April 25, 2007
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.
With Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand has created a work of literary crime fiction that truly impresses the reader with its suspenseful storytelling.
One of my favorite authors, George Pelecanos, described the novel best:
“Intense and atmospheric, Generation Loss is an inventive brew of postpunk attitude and dark mystery. Elizabeth Hand writes with craftsmanship and passion.”
Generation Loss has a lot of autobiographical elements in it. Cass Neary, the novel’s screwed-up, tattooed speedfreak protagonist, is essentially me if my brakes had been cut in 1977. As the Shangri-Las put it in “Great Big Kiss,” “She’s good bad, but she ain’t evil.”
I meticulously, obsessively soundtrack everything I write — every heartbeat, every footstep -- so this is a very winnowed-down list. GL is all about the rage, so I dug into the vault for some of my old punk vinyl. I’ve arranged the songs to suit the novel’s central characters.
Led Zeppelin,"Immigrant Song": When I was 12, my younger brother gave me this 45 as a Christmas present. Etched into the vinyl alongside the label were the words DO WHAT THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW. I thought that was really cool.
Patti Smith, "Piss Factory"
The Adverts, "One Chord Wonders"
Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Helter Skelter": Best Beatles cover ever.
The Heartbreakers, "Born to Lose"
Johnny Thunders: Thunders’ solo album, So Alone, could comprise Cass’s epitaph, but I’m taking only two songs -- his delirious version of the Shangri-Las’ immortal “Great Big Kiss” and “Leave Me Alone.”
The Mekons, "Hard to be Human Again"
The Pretenders, "Precious": I just really like the way Chrissie Hynde says “f*ck off”
The Pretenders, “Something to Believe In”: beautiful, heartbreaking take on the Ramones song
Alison Krause, “Can’t Find my Way Home”
Sonic Youth, “Tunic (Song for Karen)”: I used to hate the Carpenters, but this always makes me cry.
Ramones, “Too Tough to Die”
The Strokes, "The Modern Age"
Television, Marquee Moon
PJ Harvey, "Down by the Water"
Richard Thompson, "Season of the Witch": Thompson is getting something out of his system with this one. Truly demonic, hair-raising guitar solo.
The Gun Club, "For the Love of Ivy": Or maybe Thompson was listening to this. I really don’t want to know what Jeffrey Lee Pierce is doing at the end of this song.
Suicide, "Rocket USA": Another creepy one. Could have been the soundtrack for the original film Carnival of Souls.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Restless Sinner"
Nick Drake, "Parasite"
Harry Nilsson, "Jump into the Fire": Another sick song, with a great Gene Krupa-style drum solo from Jim Gordon, of Derek and the Dominos.
The Replacements, "Rock and Roll Ghost": The ‘Mats elegy for Johnny Thunders. Fade to black.
Elizabeth Hand and Generation Loss links:
reviews of Generation Loss:
Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)