Seattle musician, music writer, and author, Dave O’Leary has signed with Seattle-based company, Booktrope, for the publication of his second novel in the fall of 2014. An exact release date has not yet been determined.
The Music Book is a novel inspired by O’Leary’s time as a music writer for Seattle Subsonic and Northwest Music Scene. The fictional narrative is wrapped around and within authentic music writing about real bands and real musicians; the story is as much about music in Seattle as it is about the power of music in our lives.
About the Book
What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?
The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.
Quotes from The Music Book:
On becoming a critic rather than a musician:
With a pen and a notebook, I push forward into the unknown, into something I’d never imagined doing, just listening, just being in the audience, taking notes on the sounds of the E chords played by others and passing a kind of judgment on them. It’s an unforeseen turn in this life, but one thing I’ve always known is that the greatest things often come from such, and I wonder in these moments, first beer half finished, if the word that truly applies is serendipity, and if so, what will I find?
On finding local music:
I like to sit at the end of the bar and watch an unknown band swing for the fence. It’s better to discover music that way, more personal than radio, more intimate than a festival with all its distractions that sideline the music. Not that there aren’t great bands playing festivals and stadiums, but in the small clubs, it’s all about the music, only the music. The crowd and the personalities and the sponsors fall away. All that matters, the only thing that matters, is the sound that emanates from the stage.
Music as a reminder of fear and loss:
I sit rooted in the slow, mournful pulse of the piano in a song about an old man dying and saying his goodbyes via videotape in reds and blues and greens. I sip my beer, the pulse goes on, steady but tense, seeming to drag a little at times like it might end at any moment, just like the old man’s heart. The voice of the song goes on to say that he shouldn’t be afraid, but I am. A few chords on a piano have made me so, made me afraid of many things, or rather, so quickly reminded me of fears I already had, and though I know there’s no answer to anything in my glass, I drain it in one big gulp thinking that maybe one will be there in the refill. The song fades into the ringing silence of my tinnitus, and I grab a napkin and the pen Katie left on the bar and write one line, “This just isn’t working.”
Seattle Bands Featured in The Music Book:
Sightseer, Furniture Girls, The Missionary Position, Like Lightning, The Jesus Rehab, Julia Massey and the Five-Finger Discount, The Young Evils, Kristen Ward, The Slants, The Head and the Heart, Star Anna, Christa Says Yay, Witchburn, Bone Cave Ballet, Alabaster (no longer together)
And of course, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mad Season, Alice Mudgarden.
About Dave O’Leary
Dave O’Leary’s first novel, Horse Bite, was released in 2011. He has since been published in The Monarch Review and on Slate.com in addition to the music writing he continues to do for Northwest Music Scene.
Music Writing: Northwest Music Scene