music magazine in my third novel, did you?

DEShipley: Sorry, yep, didn’t have a choice. But let’s get right into it! This new song of yours. How did it come about?

Allyn: Quite differently than my usual, as it happens. Normally, my songs spring up as a natural part of the narrative in my books, or are at the least inspired by them or my relationships with the characters therein. The inspiration for this song was nothing like that. No story involved but this:

Tirzah was driving you to work. And where you go – à la Annabelle Iole Gray and her characters in the “Inspired” novels – any number of your fictional friends will follow. So I was there, as of course was Will Scarlet, and we all of us chanced to find ourselves behind a truck bearing a load of rolled-up carpets. Somebody mentioned the possibility of the carpets flying off the vehicle and impaling us. Will didn’t suppose anyone will have ever expired that way, to which Tirzah and I made an amusing, alternating reply. Something to the tune of, ‘Well, now, Will, surely someone has, once. After all…

Tirzah: There’s a whole lot of world.

Allyn: And a whole lot of carpet.

Tirzah: And a whole lot of people.

Allyn: Everybody dies.

And then and there, we recognized the potential for a song. Thank you, by the way, Danielle, for recording the words directly after, so we’d not have the opportunity to forget them.

DEShipley: Hey, I’m the scribe. It’s what I do. How long did it take you to build a full song around that improvised, spoken-word snippet?

Allyn: I don’t believe I put my mind to it until the following day, or the one after. But once I began actively searching out lyrics and melody, it only took you a few hours to catch up with me. Then a short while with you on your lute to work out the chords. Then most of the next morning to see it all recorded, and voila: ‘Everybody Dies’.

DEShipley: The making of this video was more involved than our typical recording process.

Allyn: Necessarily so. The full song is five verses; just under five minutes long. Your phone showed no interest in allowing a video of that length, so we broke it up into parts – one video per verse, plus the introduction. And you pieced them all together on your laptop. Not a bad bit of editing, considering your lack of skill and resources.

DEShipley: The same lack of skill and resources that stands between us and ever creating a full album of Allyn-a-Dale songs, just yet. I remain hopeful for some future day, though! This plane of reality would be the richer for it.

Allyn: It is already the richer for all you’ve done to share the songs we’ve found together. Every artwork of mine known to this world has you to thank, for only through your voice can I be heard so far from home.

DEShipley: Dang it, Allyn, you’re gonna make me squirm for joy. Speaking of joy, I can’t help but notice how uncharacteristically happy you look, during this song.

Allyn: I’m afraid that’s so. How can I but do? ‘Tis a jaunty song of death. Despite all it’s cost me, I’m quite fond of death.

DEShipley: ‘Everybody Dies’ has got a definite folksy feel to it. Very Johnny Cash, or some such. A stylistic departure from much of the music we’ve heard from you, to date – with the entertaining exception of ‘A Merry Traveling Song’ from your first book.

Allyn: True, my general aesthetic tends toward romantic melancholy. But every now and then, my father’s influence shows through, and out comes the sprightly, satirical wit.

DEShipley: The latter makes for a lot of rapid-fire lyrics to get through. You had my tongue in a twist during more than one take!

Allyn: And yet, you managed. Father selected you as his author for a reason. And that reason certainly wasn’t anything to do with the temperamental compatibility between you.

DEShipley: Lord, no. Well, that’s about all the time and space we’ve got today, if we wanna leave room to share the song’s lyrics. Thanks so much for dropping by, Allyn! And congratulations on yet another musical triumph.

Everybody Dies, still frame 02

“Everybody Dies” (Click here for the video!)

‘Twas a truck on the highway, so I’m told,

Carrying carpets in great, long rolls,

And the car behind thinks it’s going too slow,

So the driver speeds up, as he plans to go around.

 

Wasn’t quite tailgating, but near enough to,

So when the truck braked hard and the carpets flew,

The car’s windshield and driver took one through

Like a javelin’s thrust. Now the driver’s in the ground.

 

Sure, it might seem an unlikely end,

A short way out with surprising long odds,

But, blame it on we mortals or blame it on the gods,

I can say this much, my friend:

 

That there’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta carpets. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a fellow I knew, and no buffon.

Had a long life left; didn’t think he’d go soon.

But then, like a gag from a kid’s cartoon…

Well, you’d hardly believe it if I said.

 

There he was, just walking down the block,

When a snap from above made him stand still, stock.

Up he looked, and plummeting down like a rock,

A piano that landed on his head.

 

Now, it might seem an alarming end,

And so often played for laughs, perhaps too silly to be true,

Yet a man could pass for sillier, and many of them do.

I will say this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta baby grands. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a day not unlike yesterden.

Just an ordinary woman in a plain kitchen,

Prepping food for next day’s lunchbreak, when…

Well, you’d never guess the tragic farce to come.

 

Warming up a can of soup, adding spices from the rack.

Dash of salt, dash of peppercorn – she’s no hack,

But a sip of the soup’s enough to lay her on her back,

For she choked trying to get it in her tum.

 

Yes, it might seem quite the hapless end,

One mere problematic swallow parting body from soul,

But the smallest of mistakes can take the harshest toll.

I have seen this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta peppercorns. Everybody dies.

*

‘Twas a hockey game at the community rink

For a charity for breast cancer – (have your say in pink) –

So it’s really quite ironic, if you stop and think…

But there’s no good deed unpunished, so they say.

 

A thwack of a player’s stick ‘gainst the puck,

And the shot goes wild! There’s no one struck,

But the scoreboard’s hit. All sparks, no luck.

One inferno later, folks are in their graves.

 

True, it might seem like the worst of ends,

Death by icy immolation while they’re playing for the cure,

But however wrong and random, it’s taxes-sure.

I can vow this much, my friend:

 

There’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta hockey pucks. Everybody dies.

*

‘Tis a possum in the yard, or a meteorite.

A trip upon a crack of pavement, or a small bug’s bite.

It was laughing too hard with your friends one night,

Or the loneliness of having none at all.

 

In the air, in the water, on fire, on earth,

From the moment we grace the stage at birth,

It’s anyone’s guess, whatever guessing’s worth,

How the final curtain’s gonna make its fall.

 

‘Cause there’s a lotta ways to come, and a lotta ways to go,

And a lotta dirt, under which someone lies.

There’s a whole lotta world, and a whole lotta people.

A whole lotta drama, then everybody dies.

<<<>>>

Let Allyn know your thoughts on “Everybody Dies” in the comments! And if another of his songs are a favorite of yours – or if this new ditty reminds you of some other artist’s work you enjoy – by all means, make mention of that, too. ^o^

I, HUMPTY, You Humpty, We All— No, Wait…

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

But if they threw their resources together, they might be able to fund the famous egg’s upcoming biography. And yoooooou can help!

I, Humpty cover

My friend and fellow reteller of fairytales, Eric Wilder of The Grimm Report, has assembled a collection of his once-upon-a-tabloids into I, Humpty, a book which I had the privilege of giving an early read. Behold, my review:

These aren’t your grandmother’s fairy tales! For that matter, they’re not your children’s, either. I, Humpty assembles the lurid scandals behind the curtain of fairy dust, from the courtroom dramas of Hansel and Gretel to the financial felonies of Robin Hood and Rumpelstiltskin – from the marital ups and downs between Beauty and The Beast to conspiracy theories of Wonderland and Oz – with gossip surrounding celebrities from Sleeping Beauty to Cinderella and, of course, the shell-breaking life story of the titular Humpty Dumpty. Shocking, silly, and sometimes hitting closer to home than one would expect from stories begun in lands so far, far away, this is journalism that doesn’t flinch from the grimmer side of “once upon a time”. Fans of the likes of TheOnion.com and James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories should find much to enjoy in I, Humpty.

To cover the costs of book production, Eric’s got a Kickstarter going, with thank-you gifts including such tempting items as the originals of I, Humpty’s hand-drawn illustrations (courtesy of artist Anna Milioutina) , signed copies of Our Brother’s Grimmest (a collection featuring articles from an assortment of contributors to The Grimm Report, including two by yours truly!), and even a shot at sainthood. Seriously.

Read all about it HERE, and do consider chipping in. If the project meets its goal, Humpty Dumpty’s not the only one who’ll crack up. ;D

 

“Spoof”

Some words are just fun to say. “Spoof” is one – an entertaining word for an entertaining concept (that is, “a gentle satirical imitation; a light parody”.) As an extra-special, super-sized treat for all my lovely readers, today I’m sharing one such parody written by yours truly. Inspired by the musical children’s story “Peter and the Wolf” (summary provided here, for those unfamiliar with the tale; spoofs are most fun when the audience is in on the joke), and featuring the protagonists from my novel “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, my Merry Men and I proudly present…

Will and Allyn’s Storytime Musical Theatre!

Will: Good evening, audience mine! …or “ours”, I suppose I ought to say. So glad you could join us for opening night, best decision you ever made, you’re going to love it. I am the one, only, and epically awesome Will Scarlet, and mine will be the role of narrator-slash-leading man in tonight’s performance. And here, putting the “music” in “Storytime Musical Theatre” the way only a minstrel can – (and putting the “Allyn” in “Will and Allyn’s” the way only someone calling himself Allyn has any right to do) – is every crimson-clad outlaw’s favorite little partner in crime, Allyn-a-Dale!

Allyn [with a minstrel-bow]: Welcome, one and all.

Will: Our story is inspired by that old Russian classic, brought to you by the inimitable What’s-his-name—

Allyn: Prokofiev. Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev.

Will: Yes, him, what he said. –That fellow’s symphonic fairytale, adapted now into a little yarn I like to call “Scarlet and the Wolfhound from Hell”!

Allyn: I thought we decided it was to be simply “Scarlet and the Wolf”.

Will: Yes, yes, I know, but I like to call it the first one.

Allyn: Stick with what we wrote, please.

Will: Bah, have it your way. (Anybody else suddenly want burgers?) Ahem, anyway…

Once upon a time, in a Renaissance Faire, there lived a vibrant young man by the name of Will Scarlet – and you could usually tell when he was being talked about, because he had an orchestral string section to play his lighthearted theme song at a moment’s notice.

[Allyn plays a variation of the highly-recognizable “Peter” theme on a Faerie-crafted fiddle.]

Will: Now, Will was the adventuresome type, and wished to explore the world outside his Ren Faire home, but some of his companions chose to be sticks-in-the-mud about it – among them, his band’s right-hand man, Little John.

[Allyn sets the fiddle aside to play a tune reminiscent of the “Grandfather” theme on bassoon.]

Will [now wearing a false beard, glowering darkly, and pitching his voice as low as it will go]: “No, Will, for the millionth time: You don’t get to go Outside. You don’t get to so much as glance at the Faire gates with a suspect look in your eye. You don’t get to have any fun at all.”

[Allyn resumes the fiddle refrain, and Will casts off the beard.]

Will: Fortunately, Will knew better than to take Little John’s spoilsport talk too seriously. After all, there was still a good measure of fun to be had inside of the Faire walls – playing in the woods with his cousin Robin, for instance.

[Allyn takes up a flute to play a chirpy “Bird”-esque song.]

Will [now wearing a green hood, smiling brightly, and holding a bow and arrow]: “Chin up, Will!” he’d say. “How about a game of Archery Tag, to keep your wits sharp?”

“Oh, but Robin,” Will would protest, “you always win! Have a handicap for once, why don’t you, make it fair: This time around, you’re not allowed to touch the ground – you can only move about in the trees.”

“Tree travel, a handicap?” Robin would laugh. “Hardly, Scarlet! For what sort of robin would I be if I could not fly?”

And even with Robin in the trees, there would be trouble enough on the ground – for, skulking through the underbrush with feline stealth, making her way toward the cousins at play with predatory intent… was Marion.

[Allyn winds a “Cat”-like melody on clarinet.]

Will [now in a long wig and longer skirt, crouched and forcing his voice into a feminine half-purr]: “Heh-heh-hmm – those boys are in for a surprise. I shall pounce upon my Robin and do him all sorts of mischief rated inappropriate for some younger audiences.”

Allyn [halting his clarinet piece mid-measure to glare at Will]: We didn’t write that.

Will: It was implied. I’m reading between the lines.

Allyn: You’re reading with your head down your leggings. Knock it off.

Will: Fine, fine, sorry. In any event, Marion wanted in on the good, clean, wholesome, general-audiences-admitted fun, so in she jumped, and there was a duck somewhere.

Allyn: Firstly, that was really random. Secondly, we wrote out the duck character. We couldn’t settle on anyone to represent it.

Will: Because you didn’t want to be the duck.

Allyn: Because the duck gets eaten!

Will: Okay, wow, Allyn, spoiler much? –Ooh, sudden brainwave! Allyn, be the duck, okay? Just trust me and be the duck.

[Allyn mutters about Will’s inability to stick to his own bloody script, but picks up an oboe to improvise on a “Duck” theme.]

Will: Allyn-a-Dale was hanging around the lake, as duck-inspired characters will do, playing his lute – or, well, oboe – with nary a care in the world, when suddenly, completely out of nowhere, what should appear but… a Chihuahua!

[Allyn pulls out a Spanish guitar and composes a peppy little “Chihuahua” theme on the spot, wondering just how many times Prokofiev would turn over in his grave over this.]

Will: There were, of course, no pets allowed inside of the Faire, with the exception of the horses for the jousts in Camelot. So Allyn was all set to carry the little doggie to one of the Faire’s administrators and have them deal with it, little knowing that the dog had already been to the castle – had, in fact, nosed his way into the secret, magical, off-limits belongings of the Faire’s resident wizard – and had erroneously ingested some outlandish concoction that was even now working its way through the animal’s blood and hideously mutating its DNA!

[Allyn plays an ominous motif on French horn.]

Will: Before Allyn’s eyes, the harmless Chihuahua morphed into an enormous, two-headed, red-eyed, poison-fanged, slavering canine of DEATH!

[The “Wolf” horn theme intensifies.]

Will: But while other duck characters may have been promptly eaten, Allyn refused to go down like that! Taking up his staff, he flew at the monster, dodging claws and teeth and more teeth to deal it blow after blow! The hellhound howled in fury, the sound naturally carrying to the Merry Men goofing around in Sherwood.

“What in the world—??” said Robin.

“It sounds like a demon by the lake!” noted Marion.

Allyn’s by the lake!” Will cried, and would have dashed in straightaway to join the fight, had not Little John grabbed him by the shoulder to make him stay put.

Will couldn’t believe it. “Oh, come on, Little John, none of this nonsense supposedly for my own good, not now! Allyn needs us!”

“Yes, I know,” said Little John. “But you forgot your sword.”

“Oh. Right. Ha-ha. Thank you.”

Sword now in hand, Will charged the beast who dared mess with the wrong minstrel. Together, he and Allyn kept the monster puh-lenty busy, I can tell you! And Robin fired a volley of brilliant shots with his bow, sticking their foe full of arrows without hitting his friends once! Ideally, the hellhound would have been vanquished by now, but whatever mutation it had undergone had made it unnaturally resilient to arrow, sword, and stave wounds, and it just wouldn’t bloody die!

Fortunately, Marion and Little John had a plan. Slipping into the fray in that fray-slipping way she had, Marion wove around the hellhound’s legs with a sturdy rope, getting the creature good and tangled up. Back at the other end of the rope, Little John pulled with all his might – which, you’ll hardly be shocked to know, was quite a bit – and the monster dog was dragged down to the ground. The hound still had a good bit of struggle in him, though, and threw up such a fuss that it rolled itself right into the lake… taking Will Scarlet with it!!!

[Allyn swiftly alternates between frantic notes on horn and fiddle.]

Will: …Because of all the confounded luck, Will got caught by the throat in the rope! (No fault of his own, mind you – it’s just one of those disastrous things that will sometimes occur in the heat of a battle with mutant Chihuahuas.)

Down into the lake they went, and things were looking very bleak for our outlaw in red, especially as one of the hellhound’s heads was in the act of trying to take off the head of his opponent! But Will Scarlet was nothing if not opportunistic. He let those super-sharp teeth get just close enough to touch the rope around his neck, then he thrust his sword upward into the monster’s chest! The dog’s head drew back with the sort of yelp nightmares are made of, one of its fangs slicing neatly through Will’s bonds in the process. Happily freed, Will swam up to the lake’s surface and onto dryish land, where he was joyfully received by his fellows.

[Allyn plays a few bars of much-alive-and-glad-to-be-so music on the fiddle, then switches over to a set of kettledrums to signify the entrance of the “Hunters”.]

Will: At this time, the valiant knights of Camelot ride in to save the day. They’re practically too late, of course, since the day’s already been all but saved by Will Scarlet.

Allyn: He didn’t save the day. He saved himself.

Will: What are you talking about? He tied up the demon wolfhound, didn’t he?

Allyn: No. Marion and Little John did that.

Will: Oh. Right. Well, he… um, they wouldn’t have been able to do that if Will hadn’t kept the dog distracted.

Allyn: Robin and Allyn could have done that on their own. In fact, Allyn was doing it on his own before Will showed up.

Will [grumbling]: This is what comes of trying to make everyone look good. Proko-whatsit had the right idea. Next time, the wolf eats the duck.

In any event, although Will would have been perfectly capable of dealing with the aftermath all on his own, thank you very much, the knights were allowed to earn their paychecks by hauling the sodden hound from the lake, caging it, and guarding it until their wizard superior could locate and administer his potion’s antidote, returning the doomful doggie into a sweet little Chihuahua once more.

[Allyn strums a triumphant chord on the Spanish guitar, then returns to the fiddle for the grand finale.]

Will: The dog was given to a local shelter, whence he was eventually adopted by a loving family; the Merry Men celebrated their successful exploit with the consumption of much pizza with cheese in the crust; and most importantly, Will Scarlet lived on to pester Little John another day. And the Faire existed in peace and safety for the rest of eternity – or until the next awesome threat came to offer some excitement, whichever came first. The end!

[Flamboyant bows on the parts of Will and Allyn. Feel free to clap and cheer, now, audience theirs. 😉 ]