What’s in a Name

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine February 2019

Every morning when I wake up, before clapping my hands together and jumping out, I lay in bed and think about things…things I have to do that day, things I don’t want to do that day, things I’m dreading that day, and maybe a thing or two I’m looking forward to that day.  Or sometimes I have a melody in my head and I play with lyrics, think about verses and choruses and possible bridges, all of course to prolong the actual act of clapping my hands together and jumping out.

Or I lay there thinking about why I just had a dream about a coyote at my window who’s got a face like one of those monkeys from the Wizard of Oz and he’s just looking at me, daring me to get up and go outside, when I realize that the reason I woke up in the first place was because I heard a pack of coyotes howling in the distance.

And sometimes I lay there thinking I better hurry up and get up before everybody else so I can have some peace and get things done.  Not like that time my daughter was four or five and she got up early and I was kind of upset about it.  Out of the mouths of babes, she cried, “Mommy… you’re acting like you don’t want me to be awake!”  Ugh! Horrible Mothering 101 right there.

Anyways, on this particular morning, as I lay here, I am thinking about the actual act of laying here and pondering what on earth could have ever possessed a band to name themselves the worst band name that ever was and ever shall be.  Picking a name for your band, though hard work and an agonizing back and forth on the prospects of marketability, name recognition, logo building, memorability and so forth, I think any of us could have done better naming their band than the one I’m going to tell you about.

I understand teenage angst, anger at the atrocities of the world and the unique opportunity musicians have to make political and socially conscious points.  But my god, some band names really do have to go.

The band name I speak of is the catchy, depressing, unforgettable I suppose:  “AS I LAY DYING.”  Yes, the heavy metal band named themselves after the 1930 novel by William Faulkner of the same name.  Though a critically acclaimed book and the dude eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the band itself has a Grammy nomination under their belt, this band name has always particularly bothered me.  I mean, to each his own and whatnot, but please, why so depressing?  Music is life.  Music is joy.  Come on man!  In my humble opinion, some of the best band names out there are clever, have special meaning to the band members, or refer to an abstract concept the band members believe in, or give homage to a special location in their lives, or is an artful combination of their own names, and so on.  But please, I know the heavy metal genre is all about kicking butt and such, and this band’s name has obviously worked out for them, but really, I just don’t like it!

Every morning we have a choice I guess – lay there thinking about good things and actually getting up, or lay there dying, or lay there thinking about band names so you can write a column for a music magazine.  Or lay there thinking about coyotes with monkey faces.  The choice is ours.  Now, time to clap my hands.