Music Behind the Story – The Best Medicine

music behind the story

The Best Medicine introduces a character that I absolutely fell in love with. His name is Cullen Fellowes and he’s a rock star. He’s also the younger brother of the romantic lead, Morgan. On their first date, Morgan takes Tanya O’Toole to his sister, Molly’s, restaurant. As it happens, Cullen’s band, Sardonic is performing.

Cullen is one of those rare vocalists who can sing anything and make it sound fantastic. He is handsome and more charming than he’s got a right to be. He will also hit on every woman he meets, simply because that’s how he is. There’s no conversational filter with Cullen. There is no off switch. Open and honest to a fault, he’s sometimes blunt without really meaning to be.

Although they do a lot of covers, everything from blues to industrial metal, Sardonic has their own songs. They needed a signature tune, something that put them on the map. I couldn’t use a real song, so I wrote my own. It’s a sad ballad, full of love and longing, which they use to close their acts. Morgan wrote the lyrics, he and Cullen wrote the melody.

The day after their first date, Morgan tells Tanya to dress warmly, and carts her out to an island where the band has arranged to shoot their first official video—Morgan and Cullen’s song, Heart of Stone. Below is the scene where they perform the song for the video. This time, Morgan is singing with the band. I imagine Cullen sounding like Chris Cornell when he sings this song.

The band was coming out from the makeup trailer. She saw Morgan dressed like an Indian, carrying a guitar. The costumes looked very authentic for local Indian tribes who had lived in these woods a few hundred years ago. Tanya was impressed by the adherence to detail. They took their positions and the director started talking to them, telling them what he wanted them to do.

“The sound quality probably won’t be that great here,” he said. “But we want you really to sing. I can’t stand that lip sync shit, you can always tell when a band doesn’t know what it’s doing. We’ll do a studio recording and lay it in, no one will know the difference. Okay, places everyone!”

The bystanders were instructed to move away from the set and be totally quiet. The band started to play. The lead guitar picked out a simple melody, then added some more sophisticated riffs. The drums crept in under the guitar and the bass entered so subtly, Tanya hardly realized he was playing. The keyboards joined with an echoing chord as the introduction continued for another minute or so.

Once more, Tanya felt herself transported away on the melody, transfixed by the power of it. The vocals started like an eagle’s cry in three part harmony. Tanya didn’t know how they could make that sound, but it lanced her heart like a knife, leaving her gasping. Cullen’s voice rose above the melody, swelling, formless and wordless. Morgan’s harmony wound in and around, gradually becoming words.

“In the twilight of my days, I walk alone in endless night. Trapped among these memories, All alone I fight. I can’t find the light no more, Your darkness clouds my ways. You’re just another memory, That fades into the haze.

“Then why should I stay here, When I’m so all alone? I’m leaving now—I’m leaving, Can’t break a heart of stone.”

Tanya was in tears before the first chorus ended. The instrumental picked up again, winding around her like a shroud of sorrow. She felt a comforting arm around her and looked up into Molly’s careworn face. She had tears in her eyes too. In fact, when Tanya glanced around at the assembly, there were hardly any dry eyes to be seen. Cullen’s voice crept back in, picking up the vocal, crooning sorrowfully.

“So now in my misery, I face the world alone. Nothing seems to matter, Can’t break a heart of stone. The blood flows thickly from my veins, but I can’t seem to care. It’s flowing like a river, and pooling round the chair.

“Then why should I stay here, When I’m so all alone? I’m leaving now—I’m leaving, Can’t break a heart of stone.

“Did you ever love me? I don’t believe it’s true. I used to think I loved you, But God knows if I do. As eagles cry unto the sun, As wind cries to the sky, So my heart pours out its pain, This is my last good bye.

“Then why should I stay here, When I’m so all alone? I’m leaving now—I’m leaving, Can’t break a heart of stone.”

The song wound to a close and the band stopped playing. There was absolute silence. No one spoke, hardly anyone breathed. Even the sounds around them seemed strangely muted. The cameras were still rolling when someone started to clap. First one pair of hands, then three, then many, until the woods echoed with it, sending it reverberating back like a counterpoint to the fading strands of the song. The director broke the spell by saying “Cut,” but it took awhile for the camera people to respond.

“Jesus,” Tanya heard the director whisper to the sound man, as he wiped his eyes on his sleeve. “They never sang it like that in rehearsal! I can’t top that, no matter what I do. That was perfect!” He raised his voice. “Take a short break, people!” He turned to his cameraman. “I want to see a playback of that. Was the sound okay, Smitty?”

The sound man shrugged and nodded. “We could tweak the instrumentals a little in the studio, but I don’t think we can top that vocal. It was wicked awesome, Ted.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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