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Rosalind Franklin album and comic book's video poster
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Rosalind Franklin's work helped lead to the discovery of DNA's double helix structure. She received little credit in her lifetime. Read more

Los Angeles, CA Music
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Rosalind Franklin's work helped lead to the discovery of DNA's double helix structure. She received little credit in her lifetime.

Los Angeles, CA Music
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About this project

The Basic Scoop:

This project is a concept album and comic book about the life of Rosalind Franklin, the English scientist whose pioneering work helped lead to the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, but who was denied due credit during her tragically short lifetime. The music is eclectic: some bossa nova here, a polka there, wind quintet, 70s AM rock... all with a sprinkling of pretty counterpoint. The comic book is roughly 25 full colour pages. I expect the entire project to be finished by late autumn. Your pledges will help pay for mixing and mastering the album, audio CD duplication, printing the comic book, and promotion. Thanks!

The Background Story:

Hi, I’m Bennett Lin, singer and currently sole member of the band Bobtail Yearlings; I wrote all the songs and I’m drawing all the comics for this project. I’m fascinated by the endless ways in which melody, harmony, lyrics, and visuals may be woven together to create an engaging story. Our first album, Yearling’s Bobtail, played with inventive narrative forms inspired by Modernist writer James Joyce. However, its lyrical and conceptual density didn't translate well live. As such, despite garnering initial attention from Secretly Canadian and Nonesuch, it failed to make an impact and was subsequently rejected by both record labels.

Dejected in the knowledge that we’d done our best and it still wasn’t good enough, I took comfort in reading about Rosalind Franklin’s struggles as a female scientist in the 1950s. Like Franklin, I had strong faith in the value of understated hard work; also like Franklin, I could easily provoke and alienate those whose cooperation I needed most. Her early death from ovarian cancer especially hit a nerve after our own bassist and dear friend, David Kannenstine, passed away from pancreatic cancer two years ago.

As I recovered from the label rejections and from losing Dave, I felt a strong desire to tell Rosalind Franklin’s story; after all, if it could resonate so strongly with my experiences, it might do the same for countless others. Thus, this album isn’t just a straightforward biography. On a deeper level, it explores the oftentimes capricious nature of success versus failure, recognition versus obscurity, and ponders the relative roles played by merit, chance, social bonds, unconscious biases, and our own personal virtues and flaws in determining such vastly different outcomes for each one of us.

I think this album can help bring attention to the difficulties still faced by women in the sciences today. I also hope it will be a fitting tribute to Dave, in any small way it can. And finally, I believe its success will be a boon to experimental songwriters and others who share my aesthetics and priorities. Unconventional narrative forms are difficult to pull off in a live setting, putting us at a huge disadvantage in today’s music scene, so I’m always happy to see one of us beat the odds every now and again. And if it should happen to be my band for once, then hey... I certainly won’t complain!

Links:

Bobtail Yearlings website: Feel free to download mp3s, lyrics, and scores from our first album, Yearling's Bobtail, as well as the complete manuscript of my songwriting book, Bobtail Method. It's a simple yet effective lesson plan based on my personal approach to songwriting, in which melody and chords are written together as an integrated whole rather than as discrete layers.

Some notable songs from Yearling's Bobtail:

Willy the Cocoa (audio, lyrics): A song juxtaposing my childhood growing up with an autistic brother and the murder of an autistic homeless man. Lyrically, my attempt to create a sinister version of Jabberwocky.

Good Night, Sita (audio, lyrics): A song about an unsuccessful first date. Lyrically, my attempt to create an uninterrupted, stream-of-consciousness monologue similar to the “Penelope” chapter of Ulysses.

Constellations (audio, lyrics): My attempt to recreate the multicontextual puns of Finnegans Wake. (Full disclosure: I actually never got past the first fifty or so pages!)

Odin (audio, lyrics), On a Golden Cord (audio, lyrics), Cremated (audio, lyrics): These songs use a literary device of my own invention called doublespeaker rhyme, whereby two different sets of lyrics that rhyme syllable for syllable are sung simultaneously and in harmony, each panned hard to a separate speaker.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    1 backer

    Tip jar for all the free downloads from our website!

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    9 backers

    The Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book, signed by me.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    1 backer

    The Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book AND a Yearling's Bobtail CD, both signed by me.

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    0 backers

    The Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book, a Yearling’s Bobtail CD, AND my Bobtail Method book, all signed by me.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    0 backers

    The Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book, a Yearling’s Bobtail CD, and my Bobtail Method book, all signed by me, PLUS a signed and numbered 8"x12" colour print of my "Rosalind Franklin with DNA" drawing shown above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Everything from the $100 pledge, PLUS an hour-long, private songwriting lesson with me. This can be done through video chat or in person if you live nearby. (I'll be in Los Angeles this summer and in Seattle this fall.) I will be happy to listen to your music and/or read your lyrics and scores beforehand.

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    1 backer

    Everything from the $100 pledge, PLUS your name credited under "Producer" in the Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (20 left of 20)

    Everything from the $100 pledge, your name credited under "Producer," AND a single appearance of your cartoon likeness in the role of a minor character or bystander in the Rosalind Franklin CD/comic book.

Funding period

- (90 days)