When the King of Talk Boy Abunda wrote in the Foreword of my new book Rhythm & Bruise that I completed it partly while “missing performing with his band songs about love, loss, heartbreak, dreams, and foibles,” he poetically hit the right note.
May I elaborate by informing that the book containing 18 short stories is loaded with music-related stuff. The book title itself is a pun on the genre Jay-R and Kyla crafted their careers from. I called one story “Beauty and Madz” which is obviously a wink on that classic ballad from Norwegian duo Fra Lippo Lippi.
Four stories deal with bands: “The Band That Never Was,” “Real Rocker,” “My James Band,” and “Rolet’s 12.” To say that my experiences as a songwriting bassist have to do with my penchant for the subject is an understatement.
As Tito Boy noted when showing readers glimpses of what to expect through narratives he singled out, “‘The Band That Never Was’ is a tale about a college band, a potential hit song, a manager with the freakish smile who had the drummer rolled out of the band and someone gets killed.”
That potential hit, “Dances In Delight,” is actually a still-unrecorded composition of mine that I wish to have my group The Pub Forties tackle. Truth, well, is stranger than fiction. The pandemic kept us bandmates from gathering to do it that a band imagined in my head beat us to the draw.
The entry that carried the book’s name was inspired by the tragic tale of Eva Cassidy, an American singer who died even before her moving voice was noticed in the music scene. Her version of Sting’s “Fields Of Gold” is arrestingly beautiful; it’s difficult to continue whatever I’m doing when I hear it.
The TV icon opened his Foreword by referring to a 17th century Walt Whitman poem “A Song of Myself.” He expressed down the road, “We are rhythm in progress – until we are bruised enough – no one is never quite there.”
I wrote the short story entries during a devastating period punctuated by the passing of my older brother Boygic and father Yuli. The first story I wrote back last year, or a month after my Kuya, a physician by profession, became a pandemic hero; the last one a couple of weeks before my old man breathed his last —on Sept. 16 in California. He died not because of the dreaded virus, yet his vitals went down having lost his junior from it.
I am pleased that Tito Boy emphasized my personal take on the fictional tales in “Rhythm & Bruise.” He knew I felt so much for my contemporaries who perished or forever scarred when music stopped at the Ozone Disco 25 years ago. So much so that I wrote two stories based on it.
The Boy Abunda ultimately pointed out that “as a storyteller,” I am “always personal.” It's the same approach I employ when I make or assess music.