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.
American Psycho is a difficult book to create an original soundtrack for, if only because Patrick Bateman has long, thorough, and exhausting opinions on ‘80s music (it’s hard to look at Huey Lewis, Genesis, and Whitney Houston quite in the same way after reading this book). So I decided to take the middle road and include a few of the songs Bateman analyzes to death and a few I find applicable to particular passages – it’s more satisfying, if in a narrower way.
If somehow you’ve missed hearing anything regarding the controversial American Psycho, it’s the story of the one and only Patrick Bateman and his pervasive madness. By day, he is young, attractive, well-educated and successful. By night, he lives out his fantasies in murderous ways most of us of cringe to read. He’s an insecure, misogynist, psychopath, and serial killer (I should point out that I do believe he murders an equal number of men and women… The women, well, he’s just more enthusiastic about it).
I figure any novel as polarizing as this one deserves a mixtape, so in no particular order:
01. Straight Into Darkness / Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I walk back to my place and say good night to a doorman I don’t recognize (he could be anybody) and then dissolve into my living room high above the city…”
02. Sex and Dying in High Society / X
“But we can’t ignore our social needs either. We have to stop people from abusing the welfare system. We have to provide food and shelter for the homeless and oppose racial discrimination and promote civil rights while also promoting equal rights for women but change the abortion laws to protect the right to life yet still somehow maintain women’s freedom of choice. We also have to control the influx of illegal immigrants. We have to encourage a return to traditional moral values and curb graphic sex and violence on TV, in movies, in popular music, everywhere. Most importantly we have to promote general social concern and less materialism in young people.”
The Huey Lewis discussion is so long and so in depth, that it felt nearly impossible to choose just one song.
“”I… am… the… devil… and… I’m… just… like… you…” And then everyone, the audience, the band, reappears and the music slowly swells up and Bono, sensing that I’ve received the message – I actually know that he feels me reacting to it – is satisfied and turns away…”
Because every mixtape needs a little Bob.
The only band mentioned more than Huey Lewis is Genesis.
“Sussudio, great, great song; a personal favorite.”
(For the record, I really can’t stand this song.)
08. Cherish / Lovin’ Spoonful
While Waiting on the couch in the living room, the Wurlitzer jukebox playing “Cherish” by Lovin’ Spoonful, I come to the conclusion that Patricia is safe tonight, that I am not going to unexpectedly pull a knife out and use it on her just for the sake of doing so….
09. What Difference Does it Make? / The Smiths
I try to placate her by describing how trendy, how luxurious the restaurant we’re going to is, explaining its pasta with fennel and banana, its sorbets, but she only shakes her head and then I’m reduced to telling her, oh Christ, about how Barcadia has gotten much more expensive even than Dorsia, but she is relentless. Her eyes, I swear, intermittently tear.
10. Saving All My Love for You / Whitney Houston
he ballad “Saving All My Love for You” is the sexiest, most romantic song on the record. It also has a killer saxophone solo by Tom Scott and one can hear the influences of sixties girl group pop in it (it was cowritten by Gerry Goffin) but the sixties girl groups were never this emotional or sexy (or as well produced) as this song is.
11. Will You Love Me Tomorrow / The Shirelles
(See above quote)
12. This Charming Man / The Smiths
Today has not been bad: I worked out for two hours before the office; the new Robson Hirsch restaurant called Finna opened in Chelsea; Evelyn left two messages on my answering machine and another with Jean, letting me know that she’ll be in Boston for most of the week; and best of all, The Patty Winters Show this morning was in two parts. The first was an exclusive interview with Donald Trump, the second was a report on women who’ve been tortured.
13. Dancing in the Dark / Bruce Springsteen
“…it also has a stripped down urgency that not even the overrated Bruce Springsteen can equal. As an observer of love’s failing Collins beats out the Boss again and again…”
Did I miss any ’80s classics that Bateman would obsess over? Though I did purposefully exclude multiple Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis, and Genesis songs…
8 thoughts on “Literary Mixtape | American Psycho”
I can only handle Easton Ellis every few years…and I’m still getting over a particular scene in Imperial Bedrooms.
I had vague plans to re-read some earlier BEE, probably starting with this book, Less Than Zero or Rules of Attraction. I think your mixtape lets me off the hook for revisiting American Psycho (I was only going to go back because I thought that perhaps I was too young the first time around – about 19).
Yes it does. I don’t think AP is worth a re-read.
I have heard references to American Psycho but had no idea what it was about. At all… well, beyond some psycho American. 😉 Love the mixtape list! (And I was lucky enough to hear Phil Collins/Genesis live when I was in high school!)
Thank you. I figure making a mixtape is a nice way to still talk about a book, without have to go overboard on a negative iece.
Well, I’ve seen the movie so it’s a bit spoiled for me knowing the ending and all but I still need to read this. Might start with something else of Ellis’ to start though.
I’ve never read any of his books and face that classic douchey-author conundrum- ignore the writer’s shitty public attitude for the sake of a good read or protest because of said doucheyness.
I haven’t read this book in years, but boy do I love me some Smiths. I’ve listened to This Charming Man a ridiculous number of times on loops at several different points in the past.
I haven’t read this book, but I was wondering which Dylan song you’d sneak into the list 😛