Literary Mixtape | The Sisters Brothers

Do you ever want a modern soundtrack to literary fiction? Yes? Me too. That’s the point of this feature. Whereas some people imagine cinematic montages in their head, I create a soundtrack.

Okay, so I actually do both, but I prefer to share my soundtrack.


Today’s mixtape features my favorite pair of psychopathic hitmen: Charlie and Eli Sisters. Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is one of most beloved contemporary novels. It’s dark and funny, with a bit of a melancholy undertone. It reshapes the classic western for the modern reader. If you haven’t read it, you should consider doing so. Feel free to use the following soundtrack to accompany your reading. It’s bound to be satisfying for all, though I’m not willing to guarantee it.

As usual, please note that this feature is meant to be irreverent and fun. No harm’s intended.

1. Pay in Blood / Bob Dylan

He closed the door and moved to his room and I lay in the dark thinking about the difficulties of family, how crazy and crooked the stories of a bloodline can be.

2. Blue on Black / Kenny Wayne Shepherd

The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.

3. Locked in a Cage / Brick + Mortar

Most people are chained to their own fear and stupidity and haven’t the sense to level a cold eye at just what is wrong with their lives. Most people will continue on, dissatisfied but never attempting to understand why, or how they might change things for the better, and they die with nothing in their hearts but dirt and old, thin blood – weak blood, diluted – and their memories aren’t worth a goddamned thing, you will see what I mean.

4. Thiskidisnotalright / AWOLNATION

I do not know what it was about that boy but just looking at him, even I wanted to clout him on the head. It was a head that invited violence.

5. You’ll Accomp’ny Me / Bob Seger

“The woman was made restless by my answer and I said, ‘What is it that you are asking me?’

‘My hope is that I will see you again.’

My chest swelled like an aching bruise and I thought, I am a perfect ass. ‘Your hope will be fulfilled,’ I promised.

6. Time to Run / Lord Huron

You are only wasting our time. And we have no more time to waste.

7. Bittersweet Me / R.E.M.

He began once more to cry, which I took as my cue to sever our ties. As I climbed onto Tub I wished the boy safe travels, but there were empty words, for he was clearly doomed, and it was a mistake to have given him that gold but it was not as if I could take it back now. He stood there weeping and watching us go, while behind him Lucky Paul entered and collapsed the prospector’s tent, and I thought, Here is another miserable mental image I will have to catalog and make room for.

8. Come Together / The Beatles

I am happy to welcome you to a town peopled in morons exclusively. Furthermore, I hope that your transformation to moron is not an unpleasant experience.”

9. How I Could Just Kill a Man / Rage Against the Machine

‘There is nothing typical about my profession.’ Suddenly I did not want to talk about it any longer. ‘I don’t want to talk about it any longer.’

Ignoring this statement, she asked, ‘Do you enjoy this work?’

‘Each job is different. Some I have seen as singular escapades. Others have been like a hell.’ I shrugged. ‘You put a wage behind something, it gives the act a sort of respectability. In a way, I suppose it feels significant to have something as large as a man’s life entrusted to me.’

‘A man’s death,’ she corrected.

10. Leader of Men / Nickelback*

Looking back at the camp I thought, I will never be a leader of men, and neither do I want to be one, and neither do I want to be led. I thought: I only want to lead myself.

11. House of the Rising Sun / The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers

There was silver in the dawn, and heavy dewdrops weighed down the stalks of tall grass… I had not seen the house in years and wondered if it might be in ruins, and what I would do if Mother was not there.

12. Steve Earle / I Feel Alright

It seemed to me I could gauge from these sounds the sorrow or gladness of their creator; I listened intently and decided that my brother and I were, for the present at least, removed from all earthly dangers and horrors.

And might I say what a pleasing conclusion this was for me.

So there you have it. One country-influenced soundtrack for a bloody, charming western. As usual, feel free to contribute. I love hearing your suggestions.

*Mock me all you want and take away my cool card (not that I ever had one, as illustrated by using the phrase “cool card”), but the Nickelback song is appropriate. Feel free to make fun of Nickelback all you want, but know that by doing so I think you are taking the easy shots.

31 thoughts on “Literary Mixtape | The Sisters Brothers

  1. The Beatles???!! Really!! 😉
    I love this feature. This book is still on my To Read PILE (yes unfortunately with capitals) I might have to try out your soundtrack when I finally get around to it!!


      1. It depends on how well I know the book. Jane Eyre (a favorite of mine) only took about an hour. This one took me a week or so. ROTN will be about the same.


      2. Good to know, I´ll make sure to read it as soon as it gets posted! By the way, you´re the first person I´ve heard say that Jane Eyre was enjoyable ❤ good to know people still enjoy classics 😉


    1. Thanks. I have a huge musical crush on KWS. Rage Against the Machine always reminds of my teenage years and the ’90s, the band makes me all nostalgic.


      1. I got to see KWS and his band play in a very small bar when I lived in State College. The stage was only maybe 3 or 4 inches off the floor, and we could be right up next to it. I could have reached out and touched his leather pants. It was amazing. I would love to be able to play the guitar like he does.


  2. To be honest, I’ve never quite gotten the Nickelback hate. I know all their music sounds the same, but why them over any other band? Are they just the most popular example of mediocrity? I agree, hating them just feels like the easy thing to do.


    1. I don’t get it either. They are plenty of other people who do not have a lot of talent yet are still extremely popular. Maybe it’s because all their songs sound the same. It beats me, but I feel like people should be more creative in their negativity.


    1. This (and The Teleportation Accident) are two of my favorite book covers. I’d recommend this one, it’s sincerely funny in a flippant, melancholy way.


    1. While I generally Bob Dylan can go without about anything, I found it particularly apt for this book. I was sorely tempted to make the entire mixtape an ode to Bob Dylan’s greatness, but I managed to quell that urge.


    1. There sort of the height of mediocrity with no discernible talent. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s nothing spectacular about them either. I don’t really have much of an opinion to be honest, but they are bashed with a frequency and fervor that’s alarming.

      Chad Kroeger’s voice is fine, the rest of him just seems…skeezy.


  3. You get a pass on the Nickleback thing ONLY because you chose a song that came out before This is How You Remind Me… surprised any Americans know about that song 🙂

    Love Blue on Black and the accompanying quote.

    So I really need to read this book eh?


    1. Everyone likes to insult Nickelback, but I don’t know why. The band is almost too mediocre to insult. Why waste the energy? Also, do I earn any point for being into Our Lady Peace back in the late ’90s and early ’00s?

      Have you seriously not read it? Wasn’t it the “it” book up there for a while?

      But yes, you really need to.


      1. It’s the enormity of their success compared to the enormity of their mediocrity 🙂 I blame Americans… we can’t make anyone a superstar, success in the US makes or breaks it…

        Haha really? OLP is one of those bands that every Canadian of a certain age city has probably seen live at least once because they were everywhere. Now CBC radio is pushing his solo stuff. I was never a big fan but definitely had some good songs in the 90s!

        It was and it`s on the TBR. I missed the boat, I was probably newly postpartum or something!


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