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Letter from the Editor

Vallie Lynn Watson


Last summer, I saw the best concert of my life, at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. The band was Sparks, who originated in 1971; it remains painful to me that I did not discover Sparks until 2015. And there is a part of me that holds their music so sacred that I want to share it and shield it, to put their music in a tightly locked, heart-shaped box. They are that precious to me.

Sparks not only facilitated my return to music, but also my return to writing. A little over a decade ago, I lost my father and my two elderly dogs within a very short period. I didn’t realize until much later that during this time, I, an absolute lover of music, stopped actively listening. I still turned on the car radio, but I didn’t seek out my favorites, didn’t explore new music, didn’t listen at home.

Late one afternoon in the fall of 2015, while half-watching one of my favorite television shows, I heard a song cue up a scene I already knew well, but this time something hit differently, and the music dove headfirst in my heart until the only thing I could see or feel was the sound. I rewound and rewatched the scene a few times, then looked up the lyrics. The internet identified the song and unknown-to-me band, and by that evening, after listening to a couple of albums, my crush on Sparks was starting to . . . spark.

Fast forward a few years, and the love affair had fully bloomed; Sparks was permanently engraved in technicolor upon my heart. They brightened the days, months, and years of the pandemic. They accompanied me on cross-country road trips and beach walks. They became the peppy, hopeful soundtrack to my nine-month job search last year, and then they became the in-person celebration at the end of that long year, a trip to see their Manhattan show about a month after I got the delightful offer to teach fiction writing in the MFA program at McNeese State University.

Guess what I didn’t do during that long year of job applications? Write fiction! I wanted to, I had ideas, but I didn’t have time between teaching, searching for jobs, writing cover letters, etc. And then, when the new job began and I had more time, guess what I struggled to do? Write fiction.

Late one afternoon last fall, I was bemoaning my writer’s block when Sparks’ “My Baby’s Taking Me Home” shuffled on. “My Baby . . .” is one of my top-three Sparks’ favorites, and was the penultimate song played at their Beacon Theatre show. Soon, its “Bolero”-like repetition lulled me into a trance, and a story started to form in my head, and I opened my laptop and started typing, and before I next stood up, I’d written a tiny piece inspired by the song.

A few days later, I penned another small piece of writing, inspired by another song from that concert setlist. Now, it’s a few months later, and I have amassed almost ten more of these little Sparks-sparked stories, and intend to spend my summer finishing up the collection, one story for each of their songs from that show.

It was a no-brainer, then, to choose “My Baby . . .” as my song for the Boudin music issue playlist. Since the Sparks’ concert last summer, I have spent at least a few minutes every day, in my head, back at the Beacon. Sparks have twice provided the life lesson that my art matters, and I hope that the art that blooms from this issue of Boudin brings you even a sliver of the joy that Sparks have brought me. 


I sometimes wonder how my world would be different, had Sparks not entered my life at the precise moment they did. What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen in a blink of an eye and be gone from me.


Playlist song: Sparks, “My Baby’s Taking Me Home”


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