Chapter 32 2010 - Teenage Dream

“I’m going to write a Rock Opera,” I stated decisively.

“A rock opera.”

“Yes, a Rock Opera.”

Angela looked at the calendar. “It says 2010, but I guess it must be 1972.”

“There are contemporary Rock Operas.”

“Name one.”

“American Idiot, for one.”

“OK, I’ll grant you that.”

“Anything by Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.”

Angela had seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “OK, that’s a big one.”

“I’m going to write a Rock Opera. It was one on my teenage dreams.”

“Ok, I’ll bite. A rock opera about what?”

“About me. I already have the title picked out. Only Golden Fingers Could Play So Heavy.”

“You already wrote that song, and it already tells your story. Why visit the same topic over and over?”

“It’s what I know. It’s easiest to write from what you know, right?”

“But it takes imagination and engenders surprise when you find something no one else has done. Try working on that instead.”

“I’m going to write a Rock Opera!”

“OK, you’re going top write a rock opera. Big deal.”

“Where’s the encouragement? Where’s the words of kindness?”

“OK. You go, boy. Write your heart out. But you need a better idea.”

I gave it some consideration. “Aha, I’ll make my novel into a Rock Opera!” He started humming a tune. “There’s the first one!”

“Your novel. When did you ever write a novel?”

“You remember, A Life Without Pain. Remember?” He hoped she remembered.

“I don’t remember.”

“The tragic story of Clark Wilson, and his search for a comfortable existence.”

“That old thing? You haven’t touched that for more than ten years. I even told you you’d never finish it.”

“But the story has to be told! The world needs to hear! The world needs relief!”

“I could use some relief right now,” Angela mumbled as she left the room.

I set to work on his magnum opus by beginning with the central theme.

A life without pain
It’s all that I seek
It’s been unbearable
For more than a week
I hunt for relief
I search for a cure
The pain is unbearable
If only it weren’t

I stopped and reread his words. “Gold!” He continued.
A life without pain
To once again have joy
To live life pain free
As when I was a boy
To get up out of bed
Without having to scream
To float through the world
As was my own teenage dream

“Heading for number one!” He needed a bridge.
People tell me I’ll never feel relief
People tell me to turn over a new leaf.
People tell me to live with the pain.
All I can tell them is I never will again.

I could just imagine the pure emotion that the right singer could take this song to.
Life without pain
It’s all that I seek
The world may turn
The bones they may creak
The pain free existence
Is more than a dream
The doctor and I
Will make a great team

He sat down at the piano in his private studio, and started putting a melody to it. “A Life without pain,” he sang as Tyler walked into the studio. He stopped.

“What is it son? Daddy’s working.”

“Daddy? Geez, dad, I’m twenty. You haven’t been `daddy` for fifteen years.”

“I’m just trying to get a mind set for a few years ago. I’m writing a Rock Opera.”

“So I heard from mom.”

“It’s about a world free from pain, told from the perspective of its protagonist, Clark Wilson.”

“Sounds compelling.” Tyler left the room.

He continued working on the melody, arriving at just the perfect match of music and lyric. “It has to have a joyful feel. No darkness here,” he told himself.

After working out the basic melody, he started up the recording software to lay out the basic tracks. He began with the basic piano track, a lilting, almost danceable little jig. He followed with some drum patterns that were built in. “I’ll have Cory lay those down later. These are just for reference.”

Adding only a little guitar and then the bass, the underlying track was done, at least in demo form. He readied himself to record the vocal track.

“A life without pain,” he began when Mia walked in.

“Dad, you’ve been at it for hours. Can’t you take a break? I have finals tomorrow. They’re important to me.”

“I’m writing a Rock Opera!”

“Yes, we all know you’re writing a rock opera.”

“Not just a rock opera. A Rock Opera!”

“OK, yeah. Well, please take a break.”

I looked up at the clock. It had been hours. He was surprised at how much time had passed. He was in his element. Time for a break.

He emerged from the seclusion of the studio and back into the real world of his family. Chrissy, Billy, Liam and Angelica were visiting. “I didn’t hear you come in. What’s the occasion?”

“Just a visit. We hadn’t been over for a few days.”

“I’m writing a Rock Opera!”

“So I’ve been told. Whoopee!” her lack of enthusiasm no way dulled I’s.

“This is serious stuff,” I proclaimed. “The world will not know what hit them when it is released.”

Angela offered her comment, “I could use a world without pain. I’ve got a headache.”

I was oblivious to Angela’s subtlety. “See, that’s what I’m talking about. Everybody suffers pain, everybody seeks relief. This will be the prescription!”

I hurried back to the studio, also oblivious to the rest of the family.

“I’m on a roll, and not about to quit now,” he exclaimed. He thought for a bit, then declared. “Dear Doctor!” He began to write.
Dear Doctor, I need you to see
The grief of pain that’s bothering me
The months and years that I’ve suffered along.
I hope you will prescribe something strong.

Dear Doctor, I know you’re seeing someone
Else at the moment, but soon you’ll be done.
I await the expertise you advise
I’ll know when I see it in you eyes.

Dear Doctor, please tell me you’ll come by a cure
A magical porion, of that I am sure
The moments of agony awaiting your call
It’s torture, but gratitude, you’ll have it all.

“Another masterpiece!” he declared. I can’t wait to hear it in its fully realized form.

Again, he set the recording software to supply a drum track, simple, understated, plaintive.

“I think this needs that music that imitates a cry for help. Not quite the blues, not quite a death knell.”

He took out the acoustic guitar, and added some simple chords, and sang a melody, emerging from his throat at as if being born. Notes that the world had never heard before.

Adding the bass track, he varied from his signature sound, and just laid a very simple upper register line, almost a wolf’s call. He played the resulting track back, and tears came into his eyes. “That’s what I’m looking for. Deep sadness, pleading for relief.”

Moving to the keyboards, he laid down a barely audible track, subtle, tender, pleading. Tears continued to flow, soaking his shirt.

“It needs strings.” He switched registers and add a violin solo that would make angels cry. Exhausted, he looked to the clock and discovered it had become the next day. He needed sleep.

Waking at 6 AM the next morning, he was refreshed and ready to hit it again. “I’m writing a Rock Opera!” It had become his mantra.
“Wake me when you’re done,” was Angela’s response.

I mulled over what his next song should be. He considered other forms of bodily pain. He considered toothaches, headaches, broken bones, stubbed toes, gastroenteritis, sore throat, earache. All seemed ripe for its own exploration. But then, he considered as he looked inward, “What about emotional pain? It’s as real as any other.”

He recalled his father mentioning a song called “My Boots are Covered in Manure,” that was a regional hit for Angela’s father’s band way back in the forties. “That sound like it would be painful experience, it would cause heartache. I could make my own version, my own interpretation.” He started writing.
The boss told me, "Bob,
If you're keeping this job
You must go to the field
and bring in the cattle."

I told him I would
Or at least that I could
If it wasn't for one thing
keeping me out of the saddle.

It's the lady I seek
I've only known her a week
She won't look my way
But I'll try again today

She told me for sure
It's a curse I endure
For you see, these boots
are covered with manure

It's the part I hate most
I would normally boast
But I'm a cowboy whose boots
are covered in manure.

My sweetie I've lost
And oh what a cost
She cannot see past
The smell that is cast

The boots, the boots
are covered in manure
The boots, the boots
are covered in manure

I'd quit in a flash
If I didn't need the cash
My needs are so few
If I only could get her

The pay is OK
But for the rest of the day
It stinks, it stinks
And I know I'll never get her

'Cause these boots are covered,
so covered, they're covered
In the stench of manure, from cattle and chickens.

Did I forget to tell you about the chickens?

He liked that last little line about the chickens. It would give just the little bit of hope, that ray of sunshine, that hope that relief may be just around the corner.

“It must be Country song, no doubt about it.”

I had never written a Country song, but figured it wouldn’t be too hard. Simple beat, three chords, guitar accompaniment. Not much else to it. He laid down the track.

After it was done, he sent a copy to his father and then called him on the phone. “Take a listen, dad. Tell me what you think.”

Henry retrieved the file and listened on the spot. “It doesn’t sound like the same song. The words are different and the melody isn’t at all like the original.”

“That’s the point dad, it’s a new take on a old concept. I think it will be a hit.”

Surprisingly enough, the song did gain some airplay, released under his “Arthur Potsworth” pseudonym that he had last used nearly thirty years earlier. No one ever knew it was really I Mall.

The Rock Opera did not get finished, and did not get released. The teenage dream was unfulfilled.