"Rock & Roll Nightmares: Along Comes Scary: '60s Edition" Book Review
Written by Sean M. Sanford
Published by Excessive Nuance
Edited by Staci Layne Wilson
2021, 245 pages, Fiction
Released on July 10th, 2021
When I saw that Rock & Roll Nightmares: Along Comes Scary: '60s Edition was orchestrated by Staci Layne Wilson, visions from my youth tsunami’d; one memory holding prominent sway…
My heart moshed as the curtains spread. An applause engulfed, thunderous. The four of us stood, behind instruments, microphones, ready to unleash, get discovered; all that kinda shit. This was going to be our longest set yet. Our entire catalog of songs was revealed to this audience of young revelers. We weren’t headlining that day, but it was only a matter of time. The summer was upon us, and we were playing an afternoon show to welcome our newfound freedom from the confines of high school. I imagined this being the first show of our tour, an epic launch pad for life on the road, gifted to all the future fans at 7 Hills Elementary School. It was an anti-drug show, so we only smoked a little bit of doobie dust before taking the stage.
We’d been asked, by our friend Joanna, to dedicate a song to her younger sister. Joanna was slotted to play after us with our other friend Josh. Robb, our bass player, stepped up to the mic. “We’re Another Red Herring. This song is for Emily. You’re an angel, kid.” To which the crowd assailed us with enthusiastic laughter. We busted into a cover of "Walk Don’t Run" by The Ventures. We were a surf band after all. Well, surfish. We even had a song called "Surfish Sweet". Thing was, as enthusiastic as we’d been to play that amazing song, we’d only practiced it a few times. More specifically, we’d never practiced exactly when and how it ended. As we approached the third movement, we began exchanging puzzled looks. Our future was a mystery.
Suffice it to say we clamored our way through chaos before fizzling out to a raucous and brief, outro that resembled cans being dragged behind a car as it choked to a halt.
That was the extent of my musical career, and thinking about it now still warms my forehead in pitiful dismay.
This memory was also my initial glimpse of horror when I began reading Along Comes Scary and realized that its curator and prominent contributor was Staci Layne Wilson; daughter to Don Wilson, one of the founding members of The Ventures. The crows had come home to roost.
As I read the stories though, I was thankfully able to let said flashback remain in the dust. This collection is the perfect read for escaping mental humdrum.
The collection of stories therein are all themed after rock & roll and its lifestyle in the ‘60s. Stories like Staci Layne Wilson’s own "Papa’s Got a Brand New Body Bag", in which a young man and his sister, whose family owns a mortuary, steal the corpse of a legendary rock musician to take to a party down the street. Turns out some rock gods don’t appreciate post-mortem fandom, and his ghost makes this quite clear.
Or "California Screamin" by Renee Mallet. Where Winston Wardley, an aging ex-rock star, gets an interview. The only catch is they’re recording it at an allegedly haunted hotel, so there’s that. Also, the rock journalist doing the story is a kid writing for his school newspaper. Winston eventually finds out that at such a hotel nothing – and no one – is quite what it seems.
The story titles are horror-fied puns of old ‘60s tunes, and just reading the contents page made me guffaw.
I wouldn’t be waving my lighter to all the stories, but a few of them really grabbed me, like "Eye Can’t Get No Satisfaction" by Staci Layne Wilson. Even the ones I didn’t love are entertaining. It’s a very fun albeit not all that scary compilation. There are all the wonderful gory elements of horror here, beneath a backdrop of old-school rock & roll.
Rock & Roll Nightmares: Along Comes Scary: '60s Edition also helped me rest my skeleton of butchering one of the sexiest and most influential surf songs ever played. Everyone else involved had clearly gotten over it long ago: Robb now plays in various bands in and around San Francisco on the regular; Josh, who was playing with Joanna, now tours every year playing cello for a famous singer; and Joanna has become a quite successful singer/songwriter herself. I’ve considered asking her to go tit-for-tat in dedicating a song to my own sister, but I feel she has yet to forgive me for tarnishing her sister’s good faith in song dedications.
Sorry, Emily. I hereby dedicate this review to you.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.