A Theme Song for an eBook

Having grown up seeing images of the Beatles recording at Abbey Road, I’ve always wondered what it was like inside a recording studio. I finally got my chance. Last weekend, my musician friends abducted me to record a theme song to my new ebook: Tarot: The Magician. The results were tremendous.

The “John Lennon” of the group was Bradley Coy. This was a surreal experience for me in many ways, not the least being that I taught this young man back when he was in sixth grade. He was phenomenal musician then and even better now.

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Bradley Coy with Mark C. Jackson in the foreground.

He recycled an old melody he’d written to create the “theme song” for my book. Now I know what you’re thinking: books don’t have theme songs. So true. But book trailers do. I have animated a book trailer. Being that I have only enough knowledge of music to be dangerous, I wanted some sort of professional song to score the 40 seconds of animated trailer.

Given my druthers, I probably would have lifted a song, ran it backward through some filters. It wouldn’t have been good, but serviceable. Fortunately, Bradley materialized form the musical woodwork and transformed his melody into a perfect compliment to the atmosphere of the book.

We visited the recording studio of David Morgan, who has outfitted his room with more guitars and sound equipment than the average Guitar Center. He had recorded plenty of albums there for local artists, but he was curious about scoring music to a video. It turned out to more tricky than you’d think.

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David Morgan suggesting how to match the music to the video.

Bradley would play the melody flawlessly, but the timing to the video eluded him. Or he’d nail it, only to boff a chord near the end. Thankfully we had the guiding presence of Mark C. Jackson, a fellow musician and writer. He knew that the first dozen takes were simply warm up for the real performance. As we neared that “perfect” moment, his energy spiked. He leapt out of his seat to encourage Bradley to create the perfect mixture of melancholy and gloominess (yes, that’s the tone for the book).

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Mark C Jackson suggesting how to line up the music with the video.

Bradley’s whole take on the melody was one of a vintage piano with a vaudevillian touch. He and I both share a yen for the Beats and the Surrealists. It seemed natural that the music for a surrealistic novel be a riff from the 1930s.

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Bradley seriously contemplating the melody.

What was I doing during all this? Not a lot. Mostly I played the documenter, snapping pictures to capture the moment. Bradley finally nailed it, leaving the end of the melody dangling like an unanswered question. It might bug some people, but for me, it was simply perfect.

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There I am, observing all of this. I get writing. But music recording baffles me.

You can listen to the track here. The full trailer will be revealed at the end of May.

Tim Kane

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I Used To Think My Right Hand Was Uglier Than My Left (The art of Ken Nordine)

I discovered Ken Nordine I don’t know how long ago. But he’s addicting. You see, he’s not exactly a poet and much more than a musician. He’s a bard working in the realm of jazz. Yet even that doesn’t do him justice. Well here, take a listen.

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Yes, listen. His voice is so soothing, you forget that he’s taking you down a surreal path into the ridiculous and poignant. Most of these (can I really call them songs?) come from a series of albums titled Word Jazz that came out in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This first song/story, titled “Magenta,” comes from an album I don’t have, yet I love the animation that has been attached to it.

This next listen, “My Baby,” is just plain silly. Many of his song/stories are structured in this way. A sort of confessional as he tells you his secret. He speaks to you as if you’re in the room with him. Look for the twist at the end.

This is one of my all time favorites. It’s called “I Used To Think My Right Hand Was Uglier Than My Left.” Now that’s a title for you. Who wouldn’t be drawn to that?

“Down the Drain” embodies a serene feeling I get when I take a bath. Maybe you get it too. Although I don’t know if my mind travels to all the places Ken’s does.

“The Sound Museum” is just what is sounds like, a museum of modern sound “paintings”. Bizarre, I know, but Ken Nordine pulls it off. Take a listen.

At this point you might be wondering why you recognize his voice. Ken Nordine has such a deep and captivating voice, that he’s done many voice overs and commercials. He was even the coach for Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

When you have a chance, pick up one of his albums, sit back, and let his voice carry you into new realms of thought.

Tim Kane