If It’s Good Enough for Mr. Livgren, then …

If It’s Good Enough for Mr. Livgren, then …

I’ve admired Kerry Livgren for a long time.

Yes, you know him. The composer, guitarist, lyricist of Kansas.

Yes – “Carry on Wayward Son” – “Dust in the Wind”

Okay, now you’re with me.

Livgren didn’t just disappear after the glory years of Kansas in the late seventies and early eighties. Far from it. He released many solo albums, founded the band A.D., got back together with his old mates from the pre-Kansas days and released three terrific albums under the name Proto Kaw.

The guy is brilliant. Yet, the thing that has stood out the most for me about his musical procedures is that he is never satisfied. He said in an interview once that if he has the opportunity to make a previously released song better, he wouldn’t hesitate to do that. And he has.

He has remastered albums. He has kept the vocals of songs and completed rerecorded the instruments to make an even better product.

His dedication to his craft is relentless, and it has inspired me (as a writer) to be like Kerry!

When I think back seven years ago when I was writing my first novel, I didn’t know what I was doing. Seven years later, I’m still learning – lots.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the old stories. A lot, actually. I’m proud of my first novel BEAUTY RISING, but can it be better? Yes. Can I apply things I know now and didn’t know then to make it better? Yes. Will I do it? I will try. (There is a thing called time, you know.)

So I am hoping to do something like Kerry does. I’m not going to change the stories. The heart of the story will remain, but I might rework the language. I make color passages in a more interesting way. I may delete adverbs which I seemed to like so well back then. I’m looking forward to doing a new re-edit on some of my old stories to help freshen them up with my new rounds of knowledge about writing.

If it’s good enough for Kerry, it’s good enough for me. What about you?

Revisiting an Old Script and Loving It

Kerry Livgren, composer and musician for the 70s progressive rock group Kansas (and always one of my favorites – check out Proto-Kaw), once said that he loved the opportunity to re-record a track that he had written. In essence, anyway that it can be improved he loved to do it.

Well, I made a determination a short time ago to do a re-staging of one of the plays/musicals which I wrote about seven years ago entitled “A Tad of Trouble.” It was only the second play I had written, and it turned out to be a huge audience favorite. The story line is as follows:

In 1903, a troubled, mute boy, Tad, is sent off by his father to work for a traveling salesman, who turns out to be a crook. Tad’s guardian angel discovers unexpectedly that when she sings, Tad can hear her. So she decides to give Tad the voice of song if “he agrees to right the wrongs.”

It’s a really fun and funny play with a large dose of music added to it since everything that comes out of Tad’s mouth is a song.

Now, I get to do a Kerry Livgren and re-think and re-form the play into a full-fledged musical with many new songs, edited scenes, and crisper dialogue. This is one of the projects I am working on now and it is extremely enjoyable. I’ll be working with some young, talented composers on some of the new songs, and then we will put the whole script into full production starting in January.

Most things that I write I am happy to keep in the past and just move on to something new. But every once in a while, it is good to go back and “do it right”, improve a piece of writing, look at it with fresh eyes, and be creative once again on an old piece of writing.

Give it a try sometime. I bet you will be amazed at how many new ideas you have now compared to when you originally wrote it.