Monday, September 19, 2011

If Life is But a Stage, Why Not Make it a Musical?

Thought for the day:  The books are alive with the sounds of music?

Talk about perfect timing. When I walked into our local convenience store on Saturday, the music immediately started to play: I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me ...  I laughed so hard, I'm sure the clerk considered kicking my keister to the curb. (very politely, of course.)

Okay, so I lied. That didn't actually  happen, but if it HAD, I would've laughed. I mean, I may not actually be fat, but I do seem to have misplaced my waistline a couple years ago. (Now, I'm ... fluffy.)

Anyway, the thing is, I'm still intrigued with the idea of living life with a soundtrack. We had some fun with this topic a while ago, and some of you guys came up with excellent ideas as to what your theme songs should be. (My personal favorite was Delores's idea of the Hallelujah Chorus to signal her entrance.)

But even better than a theme song, what if life were a full-blown musical?

I mean, how cool would it be to have your very own back-up singers?

Oooh, wait. If I'm gonna have background singers, maybe THESE guys would be (ahem) better . . .

Hmm, the possibilities are endless.

And there'd never be a doubt when your significant other was feeling romantic. The music and dancing would be a dead giveaway.

Just think of it. If our politicians had to communicate their ideas to us through song and dance, how much more fun it'd be! Imagine what a session of Congress would look like! They'd be having FUN; we'd be having FUN; and who'd have time to wage wars and mayhem if everything had to be set to music and choreographed first?

(sigh) I know. Ain't gonna happen, but it's fun to think about, anyway. And I'd love to live it . . .  for just one day.

Some writers listen to music as they write. Helps them get in the right mood. But what do you think about a book with its own soundtrack?

Honest to goodness, Jodi Picoult's latest book Sing you Home, an amazing tale about gay rights, reproductive science, and Christian extremists, comes complete with a soundtrack. Each book comes with its own CD of original songs. I mean, how cool is that? I must confess, I didn't actually listen to the CD until after I finished reading the book but still, it's an intriguing concept, isn't it?

And now, the next step: E-books with start-to-finish music, sound effects, and ambient sounds, intended to boost the reader's imagination and engagement. The soundtrack is even supposed to automatically pace itself to match the individual's reading pace.

Booktrack, a New York startup company launched less than two weeks ago, equates today's e-books to the old silent films. Sound revolutionized film; why not books? Their first full-length book release featuring soundtrack will be The Power of Six, a YA novel, to be followed by Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, and The Three Musketeers. This month and next, the short stories In the South, by Salman Rushdie, and Solace, by Jay McInerney, will be released. Currently, availability is limited, and can only be purchased through Apple's App Stores, but expansion into other formats is expected to come in future months.

So, whatcha think? Cost won't be terribly higher, with say, the soundtrack version of The Power of Six only expected to run three dollars more than the regular $9.99 e-version. Think you'd be interested in checking out this new technology?

Me, I dunno. I hate distractions when I'm reading, and a constant soundtrack may prove to be just that. Then again, given the opportunity, I may have to check it out . . .  just for the experience.

(Cue Happy Trails to You and fade to black.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. LOVE the idea of a soundtrack for certain moments in our lives! Grocery store shopping,for instance, needs the theme song to Jaws. Walking into work on Monday mornings needs funeral music.

    However, having one in the background every moment would drive me nuts! I thoroughly enjoy silence.

    As for soundtracks with books -- no thanks. I mostly write and read in quiet, or maybe with the waterfall in my goldfish pond running quietly beside me. (But I'll take my real goldfish pond, thanks, not a recording of one.)

  2. I'm afraid I don't like music when I'm trying to write or when I'm reading (or cooking or cleaning or driving or sleeping). A soundtrack for life? Interesting. Can you turn the volume down on it? It's funny, I like music (some of it) but I seldom have it on. I have tons of CDs and old tapes but they are gathering dust. Hmmmmm.

  3. I think it would distract from the imagination that is so necessary to reading

  4. I love music when I write, but I have to have quiet when I read, no TV or music.

    So no, no soundtracks on books for me.

  5. Hi, Dianne- Your idea of walking into work on Monday morning to the accompaniment of funeral music cracked me up. Then again, it begs the question as to whether the music should indicate how we feel about something or how we WANT to feel. How's about the theme to "Rocky" to get fired up and ready to beat up on a Monday morning? HA!

    Hi, Delores- Oh, absolutely, if life had a soundtrack, it would have to have a volume control. And an off button. I love music, but having it on constantly would drive me insane. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day, my hubby puts Christmas music on as soon as we get up in the morning, and it's really nice to have it on in the background. At first. By the end of the day, I'm ready to blow up the stereo.

    Hi, Al. I think you're right.

    Hi, Skippy. Me, too. Am not a huge fan of people talking to me when my nose is stuck in a book, either.

  6. It's an interesting concept, but I like it quiet when I read. (When I write, too.) I suspect we'll be seeing more and more multimedia offerings in the future, though.

  7. I can't read or write with music. Although for a time I could write with Disney soundtracks in the background. I just had to memorize them first and with The Monster downstairs on the other side of the office, it wasn't hard.

    I suppose the whole technology thing is due to advance, but what if you like the soundtrack better than the book?

  8. I think music would be great for times when I'm out in public, as I don't like being around big groups of people. I always enjoy singing along to songs in the grocery store... sometimes they get a good cheesy one to belt out. I am compelled to sing along to songs, so it's not good when I want to concentrate on words. But for drawing, painting, crafts, etc, music is good. A soundtrack for in-law visits... now that would be great. Something to dramatize all that mind-numbing conversation. "I had to get a rain check on cheese whiz and when I went back to the store a week later, they still didn't have any cheese whiz, so we drove all the way to London and they didn't have any cheese whiz" repeat and expand cheese whiz tale.

    When I used to play Resident Evil on PS1, I used to get so worked up by the suspense-building music and sound effects, that by the time wolves or zombies jumped out at me, I would scream and drop the controller. I think dramatic music to a book might be a bit too much for me. But it's a very interesting idea!

  9. What a song to play in a convenience store where they are selling you quite a bit of junk food.

    I am sitting here thinking of my theme song, but they have changed through the different decades of my life. In my 20s and 30s, when my kids were small, it might have been Silent Night, because that is what I wished for the most. Now, I would love to be positive and say "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries, however, I'd have to add - watch out for thse big pits.

  10. I love this idea to get young readers interested.

    I am off to visit them now.

  11. Growing up I always had music running while I did schoolwork but I'm an old fart now and prefer silence when I read or write. Though if I'm editing, there'll still be ELP, Floyd or Zep on in the background...

    And the backup singers would probably end up dead after a couple of days of them going off everytime I said something. ;)

    Intentionally or not, there is a soundtrack to everyone's life. Can you think of any meaningful moment in your life where a song or bunch of songs weren't present? I can't.

  12. I'd love to have my own back-up singers. Tap dancing men in tuxedos who follow me around? Who could be in a bad mood singing with them all day?

    No to music in books, though. Wouldn't work for me.

  13. Hi, Linda. You're probably right. Whether we like it or not, technology is changing. (Remember when all a telephone did was make a telephone call?)

    Hi, Anne. Geez, how could you possibly write while something like "The Bare Necessities" is playing in the background? I mean, come on. When that song plays, you'd just have to get up and dance around the room with your youngun. I reckon if you like the soundtrack better than the book, you'll do more listening than reading. You kinda have to wonder who gets to decide what music is "right" for the book, too, dontcha?

    Hi, Carrie. I'm compelled to sing along, too. (Blame it on Mitch Miller.) Right off the top of my head, I can't think of anything appropriate to accompany a Cheez Whiz conversation,(too funny!)so I'm afraid you're gonna have to compose that "visit from the in-laws" music yourself. You could CALL it "Blah, Blah, Blah," but I think you'd be better off without any words to get you in trouble. Music only.

    Hi, Starting Over- How's about "Don't Rain on My Parade" as a theme song? Seems like it might suit you.

    Hi, Florida- Cool. We'll be looking for an update from you.

    Hi, Austan- Yeah, I know what you mean about the backup singers, but it sure would be fun for just one day. To a certain extent, I'd agree with you about the role music plays in some of life's meaningful moments. But for me, most of the big moments are without music. ('Cause I'm a much older fart!)

    Hi, L.G.- I'm with you. I think the tap dancing backup singers would be a blast. And the musical books? Not so much.

  14. Oh, this is PERFECT! I want my own personal musical!! That is such a great idea. And your idea about politicians having to communicate via song and dance is pure brilliance. If only...

  15. I've always loved the idea of soundtracks. I used to create playlists of what songs would be included in my novels. And if real life had moments where everyone broke out into song and dance? I'd love it.

  16. Hi, Liz. Yeah, the politicians would be a real hoot. Instead of G-Span, it could be SEE-Span. And heck, most of them are already adept at tap dancing around issues.

    Hi, Shelley. I'd love it, too. After all, life is a cabaret, right?