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One of my favorite songs is No One Lives Forever by Oingo Boingo from their Dead Man’s Party album (better known for containing the also-awesome Weird Science.) I could’ve perhaps been introduced to Oingo Boingo by my mom, who liked them in the 80s and who loves Danny Elfman, or I could’ve found out about them because I love Danny Elfman, but the fact is neither of those.
I found out about Oingo Boingo from my favorite novel of all time, Boogiepop and Others. Boogiepop is chock full of musical references, which has given me a lot of music to explore, and No One Lives Forever is one of the most overt, being not only a chapter title, but cited directly in the text and sung by one of the characters.
I find it interesting that I learned about this great song from a Japanese light novel of all things, and my favorite one at that, but what’s even more killer is how I think Kadono Kouhei found out about the band.
See, Boogiepop is known to take some influence from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, especially the tendency to name everything after music. If you look at the music referenced in both, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kadono’s tastes were influenced by researching the music referenced in Jojo’s. For instance, in JoJo’s part 3, there are a pair of characters named ‘Oingo’ and ‘Boingo’ after the band!
I can totally see Kadono reading that, listening to them, loving them, writing them into his own story, and then years later, myself, reading that, listening to them, loving them, and writing them into MY own story. After all, I, too, have a tendency to name just about everything after music. Maybe that’s another part of the Boogiepop influence on me.
What’ll really get me is if my novel manages to get some people into new music~
Either because I was young or unknowledgeable before, or just because I hadn’t given it enough thought yet, I sometimes find myself realizing the meaning of a line in a song or a story years after first hearing or reading it.
A huge example for me came recently when I was listening to November Has Come by Gorillaz. I’ve loved the Demon Dayz album for years now, and it’s one of my favorite and most played/sung albums, but the lyrics to most of the songs make next to no sense. The first verse of November Has Come is one of the least comprehensible, and supposedly it came about when the rapper just tried to see how many rhymes he could lace together in a single minute - I believe it. But here’s a line that caught my attention recently (note that no Gorillaz lyrics are official, this is just from experience)
"that blanks the raw that dank sure stank lit, sank past the pit for more hardcore prank spit"
The line as a whole still makes no sense, but the phrase “that dank sure stank lit” certainly has meaning. For those who don’t know, ‘dank’ is stoner slang for really good weed. Obviously, the dank stank when they lit it up to smoke it. I wouldn’t have known this until my stoner roommates crash coursed me in cannabis culture terminology, and I was quite surprised when I suddenly recognized the line.
This next line caught my attention just yesterday. It’s a song by The Delgados, from their Hate album - another one of my favorite albums wherein the lyrics are all extremely cryptic. I was listening to the song ‘All Rise’ which I’ve sort of gathered is a song about a guy who was less than great throughout his life, and seems to be dying during the song or something - it’s really hard to say much about, but here’s the chorus:
"I’m not sure if I’m in or I’m out - I have hope now where I keep her doubt - but if I had confessions, I’d have concessions - I had to win at all costs… so it ends"
The phrase that got my attention was ‘if I had confessions, I’d have concessions’ - I’d never given it much thought before, but i think what the singer is getting across is that he’s done so much exciting/terrible shit in his life that if he were to confess it all, he could sell tickets to listeners. Clever line, playing off of an analogy(hyperbole?) without actually using it.
The last example I have is actually from my favorite novel, Boogiepop and Others. In chapter 2, near the beginning, the kids in Suema Kazuko’s class are gossiping about Nagi “Fire Witch” Kirima (nicknamed after a King Crimson song by the author) and the mysteries surrounding. Leading up to the moment, the girls were asking Kazuko about what kind of person would be a killer, because she is obsessed with criminal psychology. As Kazuko expects, when she details a killer, the girls all mention Nagi.
"Hmm, well, she’s not normal, that’s for sure."
"Not normal? The Fire Witch is six kinds of crazy!"
"She’s skipped two days since the new term started. Wonder if she’ll even bother tomorrow…"
"She might as well not. Even when she does come, she causes trouble the moment she steps through the gates and gets herself sent right back home."
"Kya ha ha! Sounds like her!"
"So far as killing goes, I hear she actually is.”
"You know, one slip and you miss your period…"
"Then she gets herself suspended before anyone notices and takes care of it…"
"I believe it!"
^Okay, this one is a bit more obvious, but it still took my dumb ass until like my ninth read-through to realize what they meant about the ‘killing’. The implication is that Nagi’s been getting pregnant, then getting herself suspended to go get an abortion. Once again, very clever and excellent dialog, giving you the point (if you have a brain, unlike me) without spelling it out.
Ever had this experience?