Spencer Ellsworth has been writing since he learned how. For inspiration, he’s worked in special education, wilderness survival, publishing, and now as an administrator and teacher at a small tribal college in the Lummi Nation outside Bellingham, Washington. His work has been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and many others. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and three children. You can read his stuff and hear his band at spencerellsworth.com
Tina Connolly’s next book, Seriously Wicked, comes out May 5th from Tor Teen. She is also the author of the Nebula-nominated Ironskin trilogy and a whole bunch of short stories. She played the french horn in regular band, the mellophone in marching band, and anything fast and loud with a lot of wrong notes on the piano. She has no clue how to play guitar and is seriously thankful for Spencer and his dead-on interpretation of boy-band boy Devon. You can find her at tinaconnolly.com and on Twitter at @tinaconnolly.
You ask me, (and you did), the true test of a writer is how they portray another art form in words. I spent all of The Stand trying to figure out the chords to “Baby, Can You Dig Your Man.” The best parts= of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay was the extended description of the Escapist’s haymaker to Hitler’s jaw. My favorite George R.R. Martin novel, The Armageddon Rag, features a litany of songs by a Zeppelin-esque group called the Nazgûl. The crashing roar of guitar, drums, and bass, and the howl of Patrick “Hobbit” Hobbins surrounds every passage, even though George had no basic template for any of the songs—he plays little guitar and didn’t even write chords for the book.
(Perhaps one day a Zep-esque band like Tango Alpha Tango will be recruited for an adaptation. Go listen to them.)
When my friend Tina Connolly asked me to beta-read her wonderfully quirky, fun novel Seriously Wicked, I of course wanted to hear the song “Lion Tamer.” The lead character’s crush sings it to our heroine in between bouts of demon possession, but the lyrics spoke to me of a little bit of demonic lust anyway, revealing that our good-boy hero had bad boy in him despite his protestations.
First I took my hat off to Tina for portraying a cool song in her prose. Tina and I tossed around the idea of recording a version of the song. She sent me a recording of her proposed melody, and a couple of chords crystallized in my head—a dirty little riff on E minor and F7, unapologetically mean and growly because, hey, lions. And demons.
(Demons speak in minor chords. Even major demons use minor chords.)
Drums, keys, bass, guitar, and mastering later, and you have what you hear before you here.
I feel a bit like Tenacious D in “Tribute.” No matter how good this version of “Lion Tamer” is, it might not quite live up to what you hear in your head when you read the book, in the same way that The Armageddon Rag might never be the same if a band actually gets recruited to make the songs.
So please listen and enjoy, Dear Reader, but perhaps once you’ve read Tina’s book you could post your own incarnations of “Lion Tamer” to the wide Internet, and alert myself and Tina on our websites. After all, we all hear music in our heads, but sometimes it doesn’t compare to the words.