Friday, June 23, 2017

The Story Behind the Art by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Do you read books or poems, hear songs, look at pictures or paintings, and wonder, how did the author come up with this? What does it mean? Is there some simple elegance to this piece? Or is there a deeper meaning hidden by my lack of knowledge about the origins?

Art is richer when you (the reader, the listener, the viewer) know the “backstory.” That’s why doing interviews as an author is so important, especially when you can peel back some layers and allow your audience to see you as a real person or how you come up with your stories.

I’ve been doing blog interviews for some time now, both as a guest and as the interviewer, but the importance of this concept was truly “brought home” to me recently.

We were listening to Sirius/XM radio on the way to the beach over Memorial Day weekend. They were doing a countdown of the Top 100 most influential rock-n-roll songs of all time. I’m not sure who put the list together, but like so many of these kinds of countdowns, I took issue with many of the selections as well as where some were ranked.

However, one particularly interesting part of this countdown was an interview they did with Robert Lamm, one of the members of the group Chicago. Leading into the next song in the Top 100 (I forget which number it was), they replayed an interview from some time back wherein Lamm explained how he came up with the name to the song, 25 or 6 to 4. Have you ever wondered how that song got its name? Me, too.

Lamm told the story of how—at the time he wrote the song—he was staying in an upstairs apartment with some immigrants from Europe in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area. It was early in the morning, and he’d been up all night, feeling the pressure of having to come up with songs that rivaled the ones found on the band’s debut album, which released in January 1969 with Columbia Records, and sold over one million copies. The band had just returned from a successful European tour and needed to complete the song list for the LP which would become Chicago II.

Lamm tells the story of how the music for the song came easy to him. Being the keyboardist for the group, this song actually started with a guitar riff. The rest of the notes flowed and were on paper quickly, but the lyrics? Not so much. He scribbled lines down. Some rhymed. Some still needed a match. He saw a bar across the street with “dancing lights against the sky.” There were airplanes, too, flying in and out of LAX. More dancing lights.

At one point, he looked at his watch. Squinting, he couldn’t tell exactly what time it was. At first, he thought it was twenty-five ’til four. Then, he said no, it’s twenty-six minutes until 4:00 a.m. “Is it twenty-five or six to four?” Noticing the line “25 or 6 to 4” rhymed with a line he’d penned earlier ending with the word “floor,” he jotted it down as well, thinking it would serve for now as a working title.

Soon, what Robert Lamm had was, in his words, “a song about writing a song.” So, when you click on the lyrics below and listen to the song itself, it just may take on a whole new persona. I know it did for me. Now, when I hear the song and think about it being “a song about writing a song,” the lyrics not only make perfect sense, but they almost seem comical.

Sometimes, simple is better than complex when it comes to art. Knowing the story behind the art is always useful, too. But what it does more than anything is allow the reader/listener/viewer to realize the Robert Lamm’s of the world are just like us. They struggle. They lie awake at night, trying to “think of something to say.” They feel the pressure of their last success pushing them to be better, to improve in their craft, not knowing “how much more they can take.” Yet, these are all things we, as writers, wrestle with every day. So, be encouraged. Who knows, maybe someday, you’ll write a book on writing a book.

I’ll bet it will look and sound very similar to the song below, as you sit at your computer, staring at the clock, wondering, “Is it 3:35 or 3:34 a.m.?”

Song Video (Live Version) of 25 or 6 to 4
Lyrics to 25 or 6 to 4

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His Blake Meyer series is out! 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out in August 2017! Also, the second edition of The Serpent’s Grasp will be out in June 2017 through Hallway Publishing!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page  
Twitter:                                  @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:                            C. Kevin Thompson