Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Going Retro

WINSTON CHURCHILL once said he could look farther into the future than others, because he looked further back into the past.

I think of this quote in regard to rock musician Jack White. It applies to his latest album, but also to his recordings with The White Stripes. One sees his influences in his songs’ echoes: 60’s garage rock, from 13th Floor Elevator to The Amboy Dukes. Farther back, to the guitar and drum work on Everly Brothers’ songs like “Don’t Let the Whole World Know.”

Due to these motifs, reimagined, Jack White’s songs sound completely original and new. His collections show far more variety, a kaleidoscope of sound, than those of any other artist, most of whom are stuck in the recent and predictable now.

I believe that creative writers can do likewise. For my ebook Ten Pop Stories, I looked not at recent (stale) “literary” short story history, which every other writer is doing. Instead I read stories from the days when the form was exciting and popular—from writers like O. Henry and Frank Stockton. One doesn’t need to copy the stories to be influenced by them. Instead, capture their sense of magic, adventure, and fun.

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