So you can read my books

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Mankind shares a soundtrack. Science assures us of that. Experts in all fields are singing the same tune.
Anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, neurosurgeons, and psychologists have all come to the same conclusion while taking different paths to reach it. They believe the "musical" area in the brain created human nature.
Music is as universal as language. It predates agriculture. Some scientists believe it even existed before language, its melodies promoting the cognitive devolopment necessary for speech. Americans spend more money on music than they do on prescription drugs or sex. The average American spends more than five hours a day listening to it. Obviously, it is important to us.

It is important to FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE as well. And with a title like that that, it should come as no surprise. It is important to the lead character, Samuel McCord, too. It is no coincidence that he owns a jazz club. A jazz club he named after his wife, Meilori. Music to him has become a remembrance of shadows, an echo of times spent with friends, and a glimpse into a time when he was loved.

He is a monster who mourns the loss of his humanity. So much so that he nutures it in the souls of those who pass his club, lost and hungry. McCord sees life in terms of music. When he first views the flooded streets of New Orleans, he hears Bette Midler singing, "I think It's Going To Rain Today," especially the refrain "human kindness is overflowing."

He championed the tragic jazz legend, Billie Holiday. His wife's favorite song was Billie's "You Go To My Head." He often hears it throughout the novel. And when he is facing his death before overwhelming odds, he once again hears that song before murmuring the one name he promised himself would be the last on his lips : "Meilori."

A sample of how music plays a part in FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE :

Chapter Twelve

“Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans,
virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively
- FEMA chief, Michael Brown
(September 1, 2005)

In the dark.

Story of most of my life.

As I sat in the shadows of my club, I listened to the music coming from the speakers on the ceiling. It was a recording of Meilori playing my favorite piano sonata, Quasi Una Fantasia. Most knew it as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. In 1832 music critic Ludwig Rellstab had first called it that, comparing it to moonlight shining down upon the night-shrouded Lake Lucerne.

I had been in Weimar, Germany at the time, trying to keep the irate spirit of the real Faust from killing Goethe. Like so many times in the past, I had failed. But then the man had been 82 years old and not cursed with my blood disorder.

Meilori's lovely playing intruded into my brooding. The Moonlight Sonata was never more haunting than when she played it. Beethovan had dedicated the sonata to his seventeen year old pupil, Countess Giulietta Guiccciardi. He had loved her. He had lost her. Not a new story. It repeated itself all too often.

Long ago my bloodbrother, Elu, had told me that there were no truths, only stories. Like with everyone else close to me, Elu had passed on. But his words had stayed with me.

I studied on them in the dark of my night club, Meilori's. It was all I had left of my wife. She had passed on, too. In a way. But not before she had slapped my face. The fact of it had hurt more than the force of it. Meilori had slapped me. Me. I could still almost feel it on my cheek. I had taken her love for granted and had paid a terrible price.

That had been seven years ago to the day. September 11th. It didn't mean to me what it now meant to most people. And yet, in a way it did. My whole world had changed that day, too.

Now, a lot of other people's lives had been shattered again. Not by terrorists. Not by a deserting wife. But by a hurricane. Katrina.

I studied the night club that had seemed so alive when Meilori walked its rich, red carpets. Poor sad, ravaged beauty now. My club had sure seen better days. Housing survivors and rescue workers had pretty much made a shambles of her retro-Victorian elegance. But to my eyes she still seemed a beauty. But I was a romantic. Hard to believe after all I had seen, but I was a slow learner.

I looked around, not seeing the torn curtains, stained tablecloths, and overturned tables, but rather seeing ghosts of the past chatting and plotting long-dead schemes. Worse, in the dark quiet that shivered like a dying breath, I saw her. Meilori Shinseen, the other half of my heart. The half that had ripped itself away from what was left of mine.

I thought about Meilori. She had been one of those haunted-eyed women you attached your own hidden fears and silent sorrows to. And her face. Lord, her face. Aside from being beautiful, which it had been ... so much so that the whole world seemed to center around it when I had looked at her. But there was more. Besides being hauntingly beautiful, it had been a good face. And I'd not seen many beautiful faces that were.

There were whispers in her jade eyes of tragedy and of pain, but no self-pity. Instead her past seemed to have given birth to a wry understanding, laced with echoes of bitter humor. There were disturbing depths of sadness in her eyes. Depths which whispered of age more ancient than the Aztecs, more haunted that even my past. They had both called and warned at the same time. I had lost myself in their green depths where the monsters swam, the monsters which drive us or haunt us or both. We had both done terrible things in our past, but in each other's arms we had found some small measure of peace. Until ....

I shivered at the memory of that day seven years ago.

I had lived a life of fire, had died a death of ice. But it was only until I met Meilori that I had realized before her I had not lived at all.

What had Elu whispered as he lay fading away in my arms those long years ago? "What is life but a flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in winter, the cloud shadow that races across the tall grass to lose itself in the setting sun."


I'm listening right now to "You Go To My Head." But it isn't being sung by Billie Holiday but by the Canadian Diana Krall. Think Ali Larter playing the piano with a sexy, haunting voice. You might want to check out her website if only to see her beauty.

She's just been nominated for three Juno awards. And she is going to tour New Zealand. Sigh. One day I'll get to go there myself.

If you want to watch and hear her sing, "You Go To My Head," here it is :

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