4 Tracks: Erik Didriksen

As part of our music-themed month on the blog, we’ve been asking our authors to talk us through four songs that have in some way shaped their writing. Erik Didriksen, whose Pop Sonnets blog sent the Internet into throes of mirth, is publishing a collection of his musical verse with 4th Estate this autumn. Here he talks us through four songs that just begged for an Elizabethan makeover…

Spin Doctors, ‘Two Princes’ (Epic)

I’ve been obsessed with music as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of staying up past my bedtime, listening to pop stations on a radio hidden under my pillow. I’d be up for hours after my parents tucked me in, only tuning out when my brother came up the stairs. There were several songs I’d listen for — Ace of Base’s ‘The Sign’, 4 Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Up’ – but none were as singular as the Spin Doctors’ ‘Two Princes’. It’s still one of my favorite songs, and I still haven’t outgrown the habit of staying up too late listening to music.

Weezer, ‘Buddy Holly’ (Geffen)

I was a stereotypical nerd as a kid: undersized, bookish, and obsessed with Star Trek. It was only appropriate my first musical epiphany came from digging around the Windows 95 install CD. The ‘Buddy Holly’ video was included as a graphics card demo, but it wasn’t the image quality that captivated me. Here was a band celebrating their own nerdiness! I was floored. The bigger shock, though, was my older brother – my polar opposite: tall, athletic, and effortlessly cool – pulling their CD from his collection and telling me I could borrow it. It was the moment I learned being a geek and being cool were not mutually exclusive. That CD remains the only one I’ve ever worn out.


Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Call Me Maybe’ (Interscope)

I developed an unhealthy obsession with ‘Call Me Maybe’ when it was first released, despite my proclivities away from modern pop and toward fuzzy indie and psychedelic rock. I still can’t place what makes it so infectious or addictive; I just know I’m still caught on its shimmering hooks. So I’ll admit there’s a lie in the apocryphal Pop Sonnets origin story: when I read Jonny’s re-imagining of Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’, my first thought wasn’t I need to see more of these; it was very specifically I need to see a ‘Call Me Maybe’ sonnet. Truth is, there’d be no Pop Sonnets – book or blog – without Carly Rae Jepsen.

Bruce Springsteen, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ (Columbia)

I was born and raised in New Jersey, where a love of Springsteen is practically issued with your birth certificate. Ever the contrarian, I wasn’t a fan for years; while I never disliked The Boss, I didn’t understand the devotion he earned. That all changed in the last few years. His records suddenly became mirrors, each song bringing a piece of my life into clear focus. I longed for the open road to ‘Born to Run’, found redemption in ‘Backstreets’, and exulted in the sheer joy of ‘Rosalita’. I chose ‘Dancing in the Dark’ to be a sonnet because it was his biggest hit, but I soon discovered it’d become my writing anthem. It’s as much a paean to inspiration as a joyful plea to a dance partner. (I’ll even admit there were moments of creative frustration when I strongly identified with the line “I’m sick’a sittin’ ’round here, tryin’a write this book!”)’

Words by Erik Didriksen.

Pop Sonnets will be published 8th October 2015.

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