Short Fiction

Week 336: The Words of Prophets and My Unsteady Jukebox

The Words of the Prophets

I had lost the ability to hear The Sound of Silence until Disturbed brought it back brilliantly in 2015. My mind gets that way with songs; I can hear them too many times–at that saturation point they assume the guise of an echo that my mind ignores upon further soundings. But Distubed’s over the top yet somehow restrained remake of the Simon and Garfunkel classic brought back to me one of the truly great lines in the history of music: The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls…

I wonder what Paul Simon felt when he wrote that line in 1965. Did it excite him or was he so lost in composition that it was just more words to choose from. I also wonder what Da Vinci experienced when he finished Mona Lisa. Did he bask in the glow of his own genius or eat cheese? Now, obviously you can ask Simon the question, but I doubt he could give you the actual answer because time has a way of reshaping memories, and inevitably a legend of some sort will creep in and take the actual event’s shape. I’m not saying he’d lie, but there stands a chance he’d buy the mirage.

There are too many to mention yet still not enough brilliant passages in writing that I consider acts of genius…the opening paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House…the closing sentence in The Great Gatsby. When Hunter S. Thompson began writing, he actually typed-out entire novels written by authors he admired in effort to perhaps grasp what they were thinking. I can see him sitting there sipping rum, cigarette holder protruding from his mouth, banging out The Sun Also Rises.

Maybe it worked. After all, Thompson went on to a distinguished career, even though it ended the same as Hemingway’s.

Yet not all great works are quotable. I consider John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath first rate, and although the story is clear in my mind, I cannot offer any lines from it–except maybe Jim Casey saying “everything that lives is holy.” The book is an accumulation of little things that add up to something big.

From such thinking I’ve arrived at my own highly subjective conclusion on the topic of genius: The Words of the Prophets Are Accidentally on Purpose Wise. I guess that’s just another way to state that genius comes about organically, without guile.

Only time will tell if any or all of this week’s stories have the goods to survive the long haul. Maybe centuries from now the words of Elson or Seyedbagheri will be written on the spaceport walls; could be that someone yet born will copy the works of Kitcher or Gromsley or Lohrey onto her frontal thinking lobe, the way we tattoo our skin. But some things are for certain: each one is off to an excellent start in the journey toward forever, and each one is worthy of praise and respect, no matter how fleeting or long their futures may be.

Monday, Thomas Elson appeared for the second time in two weeks with his haunting lament It’s All I Can Do. It’s told from a unique point of view and well worth looking at if you have yet to do so.

The plain fact that ever-misspelling Yours Truly can write the name Yashar Seredbagheri out as confidently as her own, is indicative of Yash’s prolific output. With his understated, yet emotionally charged, Cold appearing Tuesday, Yash has hit the mark twenty-eight times within eleven and a half months since his site debut and stands at twenty-six this year alone–and there’s plenty more to come.

Wednesday saw the fine debut of William Kitcher’s Swinging at the Daisy Chain. “…been looking at bands for thirty years and the only thing that changes are the clothes…” Wry and slightly cynical, the author displays a touch for irony.

The week’s second first time LS contributor, Mark Gormley rocked Thursday with This Ol’ House. There are similarities between this piece and Kitcher’s, but the tones are utterly different. And both work. Well. We are confident that we will see more from our debut authors as time goes by.

Friday saw the eleventh story by the inimitable David Lohrey. Danse Russe is a manic and feverish thing that I will not soon forget. Like Hunter S. Thompson, I see Mr. Lohrey huddled over his machine, single-mindedly relating all the chaos within and without his hotel room.

There they are, out to take a bow, the five gentlemen who were the Prophets of the week that was. May the words of each one reach deep into eternity.

And now…

My Unsteady Jukebox

The end to my previous Saturday post was rescued by a special appearance by Frederick K. Foote. No such luck this time. Normality has slunk back from its exile, finding my mind barren save for lists.

I’ve got all kinds of lists. Even lists of lists. And this week I present two lists of songs from My Unsteady Jukebox (which is actually a moderately priced tablet and an even cheaper bluetooth speaker).

I have plucked nine songs I find especially sad and nine others that edge me along the mirage of happiness. And there are open tenth slots in both lists, which have been included in a cynical attempt to encourage audience participation.

Now, subjectively speaking of course, there are songs that most people think are sad but wouldn’t be as sad if not for their connection to the truth. Clapton’s Tears in Heaven comes to mind. If not for the tragedy of his son’s death I would not find the tune especially sad. Melancholy, certainly, but not unmercifully sad, so it failed to make the cut. Furthermore, songs that are purposely sad just to sell records, like those from the teen-killing hit machine of the early sixties, are omitted–although there is one on my list from 1976 that seems to be from the same cloth.

There is little to be said about the nine happy songs. It’s best not to pry into such things; you risk scaring off their magic. Sadness is woven into the fabric of spacetime, thus eternal, happiness cannot exist without end.

Nine Sad Songs From My Unsteady Jukebox

  • 1916, Motorhead (yes, as in Lemmy Kilmeister)
  • Shannon, Henry Gross (a 1976 dead pet ditty)
  • Interstate Love Song, Stone Temple Pilots
  • Love is Blue, Paul Mauriat
  • Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack
  • Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce
  • Landslide, Stevie Nicks
  • Irene Wilde, Ian Hunter
  • She’s Leaving Home, The Beatles

Nine Songs That Edge Along the Mirage Called Happiness

  • September, Earth, Wind and Fire
  • Give Up the Funk, Parliament
  • In a Big Country, Big Country
  • My Girl Lollipop, Bad Manners (I thank Hugh for bringing that into my life)
  • Viva Las Vegas, The Dead Kennedys
  • You, George Harrison
  • Yakety Sax, Boots Randolph–but mostly, The Benny Hill Show
  • Cherry Bomb, The Runaways
  • Pretty Baby, Blondie (the entire Parallel Lines album, for that matter)

Special Notice: A pox upon any head that even thinks “Baby Shark.” I leave you with a pair of brilliant Llamas.

Leila

17 thoughts on “Week 336: The Words of Prophets and My Unsteady Jukebox”

  1. Sad song: Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

    Happiness mirage song: I Want to Hold Your Hand by the Beatles because of the nostalgie it stirs in me.

    “Sadness is woven into the fabric of spacetime, thus eternal, happiness cannot exist without end.“ That’s a fabulous line.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy songs. Well I had my music forming years in the Liverpool in the sixties so there are quite a number but

    You were made for me by Freddie and the Dreamers because it’s silly and reminds me of – well lots of stuff.

    Love to torment myself with songs that make me blub – The Old Man by Davey Arthur for obvious reasons though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Leila,
    Excellent post as usual!!
    I think cheese eating is a criminally underrated activity. (Five Counties Cheese with Wheaten Crackers and a few glasses of Cabernet makes the world a happy place!)
    I’ve been thinking on the songs. All that have been mentioned before are excellent. I have a soft spot for ‘The Green Fields Of France’ too.
    But what I did was to try and not think on memories or the actual words and just go with emotion.
    So happy songs (I can never just mention one!!) for no reason other than they make me smile are:

    I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick.
    Heavy People – Kate Bush
    The Boxer Beat – Joe Boxers
    Suki Yaki – Kyu Sakamoto

    Sad ones are:

    Flower Duet – Any Version
    Rag Doll – Aerosmith (To be fair, this makes me sad as I know that it will be played at my funeral!!)
    Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
    The Ladder – Prince

    I would like to mention two songs that can make me happy or sad in equal measures depending on my mood:

    Oh Yeah – Roxy Music
    Dreamboat Annie – Heart

    I always love to think on a tune!!
    Cheers Leila!
    Hugh

    Like

    1. More outstanding selections for the Unsteady Jukebox. I forgot to include “I’m Winning” by Santana on my mirage of happiness side, but this gives me the chance to mention it and The Streets of Laredo for proper imbalance.
      Thank you.
      Leila

      Like

      1. Hi Leila,
        I forgot to say – Love the Llamas!!!!
        If you get a chance, check out YouTube – Duracell Bunny Keeps On Running
        Mad bunny and some cracking Scottish patter.
        Hugh

        (Jesus – I’ve not thought of Marty Robbins for years. My mum had an album which she played very loudly when I was coming in home from school and trying to be all interesting to my friends and girls I was trying to impress. It doesn’t work when ‘Streets Of Laredo’ was playing.
        I told my pal this and he said – You’re lucky. Ma mither loves Seven Tears by The Goombay Dance Band.)

        Like

  4. Old man doesn’t know most of those songs. KIlling Me Softly is a 5 on my itunes. Happy? Roll With It / Steve Winwood, Let’s Stay Together / Al Green, Now That I Can Dance / Contours, mind quits early. Much better at Sad “Stranger In My Home Town” Elvis / Percy Mayfield, You Win Again / Jerry Lee Lewis, I Was The One / Elvis Again, oldie Miss Otis Regrets, Going Home Tomorrow / Little Richard (restrained this time out). Project – sad song count vs. happy. I think sad would win by a large margin. True saying – losing hurts worse than winning feels good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t Elvis sing “In the Ghetto” as well? Your fine list made me think of another missed sad song from long ago “Walk Away Renee.” I like that Winwood tune on your list very much.
      Thank you for playing.
      LA

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes to question. I forget who it was offered to first who passed because he / they had done too many protest songs. Many Fats “Valley of Tears”. Depression star Neil (my middle name) not so Young “Cowgirl In The Sand”, “Down By The River”, .”Helpless” can’t forget that one.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Whiter Shade of Pale. It sounds like a dirge that describes a wild party. If I could have written one song, just one, that would be “the one”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad song – Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”, which is better than Nine Inch Nails’ version, especially if you see the video, contrasting the young Johnny and the old Johnny.

    Happy songs – “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. During the misery of the hair bands of the 1980s, this was a breath of fresh air. Beatles – “Hey Jude” – the last several minutes of “na na na etc.” are joyful and inspiring. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” – pretty silly song but when you have a bar full of people singing it, it’s truly an anthem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sir.
      Well observed. An Unsteady Jukebox without Johnny Cash in it is a poor one indeed. Queen is also a must. Thank you for your contribution! (There is a secret section in my Unsteady Jukebox that collects all hair metal power ballads. I consider them neither sad nor that happy. They are more along the lines of museum pieces.)

      LA

      Like

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