I was driving to work this morning when Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” popped up on my playlist. For some reason, one of the lines stuck in my head as something other than the usual bubblegum pop-metal Sweet is known for and I started building a scene in my head based on the lyrics to the song. That started me down the dark path of thinking about how other songs could show scenes that they weren’t necessarily intending to show. Some songs are pretty obvious: Bowie’s Major Tom and all the variants and songs about him tell a story of an astronaut slipping the surly bonds of Earth. Mike + The Mechanics did similar stuff with “Silent Running”, telling a story of a world falling to dictatorship. Roger Waters has made a career out telling a story through an entire album. But it was a particular line in “Ballroom Blitz” that built a much darker scene than Chinn and Chapman likely had in mind when they wrote the song.
So, as an exercise, I decided to see if I could take some other songs and build new scenes off the lyrics. Not all of ’em are winners, but there are a few gems scattered here and there. Most of ’em should be pretty obvious, but there might be a couple you haven’t come across.
The Marine lay dying on the floor. Blood leaked from his torn parade uniform and pooled on the floor under his prone body.
“What happened, son?” General Modine asked as he applied pressure to the young man’s chest.
“It was a trap sir,” the young Marine replied. He turned his head and winced as he coughed up a spray of blood. “The man in the back said, ‘Everyone attack!’. It turned into a ballroom blitz.”
Noboru was proud warrior, the last of his line after the near disastrous rout at the hands of the Hakama clan’s dark wizards. He knelt in front of the supreme overlord, his head bent forward exposing his neck that he might be spared the dishonor he had brought up his clan. The overlord’s mechanicals clicked and whirred, a sure sign of his displeasure. Noboru only hoped it would end quickly.
“For your bravery,” the overlord intoned in a voice filled with the ticking of his gear-like body, “you are promoted to field marshal. You may see the fight as a failure, but you saved the lives of your comrades. Rise Marshal Noboru, that my realm may see what a warrior looks like.”
Noburu’s mind whirled as he stood. He had expected death, had convinced himself to welcome it. Instead, he had to learn to convince himself he hadn’t failed. The overlord’s glass eyes stared at him without emotion, but a hint of smile formed on his rubber lips.
Noboru bowed his head to hide both his shame and his relief. “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,” he whispered.
All around them the desert cracked and blew in waves of dust. Her lips were dry and cracked, eyes sunken in her head. She felt like she was inches from joining the sand. His smile was the last thing she expected to see.
His skin was little more than a thin parchment stretched over a skull, but even though his lips were split, he smiled and said, “You look like rain.”
“Good morning world! Well, what’s left of it, anyway. There are reports of mutants swarming Central, so be sure to avoid the university area this morning. Also, Drox says he has water, but he’s lied before. Let’s be careful out there today. This is the last radio station on Earth and we’re getting ready to play the complete Supersuckers catalog because, man, this sure does suck. You’re listening to the last bit of civilization on the planet and I’m coming at you live from a Mexican radio.”
Sergeant McClaine thought he’d seen it all, but this was horrifying. He couldn’t even tell where her body began and ended. As usual, he buried it deep in his psyche and fought to dig up a witty response. His normal flippancy fled when the bile rose in his stomach and all he could come up with was a lame play on words. “Well,” he said. “She was pretty. Now she’s just pretty fucked up.”
Your turn. Drop ’em in the comments. If anyone’s interested, I can put up a list of the songs I used.