Award Winner Songwriter,
Kevin Beadles Interviewed
The Story Behind the Song
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Q: "Shouldn' do this...
Shouldn' do that..."
Shouldn' is your latest song on YouTube. I like this little bit country song. It's the humor and beat which is addictive. How did you come up with the story for this song?
A. My wife, Wendy, heard someone say that when you beat yourself up over things you shouldn't have done, all you're doing is shouldn' [sh*ttin'] on yourself.
I thought that was pretty funny... sounded like something straight out of a country song. So I started imagining what sort of character might talk this way. A ne'er-do-well, hard-drinking, hard-living kind seemed to fit the bill. What I really like about this character is that everyone else wants him to change but he's perfectly happy with himself:
"When I wake up dead I won't regret a single thing I've done
I always listen to my conscience, it tells me, 'Boy, have some fun!'"
Once that was settled, the story came quickly.
Q: I know I shouldn't ask, but have you "shouldn'" a lot in life?
A. Sadly, no. But I'm sure my kids will make up for it!
Q. How important is story when writing lyrics?
A. With a story-telling song, it's vital of course, and it's hard to beat a really good story song. But story songs are tricky. You usually only get two 4-line verses and a 2-or 4-line bridge to tell the story. The chorus can't change too much or it won't be catchy. So when you only get 10-12 lines to tell your story, every line has to count.
But there are several types of lyrics. Songs like "Shouldn'" are character-driven. The goal is simply to bring a person to life. Others like "This Might Get Loud" are about capturing a feeling. Instead of story, you depict a situation. The singer has decided to risk everything and tell his best friend he's fallen in love with her. We're not given much back story and we don't learn what happens next (though we're pretty sure it's going to work out and get "really loud"). So instead of story, the focus is on internal dialogue, the hopes & fears that have led up to this decision.
Regardless of the lyric type, point-of-view is a critical decision. Once I know who the singer is and who he's singing to, I feel pretty confident that a song's going to come together.
Q. "This Might Get Loud" won the Grand Prize for the Great American Song Contest. Again, the lyrics are very playful. In fact, a great many of your lyrics have a humorous nature. How important is humor in song writing?
"We might whisper what we're feeling
And let our bodies shout"
A. Humor is definitely a key part of my tool kit. It keeps things from getting too heavy even when you're dealing with hard subjects. I used a lot of dark humor on my last album. For instance, "Mrs. Jones' Cadillac" is about a rather bitter woman who drives a hearse and literally drags her past around with her:
"And every grievance that she's nursed
Rides behind her in the hearse
What you don't bury, you carry along
But the stench gets a little strong
Yeah, the stench gets a little strong"
Q. Is winning contests a great advantage to a musician or lyricist?
A. It has been for me. Recent contests have led to a licensing deal with Triple Scoop Music, the chance to work with a music supervisor for Sony Pictures, and the chance to perform at the West Coast Songwriters Annual Conference in front of industry guests and some of my songwriting heroes.
Q. "Like atoms smashed together, we'll explode into forever---and we'll shine." "Shine" and "This Might Get Loud" both offer message over story. "Shine," especially. Which moves you more to write, story or message?
It's really song-by-song for me. Of late, I've been focusing on songs that capture a particular emotion or message because that's what works in film. The scene already has dialogue & story, so the music is there strictly to enhance the mood. Story songs usually have a hard time getting placed in films except for the occasional montage scene or opening/closing credit.
Q. Want to give us a peek into your creative process?
I'm a real grinder. Usually something captures my interest--a bit of melody, guitar riff, story idea--and the first draft gets written in a great initial burst of energy. But then I revise and re-write until I feel everything is as good as I can make it. That may happen over weeks or years.
Getting feedback from my songwriting group is also invaluable. And a song isn't finished until I run it by my songwriting gurus. I've been fortunate to study with writers like Steve Seskin (Grammy-nominated, seven #1 hits) and Bonnie Hayes (top 40 hits, Berklee College Songwriting Dept Chair).
Q. What new work is coming out? Where is Kevin Beadles Band playing next?
I'm planning to release a new single/video this summer and another in the fall. The singles are already recorded but the videos are only at the pre-production stage.
And I'm working hard to get my new album ready for release in early 2017. Just mixed another song yesterday.
With all that going on, my band's been on hiatus but we've committed to playing a benefit concert at Berkeley's storied Freight & Salvage sometime in the fall so I'm sure we'll start booking shows again soon. My upright bass player is a 747 pilot and he keeps twisting my arm to do an international tour. He does a lot of Southeast Asian routes so maybe we'll pull a SpinalTap and make it big in Japan!
Playing with Planets
Astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought her chosen profession would bring danger into her life, but her outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of San Francisco’s recently-arrived cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The followers of the power hungry preacher will stop at nothing to quell the voices of those who would stand in his way and Julia’s at the top of his list. She’s willing to bet the charismatic Reverend is a Mercury-ruled individual, and she knows all too well that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.
The Zodiac Mysteries aren’t really about astrology – they’re all about crime – murderers and victims, but Julia Bonatti, my protagonist astrologer, eventually sorts out the players and spots the culprit using astrology. Now, you may not believe in astrology, you may poo-poo the whole idea of using it for character analysis, but Julia doesn’t and she’s invariably correct (if I do say so myself).
So, not only do I have to plot the crime(s) and write the book, but it’s impossible not to talk about natal charts if Julia’s busy solving crimes with her skills. I wanted her to be smart. I wanted her to really be able to figure out who is in danger and who committed the deed and accurately portray the signs and aspects of all involved.
In The Madness of Mercury, Julia speaks out against a power-hungry preacher and quickly becomes a target of his followers – the Army of the Prophet. Now, Mercury is the planet that indicates how we communicate, how we speak, how we write, how our thinking processes work. Hopefully, this planet works well in an individual’s life, but hard aspects can create stubbornness or unrealistic thinking or even obsession. You can see how someone with an afflicted Mercury might go off the beam. So, besides being mentioned in the title, Mercury had to be particularly important in this preacher’s chart, right? Julia’s convinced he’s a silver-tongued devil, just like the Greek god, but yet he’s charismatic and able to sway the crowd. So what should the preacher’s chart look like?
You guessed it, he’s a Gemini. He’s born on June 10, 1969, and with his broad shoulders and distinctive mane of hair, he’d have to have Leo on the Ascendant, handsome and charismatic. That birthday would give him a stellium of three planets – Pluto, Jupiter and Uranus in Mercury-ruled Virgo in his third house. Happily, that birthdate also gives him a conjunction between Mars and Neptune, the ability of manipulate and sway people with his words. Julia wonders, “Is he a con man, a sociopath or just insane?” He’d be the right age too – 47, old enough to know better.
Sorry, Geminis! I’m not just picking on your sign. Not at all. No zodiac sign will be safe in this series!
In another book, my murderer is a greedy, revengeful middle-aged man with a strong power drive. Well, the year is now 2016, so let’s backtrack. Let’s give him a sun sign that’s in hard aspect to a few of the very heavy planets – like Uranus, Saturn and Pluto. Rotating the movements of the planets, the last time those three lined up in that type of configuration was 1974 – Saturn and Pluto were conjoined in Virgo and Uranus was in opposition in Pisces. The Uranus connection would make him unpredictable and explosive. That works! That means my murderer has to be age 42 and a Virgo. Are all Virgos evil? Not at all, they’re generally well-behaved, mild-mannered and extremely discriminating, if not critical. Can a Virgo go bad? Oh, sure. Especially if they appear in one of my books.
Now I needed a chart for his victim – she’s a loose cannon, so let’s give her several planets in Sagittarius. Not that Sagittarius is a bad sign, not at all. Sags are optimistic, generous and usually leaping off into the next thing. It’s just that having SO many planets in that sign is a bit like being born without brakes. Did I find a good birthdate for her? Sure did, she has four planets -- Sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars – all clustered near a Sagittarian ascendant. Full of personality and a zest for life. But watch out, because Pluto is transiting her natal Mars and Ascendant. She’s in real danger!
You may think this is nitpicking or splitting hairs, but it’s important work. What if some astrologer stumbled upon the Zodiac Mysteries and became irate because the planets and stars weren’t accurate. That’s as bad as having a sloppy copy editor!
Who do you think I should I pick on next? What about those Scorpios? They have such a bad rep already, I could have a lot of fun with them!
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury is the first in the series. Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries set in Vermont from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.
Book title: The Madness of Mercury
Publish date: June 8, 2016
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Specific tags: mystery, San Francisco, astrology, North Beach, cults
About the book: The Zodiac Mysteries feature San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Julia sought answers and found solace in astrology after the death of her fiancé in a hit and run accident. Since then, she’s successfully built a clientele of the city’s movers and shakers.
In The Madness of Mercury, Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of a recently-arrived cult preacher who advocates love and compassion to those less fortunate. B ut the power-hungry preacher is waging war on sin and his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence those who would stand in his way. Julia is at the top of his list.
Social media links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/ (Connie di Marco Author)
Links for The Madness of Mercury:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1UapU0B
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1SBPKeq
Goodreads: http:// bit.ly/1ou4EXV