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Short Story Collection Playlist: Michael Bryson

August 4, 2011

When working on a project, I often listen to a selection of songs on repeat, which helps me focus. If a particular section, sentence, or image is giving me pause, I sometimes cue up one song and hit repeat until the issue is resolved. This can mean one listen or 100. By the time a project is done, I’m left with a mixed tape of where I’ve been with the work. This, I suspected, was not unique. And so I’ve asked some writers to share their playlists.

Kate O'Rouke

Photo credit: Kate O'Rourke

Michael Bryson: Michael has been reviewing books for twenty years and publishing short stories almost as long. His latest publication is an e-version of his novella Only A Lower Paradise: A Story About Fallen Angels and Confusion on Planet Earth. His other books are Thirteen Shades of Black and White (1999), The Lizard (2009) and How Many Girlfriends (2010). In 1999, he founded the online literary magazine, The Danforth Review and published 26 issues of fiction, etcetera, before taking a break in 2009. In fall, 2011 TDR will once again be accepting fiction submissions. He blogs at the Underground Book Club. He has new fiction forthcoming in The New Quarterly (Fall 2011) and new fiction (“The Places You’ll Go”) recently online at Urban Graffiti. He co-parents a daughter and a son. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago. She has survived the disease, the treatment, and a lot else besides.

Whether I write with the music on or the music off, there’s always a tune in my head. Often the song in my head will tell me what I’m thinking. I’ll find myself repeating “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles, for instance, and only then realize that I’ve been reflecting on a particular headline that I read on the way in to work: “I’ve read the news today, oh, boy.” My subconscious seems to transport messages to me through music. Of course, I also have an affinity to certain lyrics, certain phrases, certain rhetorical approaches: “Poets, priests, and politicians/ have words to thank for their positions,” sang The Police. That’s one of my favourite lyrics; it’s clear about the lack of clarity that can be provided by language (“Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” as Aretha Franklin said). You can see this theme in many of the songs on my list. Also, I dig the 2/4 beat, so the first song on the list was a natural. It’s very hard for me to select a 15 song list, so I’ve cheated a bit. As Janis Joplin said, “I’m ready, man!”

Micheal’s 2/4 Playlist

(Click here to play the entire playlist on YouTube)

1. I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
2. Back to Me – Kathleen Edwards
3. All I Want – Joni Mitchell
4. Eminence Front – The Who
5. Smoking Banana Peels – The Dead Milkmen
6. Fulsome Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
7. Short Sharp Shocked (entire LP) – Michelle Shocked
8. A Sort of Homecoming – U2
9. High Water (For Charlie Patton) – Bob Dylan
10. Mimi on the Beach – Jane Sibbery
11. Helpless – k.d. lang sings Neil Young
12. Stage Fright – The Band
13. Revolution (White Album version) – The Beatles
14. Shelter from the Storm (live, Hard Rain version) – Bob Dylan
15. Lucky Star – Madonna
16. The Seeker – The Who
17. Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
18. I Don’t Want to be a Soldier – John Lennon
19. Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell

Have a novel/short story collection/poetry playlist you want to share? Email me at dani dot couture at gmail dot com.

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