The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Musical Interlude – “Song of an Unsung Hero”

Song of an Unsung Hero: an 80s New Wave Inspired Song

In The Thirteenth Hour, “Song of an Unsung Hero” is the name of the second half of the book. The name comes from a poem featured in the story about a person who has returned from a long and dangerous quest, successful, but battered and weary, and narrates his inner thoughts while he’s being honored for his success. However, he doesn’t really want accolades. He’s lost something precious in the interim, and no honors or medals will exactly fill the void. He also finds himself thinking that people at the celebration ironically seem more excited than he does – they’re at the party to eat, drink, and be merry – but the real reason for the gala seems lost on them. He feels a bit bitter, self-absorbed, and self-righteous, thinking that, but can’t entirely help it and leaves the celebration alone.

Both the poem and song get at the separation that people sometimes feel after they’ve done something difficult (e.g. returning home from war or some other traumatic situation) and are dealing with the culture shock of not entirely knowing how to relate to the world they once knew in the same way they did before.

The book touches on this theme tangentially, since the main character, Logan, chooses to deal with these feelings in his own lighthearted way, but writing the music to the song allowed me to delve into it further. I thought the somber, introspective nature of the song would fit an 80s new wave emo-style song, like the kinds done by bands like New Order, Fiction Factory, Anything Box, and Tears for Fears.

Though I originally wrote the song with the chords below, I played in the key of C on the track, so if you’d like to play along on the guitar, capo up 1 to transpose these chords up 1/2 step.

B                      A

I saw the world today.

B                                       Esus2

A thousand faces laughing through me.

B                               A

The celebration planned for me,

B                        Esus2

All forgotten instantly.



After all I did and gave

B                                    A

I’m still outside in the rain.


B                     A

Outside, looking in.

B                                      Esus2

Don’t want to leave, can’t bear to stay.

B                         A

Who am I?  Who can I be?

B                              Esus2

I don’t know; no one to blame.



So I turned, looked at the ground,

B                              A

Walking away, without a sound.


C#m                        A

And the way isn’t lighted, nor are the stars

C#m                                  F#m     B   A   B   A

All alone here, here in the dark.


B                A

No, I’m not sad.

B                                    Esus2

I realize this was meant to be.


But where can I go?

And what do I say

B                                   Esus2

To those that helped along the way?



And I’m turning, looking at the ground,

B                                A

Walking away, without a sound.

Esus2                      C#m

After all I did and gave

B                                 A

I’m still outside in the rain.

Esus2                                        C#m

And I’m turning, looking at the ground,

B                               A

Walking away, without a sound.

Esus2                        C#m                B

Who will speak my name, sing for me?

A                   A

My song to sing, sing for me,

E        A       E

My song to sing.


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You can find this song as well as other songs written and recorded for The Thirteenth Hour soundtrack in high fidelity here.

Thanks for listening!



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Memorial Day Tribute Passages from The Thirteenth Hour

In honor of Memorial Day (in the US), generally celebrated with picnics, hot dogs, and parades, I thought I’d share a few passages from The Thirteenth Hour that get at the more somber meaning of the holiday – a time to remember those who have served their nation that aren’t with us anymore.  

One of the nice things about fiction, I think, is that it allows us to explore themes and ideas that are often difficult to discuss in the cold, frank terms of reality.  With that in mind, here are three passages that get at topics that can be easier to think about in story form but are, nonetheless, ones that need to be discussed.

This first passage concerns a recurring nightmare the protagonist, Logan, has after witnessing his crew having been annihilated by a sea serpent.  Sometimes, the worst and most lasting trauma is the one that occurs in the mind – long after the actual trauma has occurred.

I looked around.  There were seven men besides me.  I seemed to remember them from somewhere, but I couldn’t be sure.  Their faces were blurry.  We must have been on a ship because I could feel my body rocking back and forth rhythmically. The surroundings were impossible to make out – sky, sea, waves – everything was covered in a thick layer of misty grey fog. 

The men talked to me, and I guess I talked to them but couldn’t remember the words spoken.  It was as if I were speaking a language I didn’t understand.  Suddenly, I heard a loud cry from one of the men, and all their blurry faces turned scarlet red.  They called my name, as if they wanted to tell me something, but I couldn’t hear.  I ran towards them, but the harder I tried, the less my legs moved.  The wooden deck below me seemed to be made of quicksand now. 

And when I finally reached them, I looked to the side and saw that I had not moved at all.  In a panic, I jumped, trying to reach the side of the boat.  I didn’t make it, but passed right through the wooden hull of the ship instead. 

Down and down I fell.  There was no water, only a black void.  Tumbling head over heels, I tried to scream but no sound came from my throat.  I saw a swirling mass somewhere below, and it seemed to pull me toward it.  It pulsated with a sickening green light.  I couldn’t avoid it; the force was too strong.  For some reason, the thought of entering the swirling mass filled me with intense terror.  Just as I was about to be engulfed by the hot green light, I succeeded in screaming …  

I awoke with a start.  My arms and legs were stiff with cold, but my head and chest felt hot.  I lay still for a few minutes; the force of my heart beating against my ribcage seemed to dominate my groggy senses.  When I managed to open my eyes, it was still dark, the moon high in the sky.  I gasped a sigh and then another.  I wasn’t sure if I had really screamed … but it seemed as if I had.  My mouth was very dry …

I awoke the next morning with pain in my lower back, not really remembering where I was.  I felt stiff trying to lift my head to rub my eyes …   Slowly, I recalled last night’s flurry of events, as well as the nightmare.  I wasn’t sure why it had been so frightening.  It didn’t seem so scary now.  I couldn’t explain it, but it felt real.  A fitting end to a crazy night.  Unfortunately, it was a dream that would recur and haunt me for months.

The next passage concerns the impact that post traumatic symptoms sometimes have on those around the sufferer.  Things like nightmares, anxiety, and shifting, unpredictable moods are often difficult for the sufferer to understand, let alone explain to someone else, especially since there is often stigma attached to admitting those things.  Here, Logan’s nightmares are observed by his childhood friend, Aurora, when they are traveling together.  As is her way, she deals with them in a sensitive, caring manner, though not all are so lucky in real life.

There were times when Logan would startle out of sleep, sometimes crying out, sometimes sitting up violently in a cold sweat, mumbling something incoherent in his half–slumber.  Given his description of the events leading up to our reunion, I could only guess that he was reliving some traumatic event that he could not yet articulate or did not want to speak about.  So I did what I had done when he was younger and had had a bad dream.  I put my arm around him and cradled his head, rocking back and forth, letting him know all was well, until he fell back into slumber.  I had a feeling he might have been embarrassed to let me do this during the light of day, so I never mentioned it to him, and he never brought it up.

The last passage is about the all too common, sometimes inexplicable guilt those that are alive can have.  Why am I here?  Why not my teammates?  Here, Logan finally finds some sense of peace and is able to understand more about the nightmares that have been plaguing his sleep.

For awhile, all was dark, and I could hear nothing.  Then the familiar elements of my recurring nightmare aboard the ship came into focus.  But this time, I wasn’t afraid.

And there before me, were all seven members of my crew, smiling, looking down as I lay in my bed.  It was like I was in the hospital, recovering from an injury, and they’d stopped by, flowers and get–well cards in hand, to wish me well.

“Guys?” I ventured.  “You’re … okay?”

“We are now,” Jake said softly, laying a hand on my arm.  The other men nodded.  I looked for traces of resentment or anger in their faces, but I saw none.

“I’m sorry, guys, I don’t know what to say … I …”

“It’s okay,” they said.

“You’re not mad?”

“Why would we be mad?” Ben asked.

“I … I dunno.  I’m here, you’re not … it just seemed like it should have been the other way around.”

“But it wasn’t,” said Phil, shrugging.  “We’ve been watching, the whole time, and in some ways, we’re glad it’s you, and not us,” he said, laughing.  The others nodded.

“We’re … we’re really proud of you,” Jake said.  “The cards were stacked against us from the beginning.  That asshole, Darian.”  Other nodded vigorously.  “We’ve been amazed you’ve made it this far.  I certainly don’t think I could have, not alone.”  More head nods.

I wasn’t sure what to say.  “Thanks,” I said finally.  “I’m glad we could meet again.”

“Well, we’ve been trying to get in contact with you as soon as we could, but … it never quite worked until now.”

The nightmares.  “I’ve been having the same nightmare over and over since the ship went down.  It always ends the same way.”

 “Well, now you know how it ended.  Here.  Today.  Now.”

It felt as if a weight had begun to be lifted from my chest. 

I searched for Aron and Ben.  “Aron … Ben … you guys tried to save my life.  I never got a chance to thank you.”

But they smiled and shrugged.  “You would’ve done the same.”

I picked these passages and wrote this post not because I thought it would necessarily bring peace or greater understanding to those in need today. Those are bigger and loftier goals than I can hope to fulfill. If it contributes in some small way, I am happy, but frankly, I am not that important, and neither is this blog, which is mostly about escapist entertainment. But I started out the post writing about a day to be spent “in memorium” – memories, which are really just remnants of stories that happened in the past. And sometimes, stories are all we have. 

We as humans are wired to think and listen for stories, which have the capability of drawing us in, taking us outside of ourselves, letting us see an element of common humanity, despite the blinders of our personal experiences, morals, prejudices, and politics.  And I believe that is something worth remembering.
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