Celebrate Kurt Vonnegut’s 100th Birthday with a Collection of Songs Based on His Works
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Celebrate Kurt Vonnegut’s 100th Birthday with a Collection of Songs Based on His Works

There’s a piece from Kurt Vonnegut’s Champion Breakfast which often crosses our table this time of year. It was the day on which he declared Armistice Day, which happened to fall on his birthday, sacred:

What else is holy? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for example.

And all music.

Here, here!

Let’s hope Shakespeare doesn’t take offense if we miss his doomed teenage beau to celebrate Kurt Vonnegut’s 11/11 Centennial with songs inspired by his work.

Follow the Kilgore Trout Experience award for Sirens of Titan, above.

The driving force behind KTE Tim Langsford, a drummer who mentors Autistic students at the University of Plymouth, was looking for ways to help his “foggy mind remember the key concepts, characters, and catchy lines that appear in each of Vonnegut’s 14 books.” . .

The solution? Community and accountability for ongoing work. Langsford launched the Plymouth Vonnegut Collective in 2019 with a typed manifesto, inviting interested parties to read (or re-read) the novels in order of publication, then gather for monthly discussions.

The noble goal was for book club members to work collaboratively on a 14-track concept album informed by their reading.

They stick to it, with efforts spanning a wide range of genres.

Mother’s Night it might make your ear bleed.

Psychedelic God bless you, Mister Rosewater mixes quotes from the book with edited clips from collective discussions about the novel.

The project pushed Langsford out of the drum kit, as well as his comfort zone:

It takes an awful lot to feel comfortable with the songs I sing. However, I have tried to plead The taste of KV creations is as if no one is watching. No problem so do it for yourself…. Though do I disprove it by sharing these things on the internet rather than throwing them out invisibly or inaudible?!

Ah, but isn’t it one of the most beautiful uses of the Internet as a means of discovering what we all have in common with our fellow human beings?

Congratulations to fellow Vonnegut fans in Plymouth, who will celebrate their milestone and the legendary author’s 100th birthday with an event featuring poetry, art, music and film inspired by the birthday boy’s novel.

Folk rocker Al Stewart was another person who was “drawn in by Titan sirens.” The lyrics make a lot of sense if the novel is still fresh in your mind:

But here in the yellow and blue my days

I explored the endless Mercurian caves

Pay attention to the signs made by the Harmonian

Words on the wall

The Nice, Nice, Very Nice lyrics by Stewart’s colleagues at Ambrosia are pulled directly from the bible of Bokononism, the religion Vonnegut founded in Cat Cradle.

The band gives the writer writing credit. He returned the compliment with a fan letter:

I was at my daughter’s house last night, and the radio was on. For heaven’s sake if the DJ didn’t play our song, and tell me it’s number ten in New York, and tell me how good you guys are in general. You can imagine the pleasure it gave me. Luck has played a big role in my life. Those who know pop music keep telling me how lucky I am to bond with you. And I’m crazy about our songs myself, of course, but what do I know and why not? So far what I’ve always known: Music is the only art that is truly valuable. I envy you guys.

If that’s not good, we don’t know what is.

Vonnegut’s most famous work, time travel, anti-war novel that was always banned, Slaughterhouse-Five, presented an irresistible songwriting challenge, judging by the many songs that grew from its fertile soil.

Susan Hwang is uniquely immersed in all things Vonnegut, as the founder of the Bushwick Book Club, a group of freelance musicians who get together monthly to perform songs inspired by pre-selected titles – including nearly every novel in Vonnegut’s oeuvre, as well as short stories in Welcome to the Monkey House and an essay consisting of A Man Without a Country.

She is Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library residency artist 2022 Week of Forbidden Books.

He titled his latest EP of five songs inspired by Vonnegut, Everything satayin reference to the Sateen Dura-Luxe house paint Vonnegut’s abstract expressionist, Rabo Karabekian, likes blue beard.

We’re pretty sure that Hwang’s No Answer, offered above as a thanks to crowdfunders from a recent tour, will be the best adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five You will hear all day long.

Keep listening.

Sweet Soubrette, aka Ellia Bisker, another Bushwick Book Club fixture and half of the Gothic duo Charming Disaster, leans into Dresden horrors for her Slaughterhouse-Five contributions, name-checking debris, barbed wire, and the “mustard gas and rose” breath born of moonshine at night.

Musicologist songwriter Gail Sparlin’s My Blue Heaven: The Love Song of Montana Wildhack – seen here in the library show – is every bit as feminine and sweet as Valerie Perrine’s character in George Roy Hill’s 1972 film about Slaughterhouse-Five.

Back in 1988, Hawkwind’s The War I Survived was covered Slaughterhouse-Five with some New Wave synths…

The chorus to Sam Ford’s depressing So It Goes touches on the time travel aspect of the novel, and touches on the challenges many soldiers experience when trying to reintegrate into their pre-combat life:

That’s not the way home

Who said I want to go home?
I’m always at home
I’m always at home.

After using Vonnegut’s evergreen phrase, there’s no going without mentioning Nick Lowe’s 1976 power pop hit, though that might make for a tenuous connection.

hi ho!

Still, a weak connection can count as a connection, especially when you count all the references Cat Cradlethe government’s secret weapon, Ice Nine, in the lyrics and band name.

Then there are submerged references. We may not catch them, but we are willing to believe they are there.

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder wrote that “books like Cat’s Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Pianist… they had as much impact as any record I’ve ever owned.”

He also secured a permanent place on karass by distributing copies blue beard to participants of the 4th Annual Kokua Festival to benefit environmental education in Hawaii.

A memory Champion Breakfast the illustration is said to light a fire with the New Order, pushing Vonnegut onto the dance floor.

And Ringo Starr rose to Beatle favorite status when he tipped his hat Champion Breakfastdedicated his 1973 solo album to “Kilgore Trout and all the beavers”.

There’s so much more we could name – you’ll find some of them in the playlist below – but without further ado, let’s welcome Special K and His Crew on stage!

Yep, it’s Phish drummer (and huge Vonnegut fan) Jon Fishman who broke down.

But who is the mystery front man, spit on Chaucer The Canterbury Story?

Happy 100th, Kurt Vonnegut! We are glad that you were born.

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Come on Halliday is Chief Primatologist of Inky East Village zines and authors, latest, from Creative, Unknown: The Little Potato Manifesto. Join him for the free Vonnegut Centennial Fanzine Workshop at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library on Nov. 19. Follow him @AyunHalliday.

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