Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Literary Soundtrack: A Top Ten List

I once received a mixtape (mixed CD) that led off with ‘God Bless the Broken Road’ by Rascal Flatts. I won’t tell you what happened next. I think we can all agree on the importance of giving and receiving a perfect mixtape. Its creation is an art form. The few of you who might disagree should stop reading now. I may be too young to have ever created an actual mixtape (on a cassette), but I am no less appreciative of the thought behind it – and I don’t skip tracks even when it’s a digital playlist. For those of us who came after the cassette era, but still love the retro look – they now make these fabulous USB faux tapes. Are they affordable or useful? No, but that doesn’t make them any less fun (purchase here or here).

digital mixtape

After opining that I wanted to create a life soundtrack, it was suggested I read Songbook by Nick Hornby. For the those of you who didn’t read yesterday’s post, I recently finished it and it’s a suitable read for the slightly neurotic music fan in your life. Or me. There’s a Bob Dylan chapter, what can I say? For my personal soundtrack, I’ve already chosen a few songs from various stages of my life, starting with Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule the World (a natural choice), Rolling Stones – Paint it Black, R.E.M. – Losing My Religion, Tracy Chapman – Give Me One Reason, The Wallflowers – One Headlight, only 25 more to go.

Southie: Wicked is an adjective, not a musical.

This week’s top ten list: pick a list you missed. I missed top ten books you’d give a theme song to (originally February 2012, as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish), so that’s what I’m doing today. Some of the songs are paired with books for obvious reasons (see #5); others capture an ineffable quality of the book. Either way, it’s a literary playlist.

In no particular order, except number one really is number one.

10. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Song: Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan. The novel’s denouement is a vicious storm and Mike must protect Kyra. However, it ends up being her love for him that saves them both from tragedy.

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail. Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail. Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn. “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”.

9. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman. Song: Southern Rain by Cowboy Junkies. A long, hot summer, a beach house, and a murder. Bring on the gin.

8. Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace. Song: Recovery by Frank Turner. London based Jason Priestley (not that Jason Priestley) was so drunk that he didn’t remember leaving awful messages for his ex-girlfriend. He friends try to help him to move on, instead it’s an undeveloped roll of film.

Blacking in and out in a strange flat in east London / Somebody I don’t really know just gave me something to help settle me down / And to stop me from always thinking about you.

7. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Fidelity by Regina Spekter. I’m cheating a little here, because she wrote that song after watching High Fidelity. It’s was her first really successful song in the US.

6. The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus. Song: Enjoy the Silence by Moriarty, though there are several decent covers of Depeche Mode’s song, Moriarty’s fit the tone of the book best. Runner up: Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel. The book is about children’s speech becoming toxic and how quiet the world becomes by necessity.

5. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Song: Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This is what I meant about obvious. It’s almost like cheating.

4. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Song: Time To Run by Lord Huron. Eli and Charlie Sisters are hitmen in the west. I don’t know what the song is intended to be about, but it reminds me of outlaws in the old west.

It’s time to run, they’ll string me up for all that I’ve done

3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Song: Wayfaring Stranger by Jack White (I like Johnny Cash’s version too, but not as much).

2. All Souls: A Family From Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald. Song: I’m Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys. This is another obvious one. Also, if you haven’t seen The Departed, you should see it (this is the featured song). I’ve mentioned that I from Boston, though I’m not from Southie. I only have an accent when I’ve had far too much to drink or I’m trying to talk too fast. Either way, it’s not pretty when it comes out. If you haven’t read this memoir, it’s excellent.

*I often write my posts, especially ones like these, quite far in advance. However, I wanted to edit this one to include that I am very sad for Boston today. It seemed wrong to disregard the news and leave the post as it was. Thankfully, my family and friends are safe.*

1. Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank. Song: Untouchable Face by Ani DiFranco. This is about a woman (unsure of who she truly is) who wants to make her husband happy, but he finds happiness with someone else. This is a very simplistic take on a complex novel, but it is one of my favorites this year. Good song, good book.

Honorable mention: IT by Stephen King, Song: Float On by Modest Mouse. We all float down here.
For fun: 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Song: Tonight I’m F***in’ You by Enrique Iglesias.

So do you have any particular song that defines your life? Any song that you associate with a particular book?


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