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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wanna Be Rock Star


Rock ‘n roll has ruled my world since fifth grade when my parents finally caved after years of my begging and agreed to get cable so I could have MTV. When I got a CD player for eighth grade graduation, the first disc I rushed out to buy was Metallica’s Black Album. Now I own practically 1,000 albums on CD, cassette, and vinyl. I can’t even count how many concerts I’ve been to because I spent most weekends during my junior and senior years of high school seeing punk shows at the infamous Fireside Bowl in Chicago (which I am pictured in front of). Back then, I dated drummers, singer/guitarists, drummers that wanted to be singer/guitarists…. And of course, deep down, I wanted to be a rock star.

I took guitar lessons, had multiple friends try to teach me, and learned a few simple punk songs from tablature. I’d promptly forget those songs because I’d stop practicing for a month to write poems or a short story instead. I have writer friends who are in bands, and, oh, how I envy them for being multi-talented. I’m just not. I realized this a few years ago after spending my tax return on a shiny new guitar and amp. I practiced without real progress for a few weeks and then turned full attention to my novel. My fingers just don’t work on the strings like they do with a pen or on the keys of my laptop. I decided I would have to become a literary rock star instead.

Emily Black, the main character in my first novel I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the talented, ultra-cool, punk rock songstress I wish I could be. And when I found out that MTV Books would be publishing it in July 2008, it felt like things had come full circle.

I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE is about the way music connects us. Punk rock is in Emily’s blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Emily grows up playing guitar and singing, determined to find the tune that will bring Louisa home. You’ll have to wait until next summer to find out more about Emily and Louisa, but you can see a sneak peek of chapter one here.

I truly believe that music can bind us like nothing else. My boyfriend and I met after discussing one of our favorite bands online. I will never forget the shirt my best friend was wearing when I met her (Anthrax, proving how totally bad-ass she was). What about you? How does music connect you to the people in your life?

13 comments:

jennifer echols said...

That is a cool story and possibly the coolest author photo I have ever seen.

The best connection I feel through music is with my family on holidays. Thursday we're driving up to see my 98-year-old granddad, and we'll spend most of Thanksgiving listening to him play the piano (he worked as a church organist until he was 95) while my dad plays the banjo. I am not kidding. They play really strange songs, too. I was a music major for my first couple of years of college, and whenever I visit I have to figure out the chords so my dad can play old-time banjo favorites such as the Whitney Houston version of "I Will Always Love You."

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks! My photographer friend Jessie Tierney totally rocks. And that is an amazing musical story right there. It sounds like you have truly fun holidays with your family- not that I don't- but that is eight million times cooler than watching football!

Authorness said...

Hey, Steph, my literary rock star friend! Congrats on Joey going up for presale on Amazon--yay!

My husband's a muso, so music's a huge part of our lives. He once tried to teach me to play the guitar. I even got calluses! But sadly, my entire repertoire consists of the opening chords to Tin Soldier by the Small Faces. I'm saving my hands for the computer keyboard.

:) Vanessa

Black Tulips & White Carnations said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Funny enough Jen, my guy and I am driving to Ohio for Christmas and we've already started negotiating the music. As in, "well, if you get to bring along MC5/Kick Out the Jams, then I'm bringing Sonic Youth/Goo. We always agree on bringing Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and James Brown b/c you need a little sex, a little soul and a little country to get by.

Caren

Katie said...

I'm so proud of you Steph! Was it really an Anthrax shirt? Was that in NorthGettoside or afterwards?

Music is a huge part of me, even though I can't find the time to keep up with collecting all that I want/need.
My favorite connection is between you and Rancid. Thanks for busting me out of boarding school just in time for the "Out come the wolves" tour.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

It's simple for me-- I drive, 90% of the time, so I choose the music. (I know, control freak, much? *g*)

But I'm not completely dictatorial—I allow for some rider participation and luckily, everyone in the family has fairly acceptable music tastes.

As far as me personally, well, it's no big secret to those who know me, how big music is in terms of my writing. It informs absolutely everything. Steph, did you make a soundtrack for Joey Ramone?

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Vanessa- Sounds like you are in the same boat as me then! Cool about hubby though!

Caren-Love your musical selections. And Sonic Youth/Goo will always remind me of you because you made a Kim Gordon comment about Emily and it made me so blissful!

Katie- Yes at North Riverside! Shoplifting in an Anthrax shirt, you are so frickin' cool. And I will always connect Rancid to you and my first Honda :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Barb- Yes I did. I made two in fact. One is on my website on the IWBYJR page and then I have one that is gonna be a prize for my street team members at the beginning of the year. Gotta have the soundtrack! And I don't drive anymore, but when I did music made the whole experience. I was the queen of the driving mix!

jocelyn said...

I really can't wait to read your book, it sounds fantastic. I don't have very discerning taste in music; I love almost everything!

Eryn said...

Music has always played a big part in my life. It connects to everything around me, and gets me thru everything. I have never had such a loyal friend as music. When I look back on times I had, good or bad, it was music that helps me with my memories. I love creating music and just listening to it. It has been my passion for a long time now. My dad plays guitar, my brother plays drums, I herd more Beatles songs growing up then nursery rhymes. Music is what ultimately inspires me fully, and puts me in my fullest move of creativity. It has brought so many people life with our similar interests. As I know for with out Hole, I would never have found my two best friends I have today.

Wendy Toliver said...

My husband and I listen to different styles of music. He likes country and I like alternative rock. When he's on a trip (he sometimes leaves for 6 weeks at a time), I find myself listening to country music because it makes me feel closer to him.

taltebrando said...

I love this post and the comments and it lets me have a chance to share my best story of music connecting me to someone in my life. I met my husband because I saw his band play and became obsessed with one of his songs. I wrote the lyrics of it into a book I was writing at the time—under my "adult" book penname—and then I had to ask him permission to use the lyrics eventually. So I emailed him. Then he read the book and loved it and then we started dating and here we are, married. All because of one song. It's crazy!

We're both big Ramones fans, by the way! Can't wait for the book.

-Tara