The Bushwick Book Club, the literary songwriting endeavor that Susan Hwang has been running at Goodbye Blue Monday, has been getting some nice publicity recently and also broken out into a new venue. Ron Hogan, the presenter of a literary series at the Mercantile Library asked if songwriters from the B. B. C. would interpret two new novels for an event timed to the Book Expo conference (the event was held at the Slipper Room on Orchard Street). Four of us: Susan, Phoebe Kreutz, Duck and Swallow, and myself signed up and were asked to write songs about debut novels by Sarah Rainone and Rakesh Satyal. Three of us focused on Sarah Rainone's novel "Love Will Tear us Apart," which is written in the alternating voices of four friends who reunite at a wedding. (Susan wrote a song based on Rakesh Satyal's book "Blue Boy.")
Reading these books can be a good way of getting inspiration for a song. In my own case the books seem to shake loose concepts that have already kind of been floating around in my subconscious. I took Sarah's book as a jumping off point to look at weddings, focusing on a lineage of marriages in my family. I actually did a fair amount of research to try to get details of my grandparents' wedding, or at least what it possibly could have been like, and I also spoke to my mom about her wedding to my dad. I have no way of really knowing how accurate my interpretation of this history is but at least in my own mind the process helped me develop a better understanding of the personality dynamics in two generations of our family.
By the way, interestingly enough both authors read from their books and also performed songs themselves. Sarah appeared as one of the characters from her book--a gay male character named Shawn--and performed the Joy Division song that provided the title of the book. Rakesh evidently has another career as a cabaret singer and performed "Part of Your World," from The LIttle Mermaid (I understand the song makes an appearance in the book).
I was really glad to see the Time Out New York article this week on the Book Club. Susan runs the whole thing in an efficient but very low key way, and it's nice that she and the project are gaining some recognition.
I'll be back in October for "Confederacy of Dunces."