SWINGING FROM STARS: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE MUSIC OF TEA LEAF GREEN

Released: April, 2012 | Published by: Post Mortem Press

TEA LEAF GREEN is an award-winning band from San Francisco featuring Josh Clark, Trevor Garrod, Reed Mathis, Cochrane McMillan, and Scott Rager. Blending bits of rock, folk, jazz, and blues, the band has carved a name for themselves with their rich songwriting and outstanding live shows. To date, they have recorded seven studio albums, the most recent of which (Radio Tragedy!) garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its release in 2011.

In SWINGING FROM STARS, Joseph Williams takes fifteen career spanning songs from TEA LEAF GREEN and uniquely adapts them into a variety of genres, from Barnyard Romance and Western to Fantasy and Psychological Horror. Fans of the band and newcomers alike will enjoy Williams' interpretations and deliberate twists of these beloved songs.


SPECIAL FEATURES

COMMENTARY

I may be wrong about this, but the impression I’ve gotten from other authors is that there is usually a work in a writer’s backlog—or perhaps a chronological point—where he or she feels like they really started to hit their stride, and upon hearing that someone is reading this particular book they wrote a few years ago, will no longer become physically ill and bolt for the nearest bathroom. Although there are a few stories in SWINGING FROM STARS that I’d like another crack at tightening up, this is the first book that I don’t have any real regrets over when I look through it. It's not perfect. The book was written when I was 23 and I had never attempted adapting songs into stories, but that's also part of the reason I love it. In fact, "5000 Acres" is still one of my favorite shorts ("Cutting the Cord", which was the lead story in FEAR THE ABYSS from Post Mortem Press alongside writers like Harlan Ellison and Gary Braunbeck, is probably my favorite; you can read it for free on this website). I'm sure there are a lot of bands out there who reflect similarly on their early albums. They may be a little rough and would sound a hell of a lot better if the artists knew then what they know now, but the spirit that has informed their work from there on out is present in the material.

SFS was a labor of love from beginning to end. It's a tribute to one of my favorite bands, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to put it out there. I was excited to work on it, and I thought it was a pretty cool notch in the band's belt that someone was affected enough by their music to spend a year working on a tribute to their songwriting.

SFS was my first collection of music-inspired short stories. Right around the release of DM, I interviewed Tea Leaf Green’s singer/songwriter/pianist Trevor Garrod for Real Detroit Weekly and had the chance to meet up with the band at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit. I pitched the book idea to them and they were receptive, so I worked with their management for almost a year ironing out the details. I haven’t gotten any feedback from the band on whether they loved it or hated it or read it at all, and I don’t really expect to since adapting another artist’s work can be a sensitive subject even when they've agreed to it and had the opportunity to review the material, but the reception I’ve gotten from TLG fans has been positive.

I should take this opportunity to point out that Eric Beebe from Post Mortem Press is an absolute badass for letting me do these music collections, by the way. Most publishers would have balked at this concept, but Eric has been nothing but supportive of me while we’ve both suffered through lengthy negotiations with all the new and old management, licensors, record companies, lawyers, etc., that were necessary to bring these three volumes into the light of day. If you’re reading this, thanks a ton, Eric.

My favorite stories here are “5000 Acres”, “Carter Hotel”, and “Criminal Intent”…which seems strange now that I think about it, since they’re also the first three stories in the collection. I guess my theory was to hit ‘em hard out of the gate to hook readers in, since I sort of did the opposite for the sake of buildup in DM. Pinning down the order in which stories appear in a collection is kind of like writing a concert setlist, I imagine. You want to control the pacing and decide when the audience/reader is best served with a lighthearted tale versus a somber one, or an action-oriented slugfest versus a cerebral thriller, for example. It’s a fine line, and one that is difficult to navigate.

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