Behind the Music
I fell in love with Alex Lambert the first time I heard him sing on American Idol. No, not Adam, Alex. That sexy, raspy voice and those innocent, boyish looks won me over instantly. Although he didn’t make it past the top 20 on American Idol 9, he went on to co-star in the reality series, If I Can Dream, where he continued to write and perform original songs, including I Didn’t Know, Imperfectly Perfect, Dream With My Eyes Open, and Butterflies.
During his time on If I Can Dream, Alex filmed a music video in New York City for I Didn’t Know. In the video, he plays several street pianos located in various spots throughout the city. If you look closely, you’ll see that many of the pianos bear the phrase “Play Me, I’m Yours.” This piqued my interest, and being the Googlopath that I am, I investigated further.
I learned that the “Play Me, I’m Yours” street piano project is an urban artwork project that has been touring internationally since 2008. Participating cities recruit local artists to decorate pianos, which are placed in public locations for anyone to play and enjoy. Each host city has its own website where people are encouraged to upload pictures, videos, and stories of their interaction with the pianos.
When I saw the picture of Cyndi Lauper performing on a street piano in Times Square, the story I had rattling around in my head clicked right into place. In the novel, seventeen-year-old Lucas is a gifted pianist. He doesn’t have a real piano at home, so his ears perk up when his music teacher mentions the street piano project. He can hardly believe it when he sees the picture of Cyndi on the flyer—she’s his musical idol! The opening scene of the novel reveals Lucas’s reaction to seeing one of these pianos at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Be-bop-a-lu-she-bop!
Music is a big part of Lucas’s everyday life. It’s the thing he loves most and his only means of escape from the cruelty and loneliness he experiences at school, and to a lesser extent, at home. He plays often, so there are several songs and classical pieces referenced in the novel. Each of the pop songs was chosen for a special reason, with lyrics related to homophobia, sexual awakening, and self-acceptance. If I had to choose one as a theme song, and yes, it would literally be a theme song, it would be Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”.
You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Lucas enjoys playing pop songs for the fun of it, but he also has a deep love and appreciation for classical music. Just as the pop songs in the novel were chosen with purpose, so too were all of the classical pieces. They were selected not only for the meanings of their titles, but also for their emotional impact. I hope at least a few readers will take the time to listen to the classical pieces as they encounter them in the novel:
- Liebesträume (Dreams of Love) by Franz Liszt
- Träumerei (Dreaming) by Robert Schumann
- Beethoven Sonata Pathétique No. 8 in C minor op. 13 – I. Grave. Allegro di molto e con brio
- Beethoven Sonata Pathétique No. 8 in C minor op. 13 – II. Adagio cantabile
- Beethoven Sonata Pathétique No. 8 in C minor op. 13 – III. Rondo. Allegro
Isn’t Freddy Kempf AH-MA-ZING (see the Beethoven video links above)? There’s so much emotion in his face and body movements while he plays. It is truly awe-inspiring. I imagine Lucas looks the same way while he plays. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Play Me, I’m Yours and share in Lucas’s musical journey. I’ve created a track list with links to videos and lyrics on my website. As the talented Billy Joel (aka “The Piano Man”) wrote, “We’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feeling all right.”
Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. His one comfort in life is his music; he feels unloved by everyone. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.
Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.
Click here to read the first chapter.
Visit Madison Parker’s Website at www.madisonparklove.com for bonus materials including character sketches, piano covers, music videos, and lyrics for songs referenced in the novel.
To celebrate the release of Play Me, I’m Yours, Madison Parker is hosting a giveaway. Enter to win your choice of a free copy of Play Me, I’m Yours or a $10 gift certificate from Rainbow eBooks by leaving a comment below along with your email address. For multiple chances to win, comment at each stop along the tour. Click here for the complete tour schedule. Winners will be chosen randomly on April 23.