The influence of music and a savoury bread - an homage to Chris Cornell on his untimely death
When I thought about this week's post, my mind started constructing a text about music, yet again. I always write the post one day before I do actually post it on the blog. I was gonna talk about how certian songs influenced me in my writing, and then I opened my Facebook account and my world kind of came crashing down. The first thing I saw was that Chris Cornell had died. See, when grunge music hit the nineties, everyone was Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I was Faith no More, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. I was Chris Cornell, such was my crush on this man. Almost as big as my crush on Mike Patton, actually. But the voice, for me it was always Cornell, His voice broke the night, he was the night. He was my favourite voice in the grunge universe. Did his music influence my writing? Not with Soundgarden, no, nor with Temple of the Dog - actually, scratch that, 'You call me a dog' actually did influence a certain dialogue in one of my old novels. But with Audioslave,yeah, I drank inspiration from 'Like a Stone' and 'I am the Highway'. There's no denying it. He even served as basis for certain characters - try and find him in my books.
I don't want to dwell on the sadness of his death, I want to remember this man for how talented he was, how poetic he was, and how beautiful a voice he had. His songs will live on, thankfully. And for that I will always be grateful, you know? I have this thing about being grateful for these musicians and songwriters whose music has influenced my writing. It's magical, I tell you, when a song touches you so deeply as to immediately form a story in your head, or a character, or a dialogue, or a single chapter, even. I have been influenced by so many talented artists where it comes to music, and I cannot stress my thanks to them enough. Maybe that's why I rant about music here all the time, you know? Because certain things get stuck in the mind and it may be years before it actually comes out, but it always does. I was fifteen when I first heard King Diamond's amazing album "Them". It stuck to the back of my mind, it did, like a breeze, a melody playing on the background. More than ten years later, it was the influence behind one of my short stories, which is actually called "Them". It's a horror story, as it should, but deals with bullying and homophobia. And I can't thank King Diamond enough for being the influence behind a piece of writing I am actually quite proud of.
Aphex Twin's video 'Come to Daddy' on the other hand took about five minutes to deliver in my mind a complete horror short story. The music was not the influence, I must confess, it was the weirdness of the video. It is still to this day one of my favourite videos ever, one that still sends that little cold shiver down the back of my spine. And it was the motor behind what I believe to be my best short story ever. It deals with racism and religion, that one, and the story is really a very good one. Thank you for that video, Aphex Twin. Then there's Cradle of Filth, whose first two albums were such inspiration to my early writing as to have influenced entire chapters in what was my first vampire novel. As for my second novel, which drank its influence from the "Black Metal Inner Circle" of early Norwegian BM bands like Mayhem and Burzum, the song playing on repeat was 'Tomhet', from Burzum's best album "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss". I even had this song as ringtone on my cell phone for many years. The ambiance it renders is palpable in all the pages of that novel. That and Draconian's hymn "Death Come Near Me". It's a story about love and death and going to extremes, falling under extreme beliefs of self destruction and power trips. The thematics was a good one, the result? Not so good, the writing is atrocious.
And then there are those songs that cling to you like forever, and they never seem to be there, visible in your work, but they are. I have one such song, the song I always say it is the best song ever written. It is not my favourite song, I grant you, but the elements in it make it as far as I am concerned, the best song ever. There's the eerie melody, catchy at the same time so as to plant itself in your mind. There's the great lyrics, akin to a juicy horror story, with such evocative scenes as to make it easy for you to build up a story in your head, so visual the writing is. There's that strong leading female character, the femme fatale of sorts, the haunted being, between a witch and a vampire in my imagination. And then, there's that bloody amazing guitar solo. I mean, that guitar solo alone has me wetting my knickers in awe of such talent. You must have guessed by now that I'm talking about "Hotel California" here. That female character described in the song has haunted my imagination for years on end. Finally, I took inspiration from the feel I get from her to compose a character. See, whenever I hear that song I think vampire queen. There's nothing to do, I think it's the part of "pretty, pretty boys that she calls friends" and "How they dance in the courtyard" that does it for me. So the idea of that woman who stands in doorway and lifts up her candle has kind of been behind a certain female vampire in my latest novels.
So, we come to this, music influences my writing so deeply as to be inextricable from it, sometimes verging on the plagiarism. Like this sort of focaccia, sort of Easter Portuguese folar. It goes to Italy to plagiarise the flavours of good Italian food, it drinks its influence from hearty Portuguese savoury breads. It's a combo made in heaven, actually, a little token of homage to the marvelous artist Chris Cornell was. Say hello to heaven, Chris. And here's how you can go about it, if you care to cook this bread:
- 350 gr strong bread flour
- 7 gr baker's yeast
- 200 ml lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1, 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- a handful of olives, without pits
- 150 gr prosciutto
- a handful of sundried tomatoes
- oregano to taste