Monday, January 14, 2013

Musical Monday - In the City by the Eagles

There are some songs that inspire me as a fantasy and science fiction fan or as a role-playing gamer directly because of their content. But there are others that inspire me because of the associations that the song has. The Joe Walsh tune In the City, which was written for and used in the 1979 movie The Warriors is one of those songs.

For anyone who doesn't know, The Warriors is a movie about a gang from Coney Island that sends nine unarmed emissaries to a city-wide meeting of gangs in Van Courtland Park, summoned there by Cyrus, the leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York. Cyrus proposes a permanent city-wide truce between the gangs so that they can take over the city because they outnumber the cops. Unfortunately, Cyrus is killed and the Warriors are blamed for his death. For the rest of the movie, the Warriors struggle to get back to their home turf, contending with several colorful and somewhat improbably attired gangs as they go. Those who are somewhat familiar with the classics might pick up on the fact that several characters bear names like "Cleon" and "Ajax" and and realize that the story is very loosely based on Xenophon's Anabasis, detailing the march of Cyrus' Greek mercenaries as they fought their way out of Asia to the sea.

And it is this transformation from the original classic Greek historical tale to the fictionalized vision of New York gangs, plus the way that a tiny story about nine street kids takes on an epic feel, that makes this movie resonate. And it also informs my gaming and my fiction. If someone can take something like Xenophon's work and rework it this way, then almost anything can become a source of inspiration for one's own stories. And almost anything can become the basis for an epic role-playing game, or be transformed into a modern tale. The lesson here is to always be on the lookout for ideas, because you never know where the seeds may be found.

Subsequent Musical Monday: Baby Got Back by Jonathan Coulton (with Paul & Storm)

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