Some thoughts on Christmas, as the vile triumph around us

bully

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called “Souls of the Departed,” on his album, Lucky Town. After describing the death of a seven-year-old boy killed in a gang-related drive-by, he observes, His mama cried, “My beautiful boy’s dead” In the hills the self-made men just sighed and shook their heads But then, as always, Springsteen brings it down to … Read More

Some Thoughts from Down at the Crossroads

Crossroads

WARNING: Contains spoilers for the 1986 movie Crossroads (not the 2002 Britney Spears film). If you haven’t seen it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I recently rewatched Walter Hill’s movie Crossroads, and was surprised by how much I had internalized its depiction of the relationship between music and magic, and how that had influenced my own Tufa novels. I first saw it … Read More

The original “Chapel of Ease”

chapel final

As we close in on the September release of the fourth Tufa novel, Chapel of Ease, I wanted to share the song that gave the book its title. As with the prior three (and subsequent two) books in the series, the title comes from a song by Jennifer Goree (you can read about how our paths crossed here). It’s found … Read More

Godfather of Green: Danny Mullikin of Tuatha Dea on the Green Album

Green Album cover

Last year, in one of the greatest bits of synchronicity I’ve ever been part of, the band Tuatha Dea released Tufa Tales: Appalachian Fae, an album based on and inspired by my first three Tufa novels. I was also lucky enough to appear at four different events with them, to be featured (briefly) in their video for “Wisp of a … Read More

Inspiration and “Copperhead Road”

Copperhead_road

When I teach writing classes, I often play the song “Copperhead Road,” by Steve Earle for the students. If you don’t know it, here’s the video.   When it’s over, I point out what makes the song so extraordinary. It tells the story of three generations of men named Conlee* Pedimore; grandfather was a moonshiner, father was a bootlegger, and … Read More

How everyone, deep down, is “Like Me”

Chely Wright with flag

So one time I met Chely Wright. It was around 1998. I worked in a Nashville mall at the Bombay Company, a repulsive chain store that sold overpriced foreign-made furniture and faux artsy knickknacks. I was the assistant manager, and took it as seriously as I did most of my other jobs, which meant that I worked no harder than … Read More

Guest Post: Touching from a 35-year Distance

joy-divisionrehearsal

April 30 marked the 35-year anniversary of Joy Division’s video for “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” in many ways their most defining, and certainly best-known, song. I discovered their music shortly after the death of singer and lyricist Ian Curtis in 1980, and they’ve been one of my touchstone bands ever since. But I wondered if they were simply a … Read More

Guest blog: Sonya Clark on Getting the Music Right

Guitar_fretboard_closeup

I meet a lot of writers through social media, and one day I was chatting with Sonya Clark, author of the Magic Born trilogy and two novels in the Bradbury Institute series. It turns out she’s working on a novel about music, and her thoughts on that intrigued me so much that I asked her to share them with my blog readers. … Read More

Coming this fall: the ultimate Tufa event

Tufa albums

So here’s the big news: On September 18 and 19, 2015, the Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire  in Greenville, SC will present the ultimate Tufa event. For the first time ever you’ll have the music that inspired the Tufa, and the music inspired by the Tufa, at the same place as the guy (me) who writes about the Tufa. “Huh?” you say. … Read More

Your Musical Community Is Where You Find It

Cadillac's, the bar where I grew up.

Music as a communal event is difficult for someone like me, who doesn’t play any instrument and doesn’t (or shouldn’t) sing. I’ve attended concerts where the sense of community was created by the shared music we all knew, or by the intense efforts of the performer to make sure that connection happened. But for the most part, I’ve always been … Read More