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Elaine Reed: Ear Worms
Monday, September 11th, 2017

There is something about the piano in The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” that catches my ear. Likewise, the trumpet in Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” gets my attention every time. (Yes, Davis is a legendary trumpeter, but from all of his music, from all of jazz, that particular performance resonates for me.) I can’t explain what it is about these pieces of music that takes up space in my brain, but I am glad they do.

Music has been a tremendous part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have a personal soundtrack: songs that remind me of seminal moments, important people and my own growth.  It inspires me and motivates me. A simple song selection can help me move through deep emotions, or get through twenty minutes on the treadmill. The right beat can speed up my productivity or help me fall asleep.

As a reader, I love books that have a playlist. The songs give me a deeper connection to the characters. The music makes their struggles and victories hold that much more resonance. That may be why I chose to write about musicians in my first novel. In fact, creating the playlist was as much fun as writing their story and when I stumble upon those songs on the radio or TV, I get a moment to visit with some of my favorite people. It’s one of the many gifts of music.

Excerpt from The Girl U Want

“You’re making D.J.s famous?” Brad asked.

“You wanna be famous?” Sue tilted her head, holding his gaze. “I’ll make you famous.”

She caught him off guard. It took Brad a few seconds to put together a reply. “Man! There was some heat in that!” He took a swig of beer. “I’m already famous.”

“You’re not famous. You’re the most popular barfly in Detroit. You have a decent following in Michigan, but get away from the Great Lakes and you’re just another guy with a guitar.”

“This woman is mean, Tom.”

“Sue is painfully honest,” Tom clarified.

“And she knows her shit,” Axel added. “She researched tonight’s bands weeks ago. She knew exactly how to promote you before your names were even on the marquee. It’s too bad this isn’t Baltimore or Philly. Sue’s twenty-five and she’s already sent three D.J.s to top tier markets. She could run radio if she wanted to.”

“You just want to be famous. I—” She pointed at herself with both hands “—can make you the disdain of parents the world over.”

He didn’t even try to stop the grin. Instead, Brad pushed Axel out of the way so he could put an arm around Sue. “Come work with us. I don’t want to be famous. I want to be super famous. I want to be the enemy of every father, and more than a few husbands. Tell me how you’ll do it.”

About Elaine Reed

In between organizing her music collection and searching for the ultimate chocolate and tequila pairing, Elaine writes about people with big ambitions and bigger senses of humor.  She lives in South Carolina.