The New York Times is reporting that Ghost Brothers of Darkland Country, the long-awaited musical being created by Stephen King and John Mellencamp, has been postponed. Somehow, I missed out on the fact that this play was in the works. King and Mellencamp working on a musical? My anti-musical self shudders at the thought, but the description — "a sultry Southern Gothic mystery with a blues-tinged, guitar-driven score" — actually makes the concept sort of interesting.
I've been a fan of King for many years. Horror was never particularly my genre so when King had his first big explosion of popularity during the Carrie era, I ignored the whole thing. Many years later, a co-worker turned me on to the book Thinner. That was it. I was hooked. Part of the appeal of his writing is that he can make these incredible absurdities seem absolutely believable. For me, the creep factor is enhanced by the fact that many of the locales King describes are real locations from King stomping grounds of Bangor, Maine. The "slice of pie" scene near the end of Thinner takes place in a park that's right behind my friend Gene's parents' house. I've been there. Weird!
I came to Mellencamp late in the game as well, but for slightly different reasons. I didn't ignore him. No, I detested him. Back in college, everybody seemed to have a copy of American Fool. Man, I freaking hated "Jack and Diane." I just couldn't see what the fuss was all about. At the time, the most entertainment value I could get was a hearty chuckle: a buddy of mine used to refer to him as "John Cougar Menstrual Cramp." Oh yeah, that's some sophisticated college humor right there. Duh. Mellencamp's Scarecrow is what finally did it for me. From the folky "Small Town" to Kenny Aronoff's monster drumming on "Rain On The Scarecrow," this collection just won me over. And… it was really fun to play at insanely high volumes.
After putting more thought into it, this musical thing does make perfect sense. King does have his own sense of the Gothic, and he's also a huge fan of big, loud classic rock. One of those late nights back in the early '80s, me and Gene were walking around the hills of Bangor in the middle of a snowstorm. Not long after passing the standpipe (the one that played a part in It) we started to hear a muffled but insistent thumping noise. It grew louder and louder, peaking when a van slowly passed us. It almost came to a complete stop a few yards later and then turned through a wrought iron gate and into the driveway of a big Victorian house — Stephen King's house. Man, he must have had the music in that van cranked to eleven because it was pretty damned loud, not discouraged one bit by the heavy snow falling all around us. Dang, I wish I could remember what song was playing.