Workshop Episode 56 (Guest Host: John Anealio)

The Roundtable Podcast, Workshop Episode 56, with John Anealio and Patrick TonerJohn Anealio – renowned musician, composer, and songwriter of geek anthems covered in his albums “Laser Zombie Robot Love” and “Sci-Fi Songs” AND co-host at the fabulous Functional Nerds Podcast – returns to the Big Chair and just in the nick of time! Today, we make Roundtable history as we workshop a SONG! Patrick Toner, a man of diverse and distinguished talents, comes to the Roundtable with a fabulous idea for a song and you know us… we just can’t say no. Thank goodness we have John on hand to help us explore these uncharted waters and, while there’s a fair amount of splashing and flailing about on our part, I still think we managed some Literary Gold! (and by all means continue the fun and check out John’s Showcase Episode!)

PROMO: The Mighty Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine

Workshop Episode 56 (Guest Host: John Anealio)

Produced by Ben Delano

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

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The John Anealio Goodness includes…



Patrick’s awesomeness includes…

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Comments (3)

Essential reading for Patrick:

“By his Bootstraps” by Robert Heinlein.

That’s where my mind went, listening to this song idea.

This song idea put the lyrics for a chorus, “Every time I see me, I’m traveling back through time again,” in my head.

It also spurred a number of really cool story ideas but alas my plate is already full of writing projects and for now I will restrain myself from falling into the rabbit hole. 🙂

First off let me mention I am a Filker. For those who don’t know the term, Filkers are a community of people who enjoy, create, or perform fannish music. There are currently about 10 conventions in different parts of the world that focus on Filk music. So I was very excited by this episode. I am not a songwriter myself, but a lot of my friends are, and I’ve been known to sing a song or two at cons.

That being said I am going to start with the story parts, before I talk about song structure.

First I’m going to talk about time travel.
Patrick Toner has chosen a form of time travel, where the character can go back in history, but he can’t change history. The fact that he sees himself fighting on top of the bus in the first verse, means that his going back in time is preordained. In the later verses his first self does all the same things he did before. While he can’t change what he does, he can see what he does from a different perspective (both literally and figuratively).

Next issue is the one that Dave kept focusing on, the protagonist’s motivation. The protagonist has to want something, and want it bad enough to go back in time after it. It could be a woman, it could be something else, but there has to be something. Let’s refer to whatever he wants as “The McGuffin”.

Now let’s talk about music. You have set yourself a big task with a complex story. If you manage it, it will be epic. If it is an epic song, then I think you justify it being longer. Like six and a half minutes long. That is about the length of “Hotel California” or “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

In structure I am thinking
2 verses,
2 verses,
2 verses,

First verse; he is headed to the office so focused on the thought of the mcguffin he almost doesn’t two people fighting on top of a bus

Second verse; he gets to the office too late, someone else got to the mcguffin first now it is gone. The HVAC system is making noises everything sucks

Chorus; hints of a time machine

Third verse; he rushes out of the house and catches the bus, he ends up fighting a mysterious stranger but still manages to get to work early

Fourth verse; he gets the mcguffin before his first self gets to work, but discovers now that he has it that the mcguffin isn’t what he though it was everything sucks

Chorus; hints of a time machine

Fifth verse; he caches up with himself on the bus, and tries to stop his second self, but fails. Realizes that he can’t actually change the past.

Sixth verse; comes up with a clever plan to make things better involving crawling through the air ducts to avoid both his first self and his second self.

Final Chorus

The “moral” would be a kind of a “be careful what you wish for” thing.

The phrase I think would be cool if you could make it work is:
“If I knew then what I know now”

Oh and as it turns out this song is in both first person and third person at the same time. Because when he sees the fight on top of the bus he is both the first person watching the fight as well as the third person fighting.

The one advantage that you have is that because you are repeating “scenes” in different verses, you don’t have to describe the whole scene in any one verse, you can mention different details in each verse which add up to the whole scene.

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