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?


30 thoughts on “Literary Soundtrack: A Top Ten List

  1. Awesome list! 🙂 I love making mixes and playlists but for some reason I’ve never tried making one about a particular book. I should try it out sometime…though, haha, in answer to your last question I find myself associating David Usher’s “My Way Out” (and pretty much his ‘Morning Orbit’ album) to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s a weird association, but it just happened that I was reading the book (for the first time) around the time that I had that album on loop so it stuck, even after all of these years 😀

    My TTT


    1. My LOTR association is probably shared with about 75% of Tolkein’s reader – Led Zeppelin.

      I hadn’t really thought of doing theme songs before, but I wanted to make a list where I wasn’t necessarily talking about the same things over and over again. I mentioned quite a few books that I frequently talk about, but a new aspect of them. Win-win, sort of…


  2. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a ‘soundtrack’ for my novel Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, but have never quite got round to it. I love making mixtapes though, especially for dear friends on significant occasions. I don’t know most of the songs you mentioned – are you on Spotify?


    1. I am, although I don’t know much about it (aside from searching and playing songs). I just joined about a month ago. I definitely think you sound make a soundtrack for your novel (time permitting), I love when authors do that.


      1. What’s your spotify handle? I’m Annabel Duckworth-Smith. let’s be friends! I should do the mixtape…one day.


      2. It’ll be some variation on Rory O’Connor (a surprisingly popular name). I look it up the exact name tomorrow when I turn my desktop back on.


      3. I have no idea how this aspect of spotify works (it’s starting to seem like a facebook app), I couldn’t find you, but here’s me: spotify:user:1269241660 (apparently entering that into a search box will bring me up).


    1. I hadn’t thought much of it previously, until I saw a TTT freebie was coming up, then I wanted to find (and create) a slightly more exciting list that usual.

      Thanks, I’m glad you see the humor. I worry that someone might suggest a love song for that novel. I don’t even know what I’d say…


    1. I’ve actually thought about it and have done it on occasion. I think the last one I matched was Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and Asleep by The Smiths (and that was months ago).


  3. Fun topic! I do love a good book playlist and the idea of matching the perfect song to a book. And I didn’t know that Regina Spektor wrote Fidelity after watching High Fidelity. I love the song & the movie 🙂


    1. I think she borrows one of the movie’s line for the beginning of here song (or a close variation, the one foot bit). And I agree, both are good.

      I liked her new album quite a bit. I look nothing like her, except in her video in All the Rowboats where I look a lot like her. Don’t know why I shared that… 🙂


  4. Really digging #4. You’ve also made me want to read Bag of Bones, thanks to song choice alone… I think next I want to make a soundtrack for one book. Now, what book to choose…

    (Oh yeah- your honorable mention is quite humorous 🙂 )


    1. Read it, it’s my favorite SK (and that obviously makes it best ;)). I’ve made a couple of soundtracks for books, I really enjoy doing it so I recommend the process (I can’t say they are my most popular posts…).


  5. Great list! I actually did this one on its first time around, and I chose the same exact song for The Last Werewolf. Great minds think alike? 😉 I really appreciate how wide-ranging both your musical tastes and your literary tastes seem to run!

    Additionally, I am glad to hear that your family and friends in Boston are safe. All of my thoughts are with those in Boston today.

    My TTT list, featuring the books I recommend the most, is over at Bookwanderer.


    1. It’s just such a fitting choice. I just finished The Last Werewolf a few weeks ago and liked it. It seemed like the most obvious pairing, but it works well nonetheless.

      And thanks, I do try to read a wide variety and I listen to almost anything.


  6. Loooooooove your list! Even the stuff I’ve not heard of. Because you picked Shelter from the Storm to go with Bag of Bones, your tastes are obviously stellar. Carry on being awesome.


  7. What a fun list. I remember making mixed tapes with my sister when I was little. Making CDs or playlists just isn’t the same. I didn’t know Fidelity was written because of High Fidelity. Learn something new everyday. Great post!


    1. Useless? Yes. Silly? Yes. Expensive? Yes.

      Resistible? No.

      Though I haven;t actually bought one – I haven’t had a reason to make a mix in awhile.


  8. Oh, Ani…one could make a playlist based on Ani songs alone. “Not A Pretty Girl” for “Jane Eyre?”

    There’s actually a band called Tin Star Orphans who did an entire album based on “The Road” – it’s called “The Days of Blinding Fear.” I’m not a fan of the lead singer’s voice, but the concept did make my inner English major do a happy dance.


    1. Ani is one if the singer/songwriters that I truly consider to be a poet. That is a good choice for Jane Eyre. I really wanted to pick a song for JE, so I racked my brain for the perfect love song…and came up with nothing. So if you can think of one, please share.

      Until then, I’m liking Not a Pretty Girl…

      I have to go check out Tin Star Orphans now, because that is rad.


  9. Why have I never heard this Regina Spektor song?? High Fidelity is one of my favourite books of all time.

    I used to imagine songs as a soundtrack to my life all the time, when I’d walk around with my walkman/cd player/mp3 player – yep, old enough to remember mixed tapes that were tapes 🙂


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