The Boy Who Wanted to Rock
Written by music industry veteran David Weiser for his five-year-old son, The Boy Who Wanted to Rock takes readers on a musical journey that encourages children to learn the ropes...and swing from the ceiling! Guided by a cast of helpful and unlikely creatures, a young boy discovers that his inner monster is the key to learning -- and enjoying -- music. Beautifully illustrated by longtime friend and fellow musician Derek Lavoie, the story is a tribute to the inner child that sustains every rock 'n roller.
The Story Behind the Rock
When our son Arlen was born, we started playing music for him pretty much straight away. From the outset, my wife and I were struck by his strong reactions to certain music, and by how swiftly those reactions solidified into strong preferences. As we fed him a steady diet of Bowie, Prince, The Kinks, Buddy Guy, assorted Broadway, and film music, all of which he loves to this day, we noticed a funny thing: any time a bit of harder rock happened to
seep in, like the odd AC/DC tune in the midst of a mostly-Queen playlist, he would drop his toys, plant himself directly in front of the speakers, and he'd dance and shriek with delight. When the song ended, we were often faced with tears and pleas for more. Nature was ready to upstage nurture from the beginning!
The idea for the book came about while I was working abroad on a theater show, with a fair bit of downtime. Before leaving, I'd been helping Arlen as he made first contact with a few instruments: keyboards and synthesizers, guitar, and a variety of tuned percussion instruments. It did not always go well. His intense love of music was matched by an equally intense desire for immediate results. This combination often led to an oversized helping of frustration.
I came up with two strategies to help cope with that frustration. The first was to invent over-the-top stories, tall tales of the anguish and vexation felt by some of his musical heroes when they first tried learning an instrument. To this day, Arlen still plays along and feigns belief that Freddie King's first guitar is on the moon, hurled there in a fit of rage. And he still loves to ask, "Daddy, how angry did [insert rock star] get when they were a kid learning to play music?" (One of our companion songs expands on this theme.)
The second strategy was to write a short rhyming story that would be similar in many ways to his favorite picture books. My initial vision was for the book to encourage practice and stick-to-it-iveness, enshrining the many virtues of delayed gratification.
Mercifully, I came to my senses and abandoned that idea as utter nonsense. It dawned on me that our boy's innocence and earnestness fueled a kind of rock power, that unnamed spark of creative joy that many of us in the music industry have chased in practice spaces and recording studios for decades. He is Thoreau's "childlike mirthfulness" come to life. He dances like there's no one watching; he doesn't know any other way. He sings with abandon, and sometimes, he roars. In the end, I thought that if he learns something from the book, wonderful, but above all else, I wanted this book to help ensure that he never forgets how to roar.
About The Author
David Weiser has worked as a keyboard programmer with numerous Broadway, West End, touring and televised musicals, including NBC's 2018 Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Les Misérables. His credits also include work with artists like David Bowie, The Who, and Brian Wilson. David lives outside of Boston with his wife, son, and a few goblins hanging about in the basement.
About The Illustrator
Derek Lavoie is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer whose work has appeared in a variety of places, from fine art magazines to the Team USA Olympic Luge race suit. He studied illustration at Mass College of Art in Boston, and now resides with his wife and son in upstate New York. When he's not drawing or painting, Derek can often be found tearing up local club gigs on bass!