Latest Kickstarter Update: A Note On Technique

Crossposted from

Here’s the update I just posted for my Kickstarter backers:

Since the book has now reached its goal (thank you again — though if anyone wants to pledge more there’s still a couple of weeks in which to unlock the stretch goals of more music books), I thought people might want to know about how I’m putting this book together.

All the other music books I’ve done have been straightforward — I’ve been following the career of one musician or band from the beginning, and so there’s a simple, linear, narrative I can use. This one’s different. We’re starting with Moon Dawg, a proto-surf song, and ending with the Little Feat track Willin’, which couldn’t be more different in any way, and on the way we have to hit the Monkees, the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Nancy Sinatra, Captain Beefheart and Judee Sill.

There is a narrative, and there are links between these things, but it’s a matter of half-discovering, half-creating one, not having it handed to me.

So here’s how I’m working on this.

I’m using the desktop wiki software Zim ( ), and going through each song on my provisional list, creating wiki pages for each one, listing every participant (performers, writers, studio musicians, engineers and so on) and linking to pages for those participants.

As this goes on, I’m able to build up link maps for each participant, using Zim’s graphing software, and from those see who fits in where. Here for example is the link map for Harry Nilsson:

While here is Glenn Campbell’s:

(Neither of these are complete yet, obviously, but they show the idea).

As this goes on I become able to see which people are the ones that should be concentrated on most, and I move them into a separate subdirectory called “Main Cast”. These are the ones who I’m going to follow through the book as they weave in and out of each other’s lives (and I’ll be able to see that weaving with my link map).

So far the people in that “Main Cast” are:

Brian Wilson

Bruce Johnston

Captain Beefheart

Chip Douglas

Chris Hillman

David Crosby

Davy Jones

Dean Torrence

Frank Zappa

Gary Usher

Glen Campbell

Harry Nilsson

Howard Kaylan

Jan Berry

Kim Fowley

Mark Volman

Micky Dolenz

Mike Nesmith

Phil Spector

Ry Cooder

Terry Melcher

But the list will undoubtedly change as I fill out the wiki.

Once I’ve done this, and got the ‘cast list’ finalised, I’m then going to go through books about the main cast and look specifically for references to the others, to strengthen the links and create a more coherent narrative, before I start the actual writing process.

If people are interested, I may make copies of the wiki itself for backers. I don’t know if people would be interested, of course, but if any backers want it, I may send you copies.

Thanks again for all your support!

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