Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Has your music ever been used in film/TV really, really well?


I know you're probably too busy being a genius to watch TV, but just FYI, there's a show on FX called The Americans that uses music SO WELL. Set during the Cold War, they use 80's pop music to convey a sense of cold, scary urgencyand, more importantly, to underscore and elevate the emotional intensity, and complexity, of the characters' experiences. In the series opener, it was "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac, during an epic chase scene. Last week it was "Only You," by Yaz(oo).

Ideally you would stop right now, go watch that episode and the 2.5 seasons that preceded it, then come back and finish reading this post. But for efficiency's sake, I'll try to just summarize the scene during which "Only You" played (spoilers!!):

A KGB spy now living in the US and raising two American kids who don't know he's a spywho don't even know he and their mother are Russianhas recently discovered that the KGB plans to recruit his teenage daughter. Simultaneously, he's been assigned the task of seducing a different teenage girl, starry-eyed and full of daddy issues, for their cause. He hates it, but he does it, and he does it well: the starry-eyed girl falls for him. She plays him "Only You" as she snuggles up in the crook of his arm, glowing with the promise of romance and the hope that her life might finally feel as beautiful and important as this song. The spy keeps his arm around her because that's his job, but his face is set with misery and dread and a deep, rightous anger.

It killed me, Elvis.

I can't recall your songs ever being used so well to help tell another story. 200 Cigarettes was fun but silly; "She" in Notting Hill was gorgeous but saccharine. I know "Complicated Shadows" was in an episode of The Sopranos, but that seems kind of obvious. What am I missing? There's so much potential! Maybe The Americans has something big in store for "Peace in Our Time"...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Do you ever just veg?

Hi Elvis,

That's me in my happy place: on a couch, snuggling with my husband, with a wine-reddened face. 

I like to have fun. And I like to relax. 

I believe these to be the two main reasons I haven't written a novel, despite getting an extremely expensive MFA in Creative Writing and telling everyone I knew for basically a decade that I was "halfway finished with my book." (To be fair: this was true).

Dan has the same problem which makes us a bad match, in a way (and a great match, in another way--don't we look happy?).

But now that I've reached the midpoint of my thirties and have brought a human life into the world, I'm starting to get bummed out by how little I have to show for all this fun and relaxing. Not that I haven't been working hard; career-wise I've done all right. But I would like to be able to pull a book off the shelf to show my daughter my work, as my father did to me. I would like to show her how cool it is to create something from the scratch and then see it all the way through. 

But I also reeeeeeeeally want to sit with my husband on a couch and drink a glass of wine. Or a nice Belgian beer. Or a cocktail. 

Do you and Diana Krall ever curl up for some buzzy conversation and a Better Call Saul, after you've put the twins down? 

I doubt it. How could you produce so much work, if so? And I know you don't drink; I read somewhere that you "just stopped one day and didn't miss it," which, having survived nine months of pregnancy-enforced sobriety, is mind-blowing to me. You and Diana probably sit thigh-to-thigh on the piano bench and trade fours until it gets so brilliant, someone has to start recording.

Photo by Bridget Farmer

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Have you ever had to interact with Kanye West?

I'm just trying to imagine what that would be like.

Would you treat him like a grownup, like someone who doesn't refer to himself in the third person and would never tell a well-deserving Grammy winner they should give their award to someone else to "respect artistry" because WHO WOULD DO THAT?

I think you would, because you're a mature man, a father of three, and a wizened veteran of an ego-driven business. Or would the punk inside you, the one who wrote How to Be Dumb and so many other anthems of scorn, put him in his place?

Srsly tho. Go take your place in the modern museum of mistakes, dude.

(I don't know why I'm so upset about this. Morning Phase was just so pretty).

Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters