How Do You Title a Book?

Posted: September 9, 2011 in Offbeat Seattle-Related Music Stories

I don’t fucking know.  But I thought I’d share how the title process for The Strangest Tribe evolved.

My first working title was Living in the Moment of It, which was inspired by a quote from TAD’s Tad Doyle.  I dropped that after I realized my book covered a fifteen year period…a long “moment.”

Briefly I toyed with Connections, given the often insectuous musical relationships the Seattle scene has displayed over the years.  But, that title seemed too generic, so…

Invitation to Participate, from a quote by Beat Happening’s Bret Lunsford.  I ditched that after it seemed a bit too flowery.

They Must Be Musicians, from a quote by the Thrown Ups’ Leighton Beezer.  This became the book’s working title for a while.  I liked it because it was meant to be taken sarcastically, knowing most people would take it at face value.  Very Seattle.  The people that marketed my book, however, believed this title would not work, so we kicked around a bunch of stuff before settling on The Strangest Tribe such as:

Where’s the Rage?  From another Beezer quote, which makes fun of a 1993 TIME magazine cover displaying Eddie Vedder screaming into a microphone accompanied by the caption “All the Rage!”

Raising Cain.  A fictional southern rock band created by the U-Men while they were touring down in Texas.  Cain had a “hit” with “God, Guns, Guts and Glory!”

House of Squalor.  The nickname of a band house where Love Battery’s Kevin Whitworth lived.  Kevin said it got it’s name because Skin Yard’s Daniel House encouraged visiting bands to “stay at Kevin’s house,” thus resulting in the said squalor.

Ahead of the Storm.  Doesn’t make a whole lot sense for a title, but I like the way it sounds.  It’s a song title from the Walkabouts.

Wasted Landlords.  Mark Arm’s side project that made fun of a band called Lords of the Wasteland, a group that became Mother Love Bone, a Pearl Jam precursor. (MLB also spawned a parody band called Daddy Hate Box.)

Amazes Me, the Will of Instinct.  From Nirvana’s “Polly.”  Makes absolutely no sense for a title, but I just love the song…so there you go.

The Squid Row.  A small now-defunct club in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Everyone played there back in the day.

The North End.  In honor of the neighborhood which created Seattle’s punk rock scene.

So, we went with The Strangest Tribe, from a  PJ song, at the publisher’s suggestion.  I admit I didn’t like it much at first, but it has grown on me.  I remember calling Leighton Beezer when the final title was decided.  He suggested we call it The Dumbest Club.  Very Seattle.

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