Monday, March 3, 2014

I TRIED TO WRITE A SONG BUT I WROTE A NOVEL INSTEAD . . .

SO I'VE DEVOTED my career to the record industry (it's been the best gig in the world!) for the better part of three decades, on two continents (North America & Africa). During that time I've produced recordings, designed album covers, "played" in front of the mic (cowbells, hand claps and sundry percussion), and even pressed vinyl records on the factory floor.

BUT I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN A SONG...


Now, being a fan of both music and history, Messrs. Jagger & Richard's "Sympathy for The Devil" is for me an extraordinary composition. Those two English lads, as youngsters, captured two thousand years of history (and mayhem) in a ditty less than seven minutes is a true tour de force. Having come up with the song title, "A Rhapsody in Black, White, and Dread" I sat down to compose a historical-themed composition with a similar vibe, but with a distinctive Southern African twist. 


It was intended as a sonic rant through time of South Africa's painful history--from the nation's birth as a pit-stop for Dutch traders en route to the Far East, the Anglo-Boer wars, the Great Trek, the discovery of gold and diamonds, the curse of apartheid, the first Dr, Christian Barnard's human heart transplant, Gary Player's golf handicap, Soweto Riots, Steve Biko, a famous rugby victory, and eventual redemption in the person of Nelson Mandela.

Alas, all those years in the music business, and knowing some of the finest musicians and songwriters around, came to naught. In fact my music industry "pedigree" contributed absolutely nothing. In reflection, I must have hoped that I'd acquired some song-writing skills via osmosis due my close proximity to these rock gods--but it wasn't to be. After fruitless hours I found myself stuck with a rather cool song title and a recycle bin filled with crumpled pages.


But I had put pen to paper, and that was the breakthrough! I guess we all have stories percolating within, but it's very difficult to begin. However, my failed attempt to write a song was the catalyst that took some abstract notions, and shaped them in a way that was totally unexpected. With the first tentative strike of the keyboard I was on my way; and my inability to articulate my vision in several song verses thankfully morphed into eighty-thousand plus words instead! And presto [after two years of introspection] a failed song became the book, THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE.


P.S. I tip my hat off to all those songwriter's out there.


by Mark Fine