Writing songs with Bite

I’ve been asked to write some songs for Turnstyle, a little company of thespian bods including my brother. He’s had the ridiculous concept of a panto including a vampire. I am supplying awful puns, garlic jokes, and hopefully tuneful ditties to sing along with.

The only problem I face is the character and history of the vampire. Count Dracula (or Count Wampyr as he would have been in Bram Stoker’s earlier notes) is a deliberate excommunicant. He intentionally sets aside his Christian faith to pursue other aims. In fact, he is not able to deal with Christian symbolism or symbols.

In literature, the vampire has been presented more recently as a vicious blood-sucking thug with a human side. In original tales, the vampire was more human and less thug, but with the need for human blood still prevalent in the darker aspects of their character.

This is a worrying set of values and images for a Christian to deal with, surely?

I feel (and so does my Christian brother) that the story need not be a total disaster in terms of moral and spiritual corruption. I am unlikely to suddenly develop a taste for blood just because I am currently reading Dracula as source material. What many forget is that despite the undead (implied immortal) nature of the Count, he ends up defeated in the book and in the myriad film representations which it has spawned. In fact, there are no tales of vampires taking over the world. We like a narrative where the normal human wins. Whether it is by strength of character, human cunning, religious weaponry (see the film Van Helsing for comic but adrenaline pumping reference) we see the vampire defeated and if not killed (you can’t kill people in a panto!) at least defeated, banished, vanquished, or otherwise disposed of.

So, with a little care, I think I’ll be OK, and not too displeased with the result. Just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean my entire output has to be overtly Christian. That fact that I have Christ in me allows me to write material which will poke some minor holes in this legend of evil incarnate, and possibly poke a lot of fun too. Hurrah!

Better get it right though, the stakes are high.


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