March 28, 2008
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.
Interweaving traditional narrative forms with faux interviews, court depositions, consumer profiles, and an annotated screenplay, Without Wax is a fictional oral biography that offers an intriguing glimpse into the adult entertainment industry. Portions have appeared recently in New York Tyrant #2, Juked #4, and Keyhole #1.
Rain Taxi Review of Books wrote of the novel:
"Without Wax is full of the electric, the taboo, the sad bizarre. There's no doubt Walsh knows what he's doing, and that he's willing to go wherever necessary to find and render something new."
The closest musical equivalent to Without Wax would be The Smiths with the Red Hot Chili Peppers rhythm section. But I couldn’t approximate that within a single mixtape. The segues would have been off: The Connells fading into Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys following The Beautiful South. So this mixtape certainly dates me as a guy who worked in record stores all through grad school in the early nineties, and it leans heavily on guitar pop/twang and singer-songwriters. But these songs have aged well, for the most part, and they’re thematically appropriate.
“Gigantic” by the Pixies
I love the way Kim Deal used to wave and smile at the audience. She has a real fast wave and a big smile. “Hey, Paul. Hey, Paul. Hey, Paul, let's have a ball.”
“Sick of Myself” by Matthew Sweet
An anthem to self-loathing with an over-the-top guitar riff and a false ending that seems unrehearsed and just brilliant. Much of the novel is concerned with the title character’s desire to end his career in adult films, I think Wax hates The Life and begins to hate himself.
“The Overdraft” by Warren Zevon
Zevon wrote this one with Thomas McGuane, the popular novelist from the eighties, and Lindsey Buckingham provides manic harmony vocals. The line I like is, “No one sleeps on a yellow line / No one’s that alone.” It’s a great driving song, with Jerry-Lee-Lewis-piano throughout.
“I Think I Lost It” by Lucinda Williams
“I don’t want nothing / If I have to fake it.” Lucinda Williams sings the hell out of this song.
“I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” by White Stripes
This song could serve as theme for just about all of the Consumer Profile characters. Each of the six consumers profiled—three men and three women—are at loose ends, and they relate to pornography on different levels: as avid consumers (“Boothgirl” and “Tugger”), as innocents (“Rat” and “Bidet”), as beneficiaries (“In Houston”), and as amateur participants stepping through the looking-glass (“Single File”).
“You’re My Blessing” by Miracle Legion
Mark Mulcahy delivers every line with pure sincerity, especially this one: “Will you blush if I stated the obvious with regards to your perfection?”
“Used To be a Sweet Boy” by Morrissey
Wax Williams is not the prototypical porn stud. He’s a sensitive guy, and throughout the novel those closest to him remark on his sweetness, his sincerity, and his fine manners. This song from Morrissey is, for me, something of a sequel to “Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.”
“Sin Tax” by Too Much Joy
“No, we don’t approve of this / So it will cost a dollar more.” Congress is considering a new consumer tax on adult materials. In this way, masturbation will beat the deficit.
“Read About Love” by Richard Thompson
A great Thompson novelty tune about a young man whose sex education came from the “back of a Hustler, Hustler, Hustler…” When the boy finally gets himself a girl, he implements everything he learned from Larry Flint and asks her, “Why don’t you moan and sigh?”
“Gary’s Got a Boner” by The Replacements
Certainly not one of The Replacements' best songs, but it speaks to some of the base, adolescent themes in Without Wax. It could serve as a theme for Wax’s manager, Lyle Mammon, who is throughout base and adolescent.
“Rockin’ the Suburbs” by Ben Folds
This song is a carryover from my first Book Notes draft, which was a high-concept list that featured hit pop songs with XXX parody lyrics (Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” was re-written as “Eleven” with this chorus: “Baby you’re all that I need / As you’re lying here in my arms / I’m finding it hard to believe / You’re eleven”) . This Ben Fold song became “Rockin’ the Pornstache”. The version I sing in the car has six verses. Here’s one line: “Rockin’ the pornstache / Just like Thomas Magnum did.”
“Making Like a Rug” by Eleventh Dream Day
A short story disguised as a song about a woman named Frances who shoots her boyfriend, Frank. I like the way you can hear fret-squeak on the bassline. “You found a cheap way into me / But you can’t buy a ticket out / Love is a one way ride / You can’t buy a ticket out.”
“Let It Bleed” by Rolling Stones
I was on the boys tennis team in high school, and one time we travelled by bus to an away match with the girls’ tennis team, which was rare because our schedules were set up so that we’d play away when the girls team was playing on our homecourts and vice versa. There was a new girl on their team who always had an enormous boombox with her, and on the way to match she played “Let It Bleed” at top volume and sang along to every word. I cannot recall her name and I couldn’t find her in my old yearbook. She was Indian and very tall with wide shoulders. After she sang this line, “We all need someone we can cream on / And if you want to, well, you can cream on me,” she pointed at me and said, “Billy Walsh is blushing.”
“Pocahontas” Neil Young
I include this song to represent a chapter deleted from the final edit of Without Wax. It was a chapter written in verse called “SpanksGiving IV” that was set during the filming of a pilgrim-themed adult film. This song starts off being about the massacre of an Indian village. But Young swerves into a fantasy about Pocahantos: “I wish I was a trapper / I would give a thousand pelts / to sleep with Pochantos / and find out how she felt / in the morning.” And then he imagines a campfire chat with Marlon Brando about the Houston Astrodome and the first TV.
“The Lonely Bull” by Dream Syndicate
This is a short instrumental from a 12” single that Dream Syndicate put out in 1986. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had a hit with this song in the sixties. Dream Syndicate’s arrangement is all tremolo surf guitar, no trumpets. I used to put it at the end of just about every mixtape I ever made, so I’ll put it here. It’s also a fun song to whistle. I can imagine Wax’s manager, Lyle Mammon, whistling it.
William Walsh and Without Wax: A Documentary Novel links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)
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