Slice of Life: Little Musicians in Speakers

Slice of Life

(This is part of the Slice of Life project at Two Writing Teachers)

Wacky idea alert!

My youngest was in the middle seat of the van as the older son controlled the radio buttons (there was a long squabble over pop music or the Star Wars story tape which we have listened to “at least 200 times!” and the one closest to the radio, the oldest, won.) That was followed by a spell of quiet listening, and then the little one asked, “Where is that music coming from?”

My oldest son and I looked at each other.

“The speakers, ” I said. “There are two in the front and two in the back.”


“But, who’s making the music? Who’s playing the music?”

My oldest son explained about how music is recorded and how we listen to the recorded music. I could tell, though, that the little guy had this vision of little musicians in the back of the van, waiting to be told what song to play (or, in his preference, what story to tell) before cranking it out for our entertainment.

And I had this neat idea that that concept of little musicians would make a cool comic or graphic novel — a bunch of Beatles-like players just hanging around, waiting for a song to be chosen, playing the song and then, like those clowns in Waiting for Godot, just hanging around, waiting and talking. All inside the speaker box.

Can’t you see that? I can. I can hear it, too.

This morning, as the cat (again) woke me up early and I lay in bed, I started imagining some of the musicians in the box.  The name of the band might be The Pop Rocks. There might be:

  • Shellbean — the guitar player, who is sort of paranoid about someone opening up the speaker and finding them there. She thinks they are just fakers and will be found out. She loves hard rock — AC/DC and Pearl Jam rock her world — and groans when someone chooses John Mayer (“Music for wimps,” she calls it). Shellbean handles the lead female vocals, but reluctantly.
  • Jeff — the bass player, is sort of lazy and goes with the flow. He enjoys the world of the speaker, because most of the time, he isn’t doing anything at all. He debates philosophy with the rest and dreams of someday finding a Tuba in the speaker. He thinks the appearance of a Tuba would be a sign from God. It’s all about the Tuba.
  • Timtam — the drummer and the leader of the group. Timtam is all about energy and spends much of his time trying to get the group to practice. “We got to be ready!” is his mantra, and he imagines something bigger – brighter lights — for them because his theory is that they are being auditioned for something. He doesn’t know what yet, but something. He loves all music except … he hates Abba. Timtam is the lead male singer.
  • “Fingers” Phineas — the keyboard/synth player and sometimes, guitar, too. Fingers has a driving ambition — he wants to write and perform original songs.  Sometimes, during long stretches of songs, he will get the group to unexpectedly insert one of their originals into the mix of cover songs. Fingers is a bit disappointed that this is where he ended up, give his background. “I’m classically trained!” he cries from time to time.

Peace (in the little people),

  1. How old is your youngest? Little kids are such great questioners, and we learn so much from seeing things through their eyes. I think your comic idea sounds really good!

  2. Love the idea! I always thought that all the bands were literally at the radio station. I had a strange picture in my head of all of them, hanging out, just waiting to go on and sing. I thought it was all kind of like the Ed Sullivan show, only I couldn’t see them. I was MUCH older than 5 and still thought it worked that way!

  3. I love that your inspiration came from a conversation between your boys! You have a great imagination:-)

    ***You asked about Engrade. I work with community college students and find Engrade to be a great tool. It helps them see what happens when they choose not to turn in a “couple” of assignments. It also helps me to see which students I need to talk to because I can see who has been checking their grades and who has not.***

  4. That’s quite a crew you cooked-up. I particularly like Shellbean’s name and description (especially the part about being reluctant about doing female vocals!). I think the cartoon would be great!

  5. I love this, Kevin. I can really get a visual on it. So cool that you have a girrrrrrl rocker who is disturbed by cheesy John Mayer! Rock on, Dude!

  6. It’s funny but when I was about 6 or 7 and we would visit relatives out of the country, I used to think that if I could take a radio from home, I would be able to hear my usual stations.

  7. I find it humorous that you, Tony and I have all written Slices about music in the past 2 days! I love the idea of little people behind the speakers playing the music! It makes me think of when I was little I always imagined there was a little man inside the refrigerator that would turn on and off the light when we opened and closed the door. Hope the idea of the comic or graphic novel comes to life!

  8. If you do decide to do a comic, I hope it is a web comic, I am thinking that at some point The Pop Rocks could go on tour. I can envision a cult following of “Rock Heads” following them from town to town in beat up MiniCoopers.

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