A very long serial novel running from 1974 to 1987, plus sequel and prequel.
Rehearsal is my baby, my writing baby. It's what turned me into a novelist. It's been therapy and education and fun and hair-pulling and brain-testing. It's my "work of the heart" (although all of my books truly matter to me).|
I started this story way back in my teen years, inspired by an actual band and somewhat by actual events of that band. It is NOT that band and the characters are not meant to be any of the inspirational band members. They are purely my creation.
Four of the books out of what will be a set of seven, plus a sequel and a prequel, have been released, beginning in 2006, but they're being pulled off the "shelves" for a revamp.
Here, I will be posting research, music used, original lyrics, excerpts, character interviews, and other Rehearsal related items while I work on getting it together and ready for a new shebang release sometime in the future.
On the Wings of A Dream (1983), Written and Performed by John Denver
A pondering about life and death and about how short a time we get to be here, this one echoes the Rehearsal theme/tagline: "It's About The Journey."
They whys of life are big and usually unanswered, but the path, the ride, is filled with wonderful things along with not-so-wonderful things. It's a roller coaster, a guessing game, an endurance test, and a gamble. As one of my characters eventually says: "There's no such thing as safe. It's all a risk. You just have to try to make the rewards along the way worth it." (May be edited somewhat before publication.)
John Denver was part of the first conversation Duncan has with Susie and his new band mates, the night he arrives in Lakewood, Massachusetts. Stu, the keyboardist, makes fun of Denver and Susie jumps in to say she likes his music. In return, Stu asks "What do you know? You're a girl." Of course she fires back at him, full of fire about what she knows. If you read the 1982 entry, you'll realize this question comes back around full circle when she's asking herself the same.
But that's life. We know what we know. Then we think we know what we know. And then... we realize we don't really know; it's all just a guessing game where we choose what we think is the best option at the time. In the meantime, it's quite a ride.
This is entry #10 for
[This final entry for the contest is not the final entry in this through-they-years video series, since Rehearsal runs through 1987. I'll keep going after the contest to fill it out.]
Bridge Over Troubled Water (1982: live concert album version), Written by Paul Simon, Performed by Simon & Garfunkel at The Concert for the Park, NY (live)
"When you're weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all..."
Susie loves "easy listening" music along with her rock. Simon & Garfunkel are on that list. In later years of the saga, she finds herself lost and floundering, unsure about everything she's done, every choice she's made over the years. Other than taking care of her kids, she shuts down for some time, spending a lot of time just sitting and staring out the window while her friends try everything to help.
Her anchor, even though she's somewhat deserted him, remains tied to her enough to keep her afloat and together, even from fathoms away.
He finds his own anchor, while floundering trying to help her and feeling like he's not getting anywhere, in his group of band mates, his friends. Raucous is far more than a band by this point. They are family. Close-knit family. Unbreakable.
Entry #9 for
Take It Easy On Me (1981) Written by Graham Goble, Performed by Little River band
Sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes you have to cut your losses because you know it's better for the long run, but you still have to nurse a bruised heart until it starts to beat normally again.
Loss is a prevalent theme throughout Rehearsal. All of the main characters have to deal with it in different ways. Duncan had a very rocky relationship with the man who raised him and left his mother and siblings he loved to get away from him. Evan's father left the family during his young teen years, and he lost his younger brother during his late teen years. Susie lost her mother when she was very young, and her baby sister. The three of them understand the gapes in their friends' lives well. Those gapes bring them together while they help each other mend and deal with the fallout.
And then ... tragedy. Regrouping is a major obstacle when you're still recovering...
This is entry #8 for
Song For You (1980) Written by Peter Cetera, Performed by Chicago
"I'm a man that you can count on..."
This is one of Chicago's simplest songs, mainly acoustic guitar and Cetera's voice with a bit of backing. No muss, no fuss, just a quick emotional expression song, not too deep, but real.
Chicago also plays a major role throughout Rehearsal, with a few of their songs having special meaning to the main characters. Their music, in general, is complex and varied, with far more instruments and band members than normal. It's often orchestral with a large sound. It's much like the Rehearsal saga itself: large, varied, with lots of parts, subplots, a ton of characters...
And yet this song is reminiscent of Evan. He's fairly simple and straight-forward. He is what he is. Non-flamboyant. Home-town boy. Business degree. And he's steadfastly loyal, possibly to a fault. Susie often sat and listened to his sitting and playing his acoustic guitar while they were growing up together, and when she catches him doing it still, all these years later, it catches her off-guard and pulls her in, like a reminder of who he is beyond everything else. Her rock and anchor through a sometimes ridiculously stormy sea.
This is entry #7 for
I Want To Make You Smile (1979) Written by Bill Medley, Performed by Kenny Rogers
"If it's not too late... I want to stop the world and make you smile..."
Honestly, one of the prettiest songs ever written, especially with the great Kenny Rogers singing it. (Rest in peace, Kenny.)
Too often, people who have been together forever in any kind of relationship tend to start taking it for granted. They assume the other knows how they feel and let things slide, maybe forget that nurturing is a big part of a good relationship, and maybe, just maybe, that significant other isn't so sure anymore how you feel. Maybe you've gotten bored with him/her and have other, newer interests that have started to matter more. Maybe you've both changed so much through your mutual growing that the need isn't really still there. Maybe you've just shrugged it off as too comfortable, too familiar.
This becomes an issue in the later Rehearsal books. More than one character needs a reminder that says, "Hey, I'm still here for a reason and I need you to remember who I was to you and I need you to really see who I am now, and let me know if who I am still matters to you."
Stop everything. Pay attention. Let me know you see me.
This is entry #6 for
Anytime (1978) Written by Robert Fleischman, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Roger Silver and Ross Valory; Performed by Journey
Journey figures heavily into Rehearsal over the years, since Susie adopts a few Journey songs as special to her.
Anytime has several writers, mostly band members, and it showcases the beautiful harmonies that help Journey stand out. Both facts are reminiscent of the way Raucous shares songwriting duties more as time passes, as well as sharing lead singing duties and solos to help each member stand out. They're very much in it as a team and want each other to look as good as possible. They're also big on close harmonies, which is pointed out by several reviewers.
The song is also a metaphor for the way Susie always makes her time and energy available to the band when they need her, even at her own expense. The repetition of "anytime that you want me, anytime that you need me" echoes how often she says, "What do you need?" and "How can I help?"
This is entry #5 for
It's A Game (1977) Written by Chris Adams, Performed by the Bay City Rollers
Susie is very straight-forward and honest, and while helping "her band," as she calls Raucous, she finds herself very uncomfortable having to manipulate the image and hide the truth in order to play the game that is the big world of music.
The Bay City Rollers also happen to be the inspiration for the series, way back when. Yes, I was a huge fan. I still am. Their music was fun at first, turned deep and introspective, and they were much better musicians than the critics gave them credit for.
Anyway, after creating the characters fully through my teen years and early twenties after they disappeared from view (or at least from my view) and having much of the story written, I did happen to meet and talk with a couple of them. I can easily say that although many of the issues in the story are echoed from real life (as I think all good novels should), and although there are borrowed names and some coincidences, such as: in the story, Duncan's sister's name is Laura and he calls her Laurie, while, years after that had been written, unbeknownst to this author, the actual Duncan who takes over as lead singer in the late 70s marries a band follower named Laurie, the characters and actual musicians have very little in common. It is fiction. The characters are who they need to be for the story and nothing more. Only a couple of names were borrowed and a couple adapted, as a tribute.
It is, after all, just a game.
This is entry #4 for
Beth (1976) Written by Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Ezrin; Performed by KISS
Raucous, along with fighting personality issues, also has to fight their label on a regular basis. Axis wants them to retain their boy-next-door look and sound while Duncan spearheads the fight to move into the mid-Seventies with a harsher, more adult sound. With the money controlling the albums, they're forced into doing a lot of cover songs they feel are holding them back.
Susie joins the fight to let them move forward, mentioning other bands doing well with harder, more adult looks. One of the bands she mentions is KISS: "That's scary, really." Scary or not, she does become a KISS fan.
Beth is about a musician too busy with his career to spend much time with his girl and he's apologizing for it, but he knows it's not going to change. At one point, Stu sings part of it to his girlfriend, with unintended results.
Much of Rehearsal deals with the life of rock stars: the long, late hours, the traveling, the fans, girls throwing themselves at them, never knowing which are interested in them for them rather than only for the image ... and how those who try to be close to them deal with it, or don't.
This is entry #3 for
You're My Best Friend (1975), written by John Deacon, performed by Queen
Friendship is a major part of Rehearsal. When five guys with personalities big enough to be rock stars spend much of their time together over several years, there are bound to be issues. Every band has them. Raucous, my fictional band, has their share, particularly between lead singer Mike Kean and keyboardist/bassist/songwriter Stuart Lowe. They grew up in the same town on different sides of the street, so to speak. They learned music together. They have a deep respect for each other. But they also bicker constantly. Doug Lawrence, the drummer, also grew up with them and being calm and level-headed, he is well used to playing mediator between the two.
By the time Rehearsal starts, Evan and Mike have been roommates for a couple of years and also good friends.
Kate Montgomery, who grew up in PA with Evan and Susie, has been roommates with Susie for the past two years, and dating Mike almost that long. Her relationship with Evan is complicated and mostly hidden.
Susie and Evan are best friends hands down. They constantly look out for each other. They adore each other. They need each other. And yet, they're something between them neither really understands and can't get past. Duncan often gets caught between that. He deeply respects them both and tries to stay out of their squabbles while trying to help them understand each other a bit better than they do.
Duncan and Susie are very fast to understand each other and to build a strong friendship that becomes more.
You're My Best Friend from Queen's A Night At The Opera (1975), was written by their bass player John Deacon, to his wife. They managed to stay together through the turbulent years, and they're still together. Deacon learned the electric piano due to the fact that Freddy Mercury wouldn't play it and the song was written on it.
This song and its background serve a nice metaphor for the series as a whole, especially for Evan, the lead guitarist turned bass player after Duncan joins because Duncan only plays guitar and has no interest in any other instrument. As the series progresses, a lot of Raucous songs come from the band members writing to their mates.
This is the 2nd entry for
Please Be With Me, written by Charles Scott Boyer, performed by Eric Clapton
Rehearsal, the Series, begins in 1972 when two very different guitarists from very different backgrounds happen to meet in a dingy little bar in Greenville, Pennsylvania while one is playing with a "barely third rate" band and the other is hanging out with college buddies on a date that's barely a date.
That's only the prologue. The actual story begins in 1974 when Duncan O'Neil, a Scottish guitarist hiding from authorities by jumping to different states, playing with whatever band he can find and working whatever cash jobs come his way, accepts an invitation to visit from the "college kid" he met at Sam's two years before. At the end of the rope, he decides he has nothing to lose.
Evan Scott, now working as the manager of a gym, is entrenched in a band with three friends from New Hampshire now living in Massachusetts. His life-long friend Susie Brooks has moved with him from Eastern Pennsylvania where they grew up together, and lives across the hall in the same apartment building. She's a dance teacher struggling to make ends meet. Hooked to and dependent on Evan, who is five years older and her main stability, she's thrown when she meets Evan's friend. He's fully not what she expected and fully captivating between the way he plays that guitar, his stance, his "painted on" tee and jeans with holes in the knees, the long, dark hair, and ... that accent.
It doesn't take long to find out Duncan is a huge fan of Eric Clapton. She doesn't call herself a fan, but she likes some of his music, which captivates Duncan in return. There starts a very long story that includes plenty of family issues, from all band members, and a love triangle fueled by several kinds of passion.
Eric Clapton's LP 461 Ocean Boulevard was released in 1974, after four years of his fight against drug addiction. It's been said it's his best album. Duncan and Susie talk about it in the story, about their thoughts, using it also as a metaphor for restarting on their own new paths.
Please Be With Me is a love song of not only the heart, but of the soul and the mind, a celebration of a true connection with another. It's a metaphor of the burgeoning relationship that means far more than their initial physical reactions to each other.
This entry is part of the 20th Birthday Celebration (Entry 1):