Ninety-Seven to Three


Contact: Elizabeth S. Tieri

Ninety-Seven to Three by G.D. Brennan III


A series of battle rap responses to classic rock songs, Ninety-Seven to Three takes aim at the unquestioned mantras of modern life—the music we all know by heart, by artists like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Journey, AC/DC and Santana. Published by indie imprint Tortoise Books, in conjunction with Back to Print, this collection—alternately funny and thought-provoking—looks at love and desire, ambition and artistry, work and play, and the author’s own journey from chip-on-the-shoulder single guy to loving husband and father.

“The title comes from an anecdote in Keith Richards’ autobiography,” Brennan explains. “When they were working on Exile on Main Street, they had some heroin that was supposedly so potent it needed to be cut at a ratio of ninety-seven parts cut to three parts smack. He thought about writing a song about this ratio, but he never got around to it. So I wrote a poem about it, a poem that ultimately didn’t get into this collection, but that helped inspire it. And I like the implications behind the title—the quixotic battle against impossible odds, which is what we’re trying to do by publishing this independently.”          

Still, this collection’s far more than an experiment in publishing—it’s a bold selection of battle verse, equal parts T.S. Eliot and Eminem, a double-barreled shotgun blast at the sacred cash cows of the music industry. Poems include:

  • A lyrical dismemberment of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light”
  • A lively riff on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and its relevance (or irrelevance) to debt-riddled Americans struggling through the Great Recession.
  • Musings on “All You Need Is Love” and its frequent misinterpretations.
  • A reflection on AC/DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You” from a data analyst working in Microsoft SQL Server.

“Most poetry collections are far too long,” Brennan explains. “They’re built around the economics of the traditional publishing industry, where you have to put out a longer book to make it worthwhile to do an offset printing run, and to make the publicity efforts cost-effective. And that works well for novels, but other forms fall by the wayside—novellas, short stories, and poetry collections. Publishers obviously bundle these together for the sake of economics, but they risk losing the coherence and plot arc that pull you through a novel. Here we’re doing something different, something that wouldn’t be possible in the old publishing world. It’s a short, punchy collection of ten poems, with a solid thematic arc, where the reader won’t get bogged down in the middle and will end up wanting more rather than wanting less—a concept album of poems.”

Full track listing is as follows:

01 – I Need You

02 – Blinded By The Light

03 – Don’t Stop Believing

04 – Time

05 – Rust Never Sleeps

06 – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

07 – Let Me Put My Love Into You

08 – Like A Rolling Stone

09 – Black Magic Woman

10 – All You Need Is Love


Jerry Brennan graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned a Master's at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He’s the author of Resistance, which Kirkus Reviews called an “extremely impressive debut.” His writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Good Men Project and Innerview Magazine; he has also been a frequent contributor and co-editor at Back to Print and the deadline. He resides in Chicago.


Ninety-Seven to Three will be launched on 3/1/13. It will be available for purchase at through Tortoise Books for $.49 in Kindle format, or $4.99 if you like killing trees. A deluxe version assembled by Back to Print will be available at select independent bookstores in Chicago.