The 6+ Degrees of “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake”

Last night Chad and I went to Pastabilities in Greensboro for dinner, in part because it has excellent Italian food, but mostly to hear our friend Lyn Koonce sing. For the first few songs, we nibbled our pasta and listened. Then Chad said, “You know what song I’d like to hear Lyn sing? ‘Bad Wine and Lemon Cake’.”

Chatting with Lyn about the song after her first set, and about Amanda Palmer (who she hadn’t heard of) and The Dresden Dolls (who she had) and The Jane Austen Argument (who she hadn’t), got me thinking about the long and twisty route that led me to discover The Jane Austen Argument and their song “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” myself, which has been on repeat in a four-song playlist on my iPhone for over a week now.

Back in college, I went to the local comic book shop with friends one day because I had nothing else to do. I kept tagging along after that because it was an excuse to get off campus (and procrastinate from studying for a while).

One day, the guy at the shop showed me a comic called Black Orchid. I bought it because the artwork was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

I started reading Sandman because Black Orchid was only three issues long, I wanted more, and the comic shop guy told me it was written by the same person.

I read Neverwhere because that same person, Neil Gaiman, wrote it, too. By the last page, he had become my favorite writer. (To this day, Neverwhere is still my favorite book. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, but I just finished it again a couple weeks ago.)

I started reading Neil’s blog because I was looking for writing-related blogs to read, and he’s my favorite writer.

I heard of Amanda Palmer for the first time when Neil blogged about working with her on Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

When Neil blogged about the “rebellyon”, I popped over to Amanda’s site out of curiosity and watched the video for “Leeds United” for the first time. (For the record, her label was wrong. She looked fine. Not that she needs me to tell her that. Girl screams self-confidence.)

A few months later, my friend Elizabeth asked Chad and I to go with her to Carnivale at Castle McCullough, and I heard “Leeds United” in a themed dance room that I would never have gone into except Elizabeth dragged us in there because a friend of hers was DJing. It was the only song I recognized, and I bought it on iTunes the next day.

When Neil’s blog posts became fewer and farther in between, I started following him on Twitter, because that’s where he was and I like reading what he writes, even if it’s only 140 characters long.

When he tweeted a link to the video of “Map of Tasmania”, I bought the album Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, because the song was catchy.

Because I bought Goes Down Under, I heard “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” for the first time. And because I fell in love with it, I tracked down The Jane Austen Argument’s site and bought their EP The Birthing Pyre today.

It’s interesting the way things come into our lives. If I’d passed on going to that comic book shop with my friends twenty-some years ago, I would have never discovered my favorite writer, or my favorite book, or some of the best stories I’ve ever read. My own stories wouldn’t even be the same because what we write is influenced by what we read.

And if I hadn’t read Neil Gaiman’s work, I would never have googled him to find his blog, would never have heard of Amanda Palmer, wouldn’t have recognized “Leeds United” that night at Carnivale, wouldn’t have bought it, wouldn’t have followed Neil on Twitter — or likely even be on Twitter, which means I would never have written “Intellectual Property” since I met the folks at Franklin-Christoph via Twitter — wouldn’t have bought Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, wouldn’t have heard “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake”, and would never have played it for Chad, who would never have mentioned it to Lyn, or emailed her a link to the song and the band’s site.

And I would never have written this blog, which means you might never have heard it, too.

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