Tag Archives: music

Birthday wishes: August 1, 1939

The late Robert James Waller would have been 78 today.  He was born on August 1, 1939, in Charles City, Iowa.  In my post below on the day of his passing (March 10, 2017), I commented on him and his contributions to the world; we would be poorer without the literary, musical, and academic gifts he shared.  If the novel “The Bridges of Madison County” were all that he gave us, it would have been more than enough.

In March, Robert, you set forth on the ultimate journey.  If you could, I know you would write an essay to describe the wonders now surrounding you, and you’d share it with us, perhaps in the pages of the Des Moines Register newspaper.  I’d be pleased to see just one more byline with your name on it.  But we must be content with the words and music you left us.  And we are.

Perhaps I will see a peregrine today, or I can let my face be caressed by the warm southern winds as I hear a distant train.  There will be a waltz running through my mind.

You were my friend, and my hero.  Happy Birthday, Robert.  I would have sent a card, but I don’t know the address.

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From Music to Words

As a writer of fiction, I am inspired by numerous things.  One of my foremost sources is music, and specifically, movie soundtracks.  Countless times I have donned headphones and immersed myself in movie music from my extensive collection of soundtracks.  YouTube works too.  The scores never fail to create pictures in my mind: settings for stories, images of scenes, even dialogue between characters, whether for short stories or novels.  This makes sense, as movie scores are written to accompany moving visual images.  And of course, the scores do more.  They instill nuance and emotion, mood and depth, energy and passion, to the movies/stories they support.  A movie without music becomes little more than a slide show.

Among the titles in my collection of soundtracks are numerous scores to movies I’ve never seen.  This might seem strange, but if a soundtrack comes from one of my favorite composers of movie music, then there is a high likelihood that it will appeal to me (inspire me) even without having seen the flick.  As well, since I use the scores as inspiration for writing fiction, my subconscious forces of creativity are free to assign any images to a piece of music as I listen, images which can be, and are often, unrelated to those which the score was originally written.  Such is the beauty and versatility of movie music.

I have a long list of movie music maestros that I enjoy, but my favorites are John Barry (Out of Africa, Dances With Wolves), Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek, The Blue Max), Hans Zimmer (The DaVinci Code, Inception), James Horner (Field of Dreams, Titanic), and John Williams (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars).  Each of these composers has a long list of film credits on their resume, more than I could include within a reasonably short blog post.  As well, there are other likes: Ennio Morricone, Tangerine Dream, Elmer Bernstein, Alan Silvestri, Basil Poledouris . . . well, this list could go on for some time.  I like to acquire albums of collected movie theme songs too, as these tracks will have a distilled and powerful emotional impact providing a great musical listening experience as well as inspiration for fiction. 

I began my collection of soundtracks with vinyl LPs (making a comeback these days), and it has grown through cassettes, and into CDs.  It’s an eclectic mix, but I lean toward sweeping emotional scores with powerful and dramatic themes.  For me, this kind of music offers a quick translation into images for the page.  Instrumental music from artists such as Yanni also does this, as long as there are no words.  No words!  My inspirational music for fiction can’t contain vocals because the words direct the listener to a specific image, and only in rare cases does this apply to what I’m writing.  I listen to music with vocals for all the usual reasons and I have my preferences there too.  

It’s an inherent paradox: music without words, to create words on the page.

Out from the shadows: An Eternal Melody

By Paul James Zack

Stories and scenes come alive in the time shadows of our minds.  An elusive fragment of late afternoon rests on your thoughts . . . the ephemeral light of an ancient evening embraces the land . . . the bonds of physical reality float away in the vastness of the night.

Time shadows.  Where you have been.  And where you never were.  A person you loved, once upon a season, long ago, but still today.  Do they remember?  Did they ever know?

Always the stories.  The stories remain, after the parting, after the dust disappears on the wind.  The stories allow us to live, and live again.  Can we ask for anything more?

An Eternal Melody is the story of cowboy singer Casey Beckett and western artist Victoria Ames.  Casey, fast approaching the middle of his life, is a man out of place in a world run by clocks and computers.  Bonded to the land with his Wyoming roots, yet driven by restlessness he can only vaguely understand, he travels the country to sing and recite cowboy poetry.  Victoria, middle-aged and separated from her husband, is struggling to follow her dreams.  She yearns to live in the infinite vistas of the western landscapes she creates on canvas, but wonders if her desires can ever be attained in a life where her every step forward has been matched by retreat.

When Casey walks into Victoria’s art gallery on a hot June day, their lives are forever changed as they begin a passionate romance transcending the boundaries of time and place.  Written in poetic prose, An Eternal Melody is an unforgettable tapestry of tenderness and yearning, defining what it means to dance to the music within one’s heart.  Set in harmony with the lyrical soul of the land, this love story reminds us that hope can exist even at the darkest hours, at the final curtain, and that with courage and affirmation, a man and a woman together can fulfill their shared destiny.  An Eternal Melody will speak to your spirit and haunt you with its passion.

This book is now available on Amazon Kindle (please click on the link below).  Exploring the pages of this site, you will find photographs from scenes in the book, poetry from Casey Beckett, and the first chapter of the story.  Read, imagine, experience.  Find a place in the time shadows of your mind.  And your heart.

To purchase an e-book copy of this book from Amazon Kindle, please click on the title: An Eternal Melody   Thank you!