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Strange Monsters is a CD project of original short fiction and poetry read by actors and set to original music.
Strange Monsters is a music and words collaboration of imaginative fiction and poetry set to original contemporary jazz.
Strange Monsters is a music and words collaboration of imaginative fiction and poetry set to original contemporary jazz.
79 backers pledged $5,025 to help bring this project to life.

Freebies + New Reward + 5 Songs/Albums That Mean Something To Me

New Reward

We've just added a new reward; the original album artwork to be completed by Kris Goto, yours at the $400 level (like Highlander, there can be only one). Since we're commissioning her to create the artwork once we raise the funds to pay here, we don't know exactly how it will look, but we've asked her to use one of her previous works for inspiration:

We're 100% confident that it's going to turn out great. How could it not, when all her work is this good?

Freebies

Aaaaaand, because it's the last stretch for the Kickstarter and we're *so close,* we're offering a free bottle cap monster magnet to new backers at the $20+ levels OR to any backer at the $20+ levels who raises their pledge any amount. Which means, yes, even if you raise your pledge just $1, we'll still include the free bottle cap monster magnet. This freebie offer is only good through Sunday evening, so pledge as soon as possible to grab it.

5 Songs/Albums That Mean Something To Me

Some of you who follow the blog on my website have already seen this, but I wanted to post here for those who haven't.

I’ve always wanted to put out a project themed around my favorite May Sarton poem, “My Sisters, O My Sisters” titled Strange Monsters, a project about women and their voices. This is that project, and in an effort to encourage support while also giving a little something extra, I offer a list of music that has meant something to me. I hope that you’ll explore some of these artists, or re-discover some of these songs, perhaps looking on them with a new light. And I hope that my own project, my own words, will mean something to someone, too.

And if it has, or does, or you suspect it will, please donate to our Kickstarter. Every little bit helps.

1. All Things Will Unwind, My Brightest Diamond

I’ve spoken, albeit briefly, about my struggles with depression and anxiety. For me these have never been stronger than in the late winter of 2014. Several factors contributed to my depression’s worsening, but of course, as is often (I can’t speak to everyone’s. Usually?) the case with depression, no factor was directly responsible for it. The same goes for its lessening. We like the narrative of the cure-all, the revelatory moment, but these are rare and often short-lived. Therefore when I say that the writing of my story “Everything Beneath You” after a period of a literary funk helped the depression lift, I mean that it was one of many things that helped. Another was going back to therapy. Another was forcing myself to break out of my rut and challenge myself by starting—and finishing, after half a year, a novel. And yet another was discovering the band My Brightest Diamond.

My best friend introduced me to her music. There’s a reason we‘re best friends: I was immediately hooked. Her lyrics evoke the darkest of short stories. But her then-newest album, All Things Will Unwind, promised light in the dark. For the rest of the winter, I woke up each morning and sat on the couch and listened to it, to two songs in particular: “Be Brave” and “High Low Middle.” I borrowed lines from those songs and repeated them throughout the day, my mantras. Eventually, I felt okay again.

2. “It Runs In the Family,” Amanda Palmer

Everyone has family issues. Everyone inherits things—negative and positive—from families: disease, work habit, nostalgic objects. Depression, a penchant for negative thinking, fear. Good stuff, too—creativity, empathy, kindness, which my family has in spades—but Palmer’s song isn’t about those.

It’s tough to know you’re born with something, that it’s not something you can get away from because it’s inside of you. But it’s a kind of comfort to know that you’re not the only one.

3. Let It Rain, Tracy Chapman

I don’t remember where I came across Tracy Chapman, but this was the first album of hers I heard as a whole. When I first started listening to it, I was dating someone I knew wasn’t a great match, someone my family didn’t particularly care for, with good reason. But that was a lesson I needed to learn on my own. I listened to “You’re the One” over and over. Later, out of the comfortable bubble of college, when I realized my community wasn’t as comfortable discussing sex and sexuality as I had always been, I clung to the sensual vocals of “In the Dark”: half-moaning backup and slightly-slurred lyrics. Falling in love with my current partner, I played “I Am Yours” on repeat. I expect to keep finding connection with Let It Rain; it’s timeless.

4. “Diamonds and Rust,” Joan Baez

The winter I lost my college best friend, my parents gifted me a record player and their duplicate records. My best friend had been my roommate for a brief semester. We lived in a house close to campus. We didn’t have an official breakup or an official fight; regardless of the reason, she packed up her things, including our kitchen table, and left. I went home to my parents’ for the holidays only to find myself wanting to be alone. I drove back up to an empty house. I plugged my record player into an outlet in the kitchen and listened to “Diamonds & Rust” while lying on the wood floor and, in no uncertain words, weeping.

I’d just taken a course on Bob Dylan, and I understood the song was supposed to be about him. Then I discovered an alternate version, nearly identical except for the final line: “If you’re offering me diamonds and rust, I’ve already paid” became “If you’re offering me diamonds and rust, well, I’ll take the diamonds.” The song took on new meaning: Joan Baez had gotten over her heartbreak. Her sad acquiescence had morphed into an empowered ghost of anger at being mistreated, at being heartbroken.

I loved that. I borrowed her power. I moved on the best I could.

5. “Wish You Were Here,” Pink Floyd

A year or so ago, I wrote a story called “Nostalgia.” It found a home in Interzone. In the story, a group of old high school friends now in their 20’s deal with the supposed-death of a friend they lost to undiagnosed mental illness years previously. That’s only a small part of the story. But it’s one of the truest parts.

I’ve always identified strongly with Pink Floyd’s story, specifically the Syd Barrett parts. Because our friend, too, showed extraordinary promise and never got to fulfill that promise. He’s not dead, but there doesn’t have to be death for someone to become a ghost.

“Wish You Were Here” has always been my song for him. I listen to it when I want to remember. I listen to it when I want to let the ghosts free. As I was writing this post, I realized that all the songs I could currently think of that mean something to me mean something because they helped bring me out of a bad time. At first this struck me as sad. But then I realized that when I re-listen to these songs now, sure, I get sad for a second; sometimes I’m dragged back into the memory of when I first loved the song. But then I’m reminded that the pain was temporary, that the bad was temporary, that I clawed my way out. That the music helped.

Music is damn powerful.

What music has meant something to you? Leave it in the comments (preferably with a link, so I can listen to it too).

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