Heartbreak Symphony Songlist


Side A

Song

 

Artist

Happy Ending Mika
Time Pink Floyd
When You Were Young The Killers
She Talks to Angels Black Crowes
Raining in Baltimore Counting Crows
In Our Bedroom After the War Stars
Pompeii Bastille
Glycerine Bush
Jumper Third Eye Blind
 

Side B

Song

Grey Cell Green

 

 

Artist

Ned’s Atomic Dust Bin

Closer Ne-Yo
Bizarre Love Triangle New Order
Another Rainy Night (Without You) Queensryche
Little Lion Man Mumford and Sons
Rock On David Essex
Demons Imagine Dragons
I Miss You Blink-182
Panic Switch Silversun Pickups
Sex On Fire Kings of Leon
First Cold War Kids

The Making of “Heartbreak Symphony”


This project started out as what I thought would be a simple idea. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, a lot of us who were teenagers at the time would try to impress the people we had crushes on by making them mix tapes. For those of you who are too young to know what those are, they’re kind of like playlists that you had to make with cassettes (no I am not going to explain what those are, just Google it), and they had a limited run time.  You had to find just the right blend of songs to express what you wanted to say in the time you had to work with, and there was definitely an art to it.

I got to thinking about that old art form, and about how sometimes you would pick a song because of a certain line or phrase, and how in many ways you were crafting a poem with someone else’s words. That inspired me to do just that – to write a poem completely out of other people’s words, taken completely out of context but arranged in the order that made sense for my needs, to express my feelings. I also wanted to do it in such a way that it would make a good mix tape, because that was an essential element of the original art form as well – it couldn’t just be a random jumble of songs. Well, I suppose it could, but a poem can also just be a random jumble of words. That doesn’t make it good. The artistry is in the flow, putting them in a certain order so that they sound good and take you on an emotional journey. I felt that if I could manage to do both, to create a poem that worked while at the same time creating a mix tape that worked, I would have achieved a multimedia art form unlike anything I had done (or seen) before.

The first step was the same as any mix tape: picking the songs. I went through and gathered up a list of over 60 songs by artists ranging from the Eagles to Limp Bizkit, paying particular attention to songs that had lyrics that grabbed me. They didn’t have to be anything in particular so long as it was something unique. From there I compiled all the lyrics of the songs with only two rules in mind: first, I had to use a given line complete as written in the song, and second I couldn’t use any line that contained the actual title of the song (I felt that would be cheating). At this point I started narrowing down my list fairly quickly, as I found many of the songs on my list either weren’t as compelling as I originally thought, or else they didn’t have lines I could use. I also found the general outline of the poem already beginning to form, which may have been due to the songs I selected. Whether it is due to my own particular taste in music or perhaps just the nature of pop music itself, I found that most of the songs I was finding quality lyrics in tended toward the melancholier end of the spectrum. (Personally, I think it’s more the latter – the first person who can find any poetic value in “Call Me Maybe” wins a gold star.)

Crafting the poem itself was a bit more of a challenge. It was easy to pick out individual lines I found compelling – too easy, in fact. As the goal was to make a mix tape, I couldn’t use any given song and (preferably) any given artist more than once, and I had a time limit as well. I had to consider the run time of each song I used as part of the poem, and although I have always been fond of the 90 minute cassettes, apparently I am also fond of songs with long run times. Sometimes I wish more artists heeded the mocking advice of Billy Joel from “The Entertainer” and “cut it down to 3:05”.  But I digress. As I went through and wrote the poem, I quickly realized I was piling up a large number of songs and likely would run out of time, so I went back and started adding in the length of each track next to its complementary line in the poem. As I did I saw that I would run out of space before the end of the second stanza, so I made the decision to cut that stanza entirely, which to be honest was not particularly strong anyway.

In this way, the constraint of the time limit turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It forced me to keep the poem tighter than it otherwise would have been and cut weaker material that I might have left in. It also provided me with the artistic guidance to break the poem into two stanzas which equate to the two sides of the cassette. While I believe both the poem and the playlist work very well as a comprehensive whole (and both are meant to be enjoyed that way), there is also a certain completeness to each component part, whether it be the individual stanzas or Side A/Side B of the mix tape.

I hope you enjoy it. Come back tomorrow for a complete playlist so you can enjoy the mix tape for yourself, and feel free to leave any guesses in the comments below.


Insert Witty Comment Here


Nothing much to say, just figured radio silence going on too long might make some folks uncomfortable. I’ve been swamped by work (it’s the most wonderful time of the year) and personal stuff (more on that later perhaps, but nothing bad I promise). Hopefully there’ll be time to get back to blogging in the not-too-distant future (by some definition of “distant”).

That is all.

Move along.

Nothing to see here.

Why haven’t you left yet?

Are you waiting for something interesting to happen? Because seriously, I got nothing.

Okay, fine. May I recommend Galavant on ABC? It’s really good.


Veterans Day 2014


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One day a year is not enough; we need to be aware every day of those who have served and those who continue to serve.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Today we remember and honor all who serve, and MNSHO would like to pay special honor to the following American heroes:

*Robert Neal Bonsall, Sr., Technical Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

*Henry John Peterson, Private First Class, United States Army

*Robert Neal Bonsall, Jr., Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force

June Ellen Bonsall, Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force (ret.)

Harold Ray Darnell, Senior Master Sergeant, United States Air Force (ret.)

*The Unknown Soldier

*Though no longer with us, these heroes remain in our hearts.


Cleaning Out the Cobwebs


Hello? Anybody here?

Boy, it sure has been quiet lately, huh? Just gonna clean up some of the dust and cobwebs. Really need to talk to the maid about that.

So, I guess you’re wondering where I’ve been. Well, I could tell you I’ve been working on my book. (Which you should totally buy, ’cause I’m not gonna stop pitching it ’til you do.) Which would be true for a couple months, but not for most of the time I’ve been gone. I also went to Barcelona (as in Spain), but that was only for a week or so, and even getting ready for that doesn’t account for more than a week or so.

The truth is, blogging is a job. I started out doing it for fun, and I got some early success. I got picked up by WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page a few times, and it went to my head. I thought I could just keep churning out the same random thoughts and silly jokes and I would be world-famous in no time.

The only part that was true was “no”.

Like I said, blogging is a job, at least if you want to be successful at it and make it big. I have a couple friends over at Heels First who have started getting some success on their blog. Here’s the secret to their “overnight” success: they’ve been working their asses off for years. Literally, years. I’ve seen them doing it. They work every day, doing everything they can. They’re out there pounding the pavement, doing social media, checking the stats, writing posts, staying on top of the trends, and a hundred other things I can’t even remember. Oh, and they have day jobs too. It’s exhausting just to watch. They earned every bit of it, and more.

Me? I don’t want that. The success, sure, I’d take it if you gave it to me. But nobody’s out there handing out success to every would-be world famous blogger/writer/action-movie star. (I warned you, I’m going to keep pitching it until you buy it.) It’s a hustle, and I was looking for a hobby. That’s why I quit World of Warcraft and started blogging in the first place; it had stopped being a fun hobby and started becoming a job. When blogging became a job, I quit. Simple as that.

So why am I back? Well, aside from the chance to plug my awesome new book (really, I was dead serious about that, buy it or I won’t stop), I finally got tired of playing video games and watching TV and realized that I actually miss writing. I miss gracing you all with my wit and charm, my deep insights and personal foibles, my pet peeves and my deepest delights. In short, I miss sharing My Not So Humble Opinion. (Look, they’re coming closer together now.)

So does this mean you can expect more? (Posts, not plugs. I’m done with those, I promise.) Yes, but sparingly. I’m going to go easy on myself, and do it right this time. I’m going to write when I feel like it, and some of that time is going to be spent polishing my next book. (See? No plug… yet.) I’ve had plenty of time to think, which means I’ve got plenty to say.

Welcome back, folks. The ride is just about to begin.


The Birth of Greatness


She was my first best friend.

She was my first arch-nemesis.

She was the first girl I ever loved.

She nursed me through my first heartbreak.

She laughed at my first joke, and rolled her eyes at the next 2,674,362.

She has the voice of an angel, and sings as beauty personified.

Her heart is big enough to love anyone, even a scoundrel like me.

She has inspired me, confounded me, infuriated me, counseled me, consoled me, and stood beside me my entire life.

Happy birthday to My Not So Humble Sister.


Veterans Day 2013


Today we remember and honor all who serve, and MNSHO would like to pay special honor to the following American heroes:

*Robert Neal Bonsall, Sr., Technical Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

*Henry John Peterson, Private First Class, United States Army

*Robert Neal Bonsall, Jr., Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force

June Ellen Bonsall, Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force (ret.)

Harold Ray Darnell, Senior Master Sergeant, United States Air Force (ret.)

*The Unknown Soldier

*Though no longer with us, these heroes remain in our hearts.