How the discotheque helped me find that missing music needle in my rock-fiction haystack
There's a chapter in Welcome to Parkview that was originally conceived in 1993 during the first draft of the novel. It was technically my very very first true rock-fiction piece as an author because, while Welcome to Parkview as a whole was *inspired* by Billy Joel's "Piano Man" but was not a direct adaptation of the song, this particular chapter (titled "Tiger") was, indeed, an actual adaptation of a song. The only problem was, when I was writing it in 1993, I only had a vague memory of the song from my childhood. I had no idea who the band was or what the song was titled. I just remembered the *story line* of the song. And I remembered listening to it A LOT on 8-Track when I was a wee boy. So here I was, in 1993 and putting the first skeletal outline of Welcome to Parkview together, and that song jumped into my creative brain, and I wrote that whole chapter only from the memories of a song that I thought was gone forever in the annals of my long-lost childhood music collection (Every attempt at describing the song to people in an attempt to locate it again just returned looks of confusion and the shaking of heads.) I had come to grips with the fact that I may die and still never track down what the heck that song was that had been so integral in shaping the trigger incident of the book that took me 19 years to write. It would just have to be one of those things—always having something in the peripheral of your memory but knowing you’d never be able to see it clearly in front of you … ever; kind of like when there’s a word on the tip of your tongue and you need everyone to be quiet so you can have a chance to recall that word. That has been me for the past 25 years with this four-minute song. Only it has been more important than just “trying to remember a word”; it has literally been the song that truly was my first rock-fiction adaptation. “Piano Man” was the first inspiration; this song literally sent everything into motion in my novel … and it had been eluding me for more than half my life. Until today. Last week, 27 years after starting Welcome to Parkview, I randomly bought and listened to an album called Arrival by a band named ABBA. When track 9 started (completely unaware of the emotional roller coaster I would go on within the next few nanoseconds), I almost leapt out of my chair, threw my headphones across the room, and wanted to dance and yell and clap and call every single person who I had bothered over the last almost 3 decades about the song that had been so important to being a rock-fiction author. The song “Tiger” by ABBA hit the first verse, and I almost crumpled to my office floor, thanking the gods of coincidence and patience for making me buy this album (albeit 27 years too late lol) today. The name of the chapter in Welcome to Parkview, is actually TITLED “Tiger”!!! I always thought I just came up with the name, but obviously, the song had been closer to the top of my subconscious than I ever thought when I wrote that chapter in 1993. Singing along to the track just now, I could see so clearly within the lyrics of the song all the throes of that chapter and how the town explodes from those actions described in the song. I loved my ABBA 8-track cassettes when I was a kid, but if, back in 93 when I was frantically trying to figure out what song was like continuous knocking in my brain to write it into my then WIP, you told me it was an ABBA song I was thinking of, I would’ve told you to go play in traffic (there’s no way that someone who was taking their writing career as seriously as I was back in the 1991-1993 time frame would have let a band like ABBA mold and shape my HORROR novel, of all genres!). But, there you have it. Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” may have been my first inspiration into trying to turn the ideas of a song or album into a piece of fiction, but I’m flabbergasted right now that it was ABBA who I used to translate liter lyrics to the page. My mind as an author, as a husband, as a father, as a HUMAN BEING is absolutely blown right now. I’m also beside myself that I actually found this song after so many decades of it always being “the one that got away” after a completely random Amazon digital album purchase this morning, only because I really wanted to own the album that had the song “Dancing Queen” on it, and for no other reason than that. And there it was. The song “Tiger,” just sitting there, waiting to be played, waiting to be heard, waiting to put the first exclamation mark at the end of the first sentence of my rock-fiction career 27 years ago. After all these years, I haven’t stopped facepalming that it’s ABBA! And that I somehow turned that song into such a violent chapter that catapults the plot line of an equally violent and macabre novel. Who said disco wasn’t evil?