When I was developing the character of Daniel Wright, I knew he was a regular small town guy with a big truck who loved football, rodeo, and above all, his friends, girlfriend, and family. I also knew he loved country music. One challenge for writers is that using copyrighted music lyrics in a novel costs a lot of money. For example, my use of the lyrics from the Beatles’ song “Blackbird” in my novel Stealing Air cost me over $2,000. But I respect the Beatles. I couldn’t think of any country music stars I respected enough to pay for their lyrics. My solution was to create Hank McGrew, Danny Wright’s favorite country music singer and the personality behind the digi-assistant on Wright’s COMMPAD.
For the Divided We Fall audiobook, my producer and I both wanted full music treatment for the Hank McGrew songs. I knew how the songs were supposed to sound, but I knew nothing about writing music, so I sang the songs without any instruments, recording them on my computer. I sent them to an old friend of mine with whom I served in the war in Afghanistan. JT Thompson is a heck of a performer. He’s great on guitar. Some nights on our little base in Afghanistan, when we were off duty, he’d sit on the porch behind our barracks and play great music that always reminded me of home. When I asked him if he could come up with some guitars and percussion for my Hank McGrew songs, he gladly took on the challenge. Old soldiers are like that, I guess. Although Jack Sundred ultimately provides the voice of Hank McGrew, it’s my old war buddy JT Thompson who brings the real music to Hank McGrew’s songs. You can have a listen to clips of some of Hank McGrew’s music here.
Friday Night Lights