September 13, 2006
Richard Grant's Another Green World is not your typical World War II novel. Grant has created an epic quest set against the background of the war, as his characters set out to capture irrefutable evidence of the Nazi Holocaust.
I compiled this "soundtrack" a couple years ago as an iTunes playlist, which I burned onto CDs and mailed around in an effort to market my latest novel, Another Green World. As a sales gimmick, it flopped -- the manuscript ultimately found its way to Gary Fisketjon, legendary editor at Alfred A. Knopf, through the intercession of my friend and fellow novelist Richard Russo -- but the soundtrack still succeeds, I think, in evoking moods, scenes, themes and characters from the book. Readers interested in sampling it directly can find it here: http://rapidshare.de/files/30410040/Grant-Green_World.zip -- viel Spaß!
1. Prolog von "Heimat" - Nikos Mamangakis
"Heimat" means homeland, an emotionally laden concept that took on stark nationalistic coloring in the Third Reich. This is the haunting theme of an epic German film by Edgar Reitz, broadcast as a miniseries by WGBH-Boston in the early 90s.
2. Unsre Heimat - Jungen Pioneer
"Our Homeland" -- an ideologically purified, Cold War-era repackaging of the same patriotic content, from the former Democratic Republic of Germany (aka Communist East Germany). The singers are members of the Young Pioneers, a more wholesome successor to the Hitler Youth.
3. Heimat (Tomorrow Belongs to Me) - Original Cast, "Cabaret"
If you've seen "Cabaret," you'll remember this beautiful and disturbing sequence. Escaping Berlin for a sunny afternoon, our two sexually conflicted male leads find themselves in a beer garden surrounded by salt-of-the-earth, "red state" Germans. Suddenly, a strikingly attractive teenager rises to sing this rousing, creepy anthem -- which the audience, if not the characters, can recognize as a storm-flag warning of awful things to come -- and one by one, the good Germans join lustily in song.
4. Realisation - John Lunn
From the Brit flick "Get Real," a terrific gay coming-of-age story; pretty music that signals an emergent motif of the novel.
5. Im Abendrot (In Twilight : Ingo's theme) - Fritz Wunderlich
A classic exemplar of German lieder, tagged here to my character Ingo Miller, a conservative, anti-Roosevelt Republican (ca. 1944), but also a deeply closeted queer Romantic, reader of poetry, and defender of lost causes.
6. Mr. Somewhere (Marty's lament) - This Mortal Coil
From the 4AD label "house band," a lovely wistful theme for Ingo's foil, Martina Panich, a bleeding-heart New Dealer and one of the few insiders in the U.S. administration determined to do something -- anything -- about the Holocaust unfolding in Europe.
7. Summer Overture - Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet
From "Requiem for a Dream," this piece signals the start of the 1929 story-line, set during the last golden summer before the Great Depression, when hope and idealism and self-discovery were still possible in the heart of Europe.
8. The Boys of Summer - The Ataris
An uncomplicated, energetic bit of power pop.
9. Schein - E-Samba
More summer music, this time in Krautpop form. 20-year-old Ingo, far from Catholic school in America, finds in liberated Weimar Germany the freedom to be himself and even to fall (fleetingly, deliciously) in love with...
10. Anton - Nikos Mamangakis
A conveniently titled character piece from Reitz's "Heimat."
11. Kiss - John Cale
Originally composed for a Warhol film; I find this beautiful in a complex, shadowy sort of way, hinting at darker undercurrents.
12. Neben mir (Beside me) - Paul Dimmer Band
The acoustic demo version of a great love song.
13. St. Elmo's Fire - Brian Eno
The only selection here from the classic 1977 album from which I borrowed the title Another Green World. I think of this as end-of-summer music, thematically connected to the next track.
14. Summer's End - Carte Blanche
Solid, OC-grade indie that I could play again and again at this time of year.
15. Early Autumn - Anita O-Day
Beginning now a sequence of tunes dating from the era of the 1944 story-line. O'Day is a great interpreter of jazz standards, and her reading of this one is particularly fine, I think.
16. Five Guys Named Moe - Louis Jordan
Without getting into plot-connections here, this rocking tune is a lot of fun, and Louis Jordan is just too cool to do without.
17. Ich brech die Herzen... (I break the hearts) - Palast Orchester
Fronted by singer Max Raabe, the Palast Orchester helps you understand what was so irresistible about the 30s cabaret music that sounds so tinny and, you know, old, in vintage recordings. This is a theme of sorts for my character Butler, a "trust-fund Trotskyite."
18. Lili Marleen - Marlene Dietrich
A tear-jerker so evocative that it became a hit on both sides of the German line during WWII (though the English-language versions lack both the schmalz and the pathos of the original). This Dietrich recording may not be quite definitive -- ideally, I suppose, you would need to hear it in a static-filled broadcast while shuddering in a foxhole somewhere -- but it dates from around 1939 and probably comes close.
19. Banjski cocek (Isaac's theme) - Gothart
A traditional Slavic dance tune with (to my ear) echoes of klezmer music, I tagged this to the character of a wise-mouthed, Polish-American-Jewish kid who becomes a partisan hero.
20. Mad World - Gary Jules
From the eerie ending sequence of "Donnie Darko," this seems to fit here as well, for much the same reasons.
21. Winter (zu Hause version) - Mon)Tag
I know nothing about this band, but I do love the song -- it's near the top of my all-time iTunes play count. Now we are deep in the 1944 story-line, and nothing is looking very bright.
22. Stalingrad - Norbert Schneider
Movie music from one of the greatest (and grimmest) flicks about WWII, Joseph Vilsmaier's 1993 "Stalingrad."
23. Ghosts of a Future Lost - Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet
Back to this source for a "bracket" to the earlier summer piece.
24. The Sound of Silence - Chamberdeacons
Another Europop band of which I know nothing. This respectful update of the Simon & Garfunkel classic comes from a German compilation made by Mehmet Scholl, the FC-Bayern football star, which I won in a contest from the newsmagazine Die Zeit. You never know where novel research will take you, and I think of this as a reward for five years of private German lessons (after which I still fail to fathom the mystery of adjective endings).
25. Schlaflied - Prinzen
An a cappella lullaby. And to all, eine gute Nacht.
Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)
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