NPR, GalleyCat, Fountains Of Wayne Dig My Dragon Tattoo Video

I made a small music video about the Book of 2010, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Within a few days of putting it online, folks started talking it up on the internet—like, critics and stuff.

Linda Holmes of NPR called it “delightful,” while the must-read publishing blog GalleyCat called it “a loving parody” and Alan Sepinwall of the HitFix blog, What’s Alan Watching? tweeted “Love this Fountains of Wayne/Stieg Larsson mash-up.” Even Fountains of Wayne gave me a shout-out, showing the video on their website, which was both amazing and humbling.

All of that is pretty cool considering the video’s a hobby project that got out of control. Here’s the video:

BEHIND THE MUSIC (THAT I DIDN’T WRITE)

I was driving home late one night in July from one of my library programs when Fountains of Wayne’s song, “Red Dragon Tattoo” from the classic 1999 album, Utopia Parkway, popped into my head. Since I had read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo recently, it didn’t take long before I shoved two Tattoos together and started rewriting the song to pass the time. When I got home, I tried singing a few funny lines to my wife. As you may have noticed from the video, I’m no Freddy Mercury; sung a cappella, the new words only garnered a raised eyebrow.

In the days that followed, however, the idea kept coming back; I’d see someone reading the book on the train and inevitably, the song would start playing in my head. I had to hear my parody song for real! Soon, I decided to use some audio software to remove the vocals from “Red Dragon Tattoo,” turning it into a karaoke track so I could finally sing my version to my extremely patient wife and show her how brilliant I was.

Um, yeah. So brilliant that I had somehow ignored the fact that there’s a lot more syllables in the phrase “Girl with the” than in the word “Red.” There was no way to make my lyrics fit with the real track; if I was ever going to hear them with the song, I’d have to re-record the tune—so I did.

I used Apple’s Garageband program to record my cheap-but-effective Xaviere XV-700 guitar; aged-but-awesome Ovation Elite acoustic; tiny Akai LPK25 MIDI keyboard; and for the solos, a vintage, circa-1984 Sequential Circuits Six-Trak synthesizer that gets pulled out of my attic once every two years. I even threw caution to the wind and recorded priceless memorabilia from the band Too Much Joy’s final gig: a kiddie tambourine with a sticker on it that reads “20 F—— Years.” Priceless I tell you.

I don’t play any of these instruments well, of course, but what I lack in ability, I make up for in blind—or in this case, deaf—enthusiasm. I figured it’d take an afternoon to hash it out.

After recording for a few weeks, I had put so much effort into what was supposed to be a quick, throwaway project that I had to share the result with the world, if only to rationalize to myself that I hadn’t completely wasted a month’s worth of precious, non-existent free time.

When I showed the final result to my wife, she laughed a lot and was impressed. I beamed. Kind words from NPR and GalleyCat since then have been wonderful, but for me, those laughs were Grammy and Oscar Awards rolled into one.

And now you’ve heard and seen it too—thank you and I hope you enjoyed it.