My latest poetry collection, BODY PARTS, is available in digital versions on Amazon and Smashwords and as an Amazon paperback, continues an experiment explored in my previous poetry book, THE HOLLYWOOD HOMELESS.
In addition to my novels, short stories and poetry, I have also written song lyrics since my mid-teens. A couple of years ago, I came up with the idea to turn my lyrics into poetry and to put them out as a series of poetry collections. This is the second volume of poems based on my lyrics and is my fourth poetry collection overall.
As with THE HOLLYWOOD HOMELESS, I mostly maintained the original content in converting my lyrics into poetic form. The rhymes and verses were nearly kept the same way as I had written them, but the lyrics are laid out in stanzas and choruses and verses are not spelled out. I also didn’t try to turn these poems into free-form poems or follow the rules of rhyming poetry. My main objective is to share the content as honestly and straightforward as I could.
However, unlike THE HOLLYWOOD HOMELESS, this is not a compilation of my top lyrics. The lyrics and poems that are featured in BODY PARTS were written in the late 1990s and early 2000s after I began writing again in early 1998 following a long hiatus. In fact, the poem FREEWAY HEART, written in 1998, was the first set of lyrics I had created since the early 1980s. Like all of the lyrics and poems in this collection, I believe they hold up well all these years later and remain timely commentary on our current political situation. I have discovered this when sharing a lot of these lyrics as tweets on Twitter.
Here’s some background on the inspiration of my lyric-based poetry collections. I loved music and songwriting for as long as I could remember. However, hearing Bob Dylan’s album HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED at the age 18 changed my life. That level of storytelling, and the wild, powerful descriptions as I found in novels, films and poetry, but in song form, fascinated me. Also having a similar impact and influence on me at this time and later were Bruce Springsteen’s BORN TO RUN, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, and the RIVER; the late Tom Petty’s DAMN THE TORPEDOS, HARD PROMISES, LONG AFTER DARK; The Band’s first two records; John Lennon’s solo works and work with the Beatles; Paul Simon’s early solo records; Curtis Mayfield’s SUPERFLY; Elvis Costello’s MY AIM IS TRUE, THIS YEAR’S MODEL, ARMED FORCES, GET HAPPY, TRUST, IMPERIAL BEDROOM; Sly Stone’s THERE’S A RIOT GOING ON; Marvin Gaye’s WHAT’S GOING ON, SEXUAL HEALING; Joni Mitchell’s early records; Patti Smith’s HORSES and EASTER; Neil Young’s RUST NEVER SLEEPS and TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT; the Clash’s debut record, GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE, LONDON CALLING and SANDINISTA; the Pretenders early albums; X’s LOS ANGELES and WILD GIFT; Public Enemy’s IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK and FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET, among many others. There are really are too many to mention. Music continues to be a huge influence on me. It is more than an obsession.
My lyric writing is different from my poetry. My lyrics explore more storytelling techniques, focusing on tales of the down and out, disenfranchised, people on the edge and left out of society’s prosperity. For them, the American dream and the promise of prosperity is a sad illusion and a crushing lie. In these lyrics, you’ll discover stories about society’s obsession with looks and fame in the pursuit of elusive happiness (BODY PARTS, CELEBRITY DISEASE, MYSTERY FOOL); government oppression and the true violence of silence (A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, UNMARKED GRAVES, WHEN BULLETS FALL LIKE RAIN, NO SUNSHINE HERE, LET’S DO THE CRAWL, LET IT SLIDE, FREEDOM LIE); an innocent man on death row seeking a last-minute reprieve (DEATH ROW DREAMS); a gambler stranded in Sin City (LAS VEGAS BLUES); government power hidden in the shadows (MISERY, INC, SHADOW GOVERNMENT); souls forgotten on our city streets (WALKING WOUNDED, DEAD EYES, OBLITERATED); those left behind by the economy (WISHFUL THINKING, NO SECOND CHANCES, NO TRACE, MOONLIGHT OVER MISERY, LIVING IN A WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, BOTTOM-LINE DISEASE, SOUL OUT ON LOAN, I AM A GHOST HAUNTING MY LIFE); love gone wrong (CRIMES OF NO PASSION, OUR POINT OF NO RETURN, LOVE TROUBLE, SENDING YOUR BITTER REGARDS, FREEWAY HEART, STRANGERS STILL, A DIVIDE-AND-CONQUER LOVE AFFAIR, YOUR KIND OF PASSION, BREAKUP DAY); infidelity, heartbreak, and the confusion of modern love (FORBIDDEN LOVE, OH, ANNA, WE’RE NOT FRIENDS, WE’RE NOT LOVERS, SHREDDED SOULS AND JADED HEARTS, BORED AGAIN); those grappling with aftermath of violence and societal indifference (I DON’T KNOW, SLEEPING RAGE, WE’RE NOT BLAMELESS, VICTIMS OF RAGE); spin doctors (A LIAR’S LIAR, SPIN THIS, KING OF SLICK); those turning to alcohol to hide their loneliness (BARROOM EYES, YOUR DRUNKEN RAGES); seedy politicians and powerbrokers (LOWLIFE, YOU GIVE ME THE CREEPS; THE REAL FREAKS, POSEUR), a mob boss (GANGSTER STAR); faded dreams of youth (GROWING COLD, THINGS WE THREW AWAY, LETTING GO, DON’T BLAME YOU ANYMORE, A STRANGER IN MY SKIN); police brutality and murder (WHO CAN YOU TRUST? SHOT IN THE BACK); and Hollywood illusions and lost dreams (HOLLYWOOD LIES, DREAM-BUSTED, BITTER SMILE, SUNBURNED, DREAMLESS, DREAM-SHY, AN EMPTINESS I CAN’T FILL, THE BIG KISS-OFF, FADE-AWAY TIME, HOW MANY MORE HEARTBEATS?, DRIFTING).
These 101 poems resume my poetic journey into the dark side of love, loneliness, Hollywood dreams, life in Southern California, economic inequity, death, and life’s mysteries and hard-fought victories. I never try to sugarcoat life in Los Angeles, which is both beautiful but heartbreaking at the same time. You can read these as poems, but don’t forget these are lyrics as well. My book’s subtitle, “Lyrical poetry or poetic lyrics for a band to be named later, Vol. 2”, is partly tongue-in-cheek, but also truthful. If any singers or musicians out there are truly serious about collaborating to transform these lyrics into songs, I would, of course, welcome the opportunity.
The team at Word to Kindle created another impressive cover as well for my digital and paperback version that reflects my title and also my poems’ content. They also created the cover for my previous science fiction novel ROBOT TROUBLES.
This is the second of many of my lyrics/poetry collections to come, as I have written more than 1,000 songs through the years. I can’t wait to share them all.
You can check out all my novels and poetry collections on my Amazon authors page.
Look for another poetry collection based on my lyrics next year, and possibly another poetry collection about Donald Trump’s presidency, after the upcoming launch of my short story collection in early 2019.
Stay tuned as always. I do love the possibilities of indie publishing.