The return of Musical Monday to the Blog
Renee Conouty - on music and swin dancing this Musical Monday
A book with a couple swing dancing on the cover is bound to be full of music. How can you dance if there’s no music? I wanted to include musical references in
my story but I had to do it carefully because of copyright issues. As much as I wanted to have my characters sing along to the music or reference the lyrics of the song, I couldn’t quote the songs directly without paying royalties and as a debut author, that was out of my budget. I did manage to mention seven different songs though.
Song titles aren’t copyright, so I used one for my title “Don’t Mean a Thing” and this song also plays during the final scene.
The drummer set the tempo for the next song, and the band began to play an instrumental version of It Don’t Mean a Thing If It ‘Ain’t Got That Swing.
“Jam circle,” Eddie called.
The dancers spread out around the edge of the dance floor and began clapping, emphasising the even beats of the snare drum.
I referred to the title of a song in this scene where the hero, Matt, is teaching the heroine, Macie, how to dance.
Matt started by my side then brought me around in front of him. He led me backwards as he took two steps towards me, thrusting his chin at me twice like an awkward chicken. Then he did it all again.
“What on earth were you doing with your head? I thought you were about to attack me!”
“I was pecking. That move’s called the peck.”
“Well, I’m not doing that ridiculous chin thing.”
“It’s not ridiculous. That’s one of Frankie’s favourite moves.”
“Well, Frankie is a dork. I want to show everyone how cool swing is, not give them something else to laugh about.”
“Frankie is not a dork. That’s practically sacrilegious, you can’t talk about Frankie Manning like that. But yeah, I get your point. Okay. No pecks at the Airman’s Ball, but next time we dance to Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens at the Railway, you gotta peck with me.”
“Deal.” I crossed my fingers behind my back. There was no way I was ever going to peck.
Here’s a reference to a swing song called Shiny Stockings.
Even with the air-con running, my legs glistened with perspiration as if I were wearing those shiny stockings Ella was singing about.
They weren’t all vintage songs. Here’s a song that played at the Airman’s Ball.
As my gaze whizzed around the room—I really needed to get better at spotting—I noticed Jeremy over talking to the MC. What he was up to became apparent when Christina Aguilera began singing Candyman.
I’d never noticed how fast that song was until I was dancing in three-inch heels on a slippery parquetry floor.
And a more abstract song reference. Beyond the Sea plays during the closing credits of Finding Nemo.
The music seemed somewhat familiar. I’d heard this song in a movie. But what movie? Images of a little animated orange fish and a deep blue sea popped into my head. The closing credits of Finding Nemo. How could I forget Nemo?
Another animated movie song reference.
There was something catchy about swing music. I loved it. Some of the songs on Wednesday night I’d recognised from movie soundtracks. When the band broke out with “The Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book, I couldn’t hold back my grin.
They weren’t all swing songs, though. This one’s from my favourite movie.
My imagination ran away with me, re-enacting the final dance scene from Dirty Dancing with Matt and me in the starring roles.
“Do you think you could teach me one of those fancy moves where you throw me around?” I imagined Matt lifting me overhead, arms outstretched, like I was flying.
“We can definitely work towards that, but we have to get the basics down first. And that’s not the sort of thing you can do on a social dance floor. It’s more of a performance thing.”
I took another sip of my tea, smiling to myself as I’ve had the time of my life continued playing in my mind.
And to keep your toes tapping, here’s the playlist my publisher, Kindred Ink Press, put together for Don’t Mean a Thing.