May 7, 2009
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.
Meg Waite Clayton's The Wednesday Sisters is a funny and touching novel centered around friendship, and to a lesser extent, writing and the 1960s.
When I think “friendship,” I think of listening to Bruce Springsteen for the first time with high school pals, and talking until all hours underneath the Dark Side of the Moon album cover painted on my college dorm hall wall. I think of rolling up the rug to dance to "Sexual Healing" during law school, and more subdued parties these days with everything from Classical to Gospel to Blues to Rock. When I hear “1960s,” the thing that leaps to mind is change, both in societal norms and in music. And since The Wednesday Sisters is a novel about friendship set in the 1960s, you can bet music plays a role.
"Do You Believe in Magic" by the Lovin’ Spoonful plays, believe it or not, in a funeral parlor at a pivotal scene in the early-ish part of the novel. Yes, it’s pretty bubble-gummy, but it’s such a joyful song, and it captures the hope the five Wednesday Sisters—Frankie, Ally, Brett, Kath and Linda— feel in the moment it is played.
"Come Together" by the Beatles plays at a Halloween costume party that occurs in the course of the novel. Does anyone know what the lyrics mean? But the scene it plays in addresses issues of racial prejudice, and the title expresses my own hope of what we call all do.
"You Can’t Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones—one of my favorite Stones songs—just plays on the radio in the course of The Wednesday Sisters, but it also expresses one ultimate message of novel: that “if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”
"The Tonight Show Theme," written by Paul Anka and played by Doc Severenson and the Tonight Show Band—one of the most recognized little ditties in history—plays in the final scene of The Wednesday Sisters. Enough said, lest I give away too much.
"You’ve Got a Friend," written by Carol King and performed by many, including James Taylor, is at the top of my long list of favorite friendship songs, all of which would be appropriate for The Wednesday Sisters. One line in particular—“You know wherever I am, I’ll come running”—pretty well sums up the friendship between Kath, Frankie, Ally, Brett and Linda.
"I’ll Stand by You" by the Pretenders could be the soundtrack to the final scene of the novel, when the Wednesday Sisters literally stand by each other. There are a lot of standing-by-friends songs—Stand by Me by Ben King, I’ll Be There for You by the Rembrandts, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, With a Little Help from My Friends by the Beatles, Friends by Elton John, and I Turn to You by Christina Aguilera all come quickly to mind—and many have better lyrics, but none of the others has Chrissie Hynde’s incredible voice.
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel is a second stand-by-a-friend song that I can’t let go unlisted.
"A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke is, in my humble opinion, one of the most moving songs ever written, and captures both the spirit of the 1960s and the path Frankie, Linda, Ally, Brett and Kath take. They don’t always change as much as I’d have liked them to, but they do all grow.
"Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin should be Kath’s song, a little hint of the change she doesn’t quite make.
"Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane is definitely a Wednesday Sisters song for the chorus line: She’s Miss America, and I’m just the girl next door.
As much as The Wednesday Sisters is about friendship and the 1960s, though, it is ultimately a story about the importance of feeling good about ourselves, and the role finding the courage to reach for our dreams plays in that. To that end, no Wednesday Sisters playlist would be complete without…
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Because we all need to insist.
"Stupid Girls" by P!nk. “Outcasts and girls with ambitions, that’s what I want to see.”
"Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera. Because we all are, “no matter what they say.”
"Working on a Dream" by Bruce Springsteen. In the end, this is what The Wednesday Sisters is about: Working on our dreams. In this song, Springsteen sums up in two lines what I seem to need more than three hundred pages to deliver: “Now the cards I’ve drawn’s rough and darkened / I straightened the back and, I’m working on a dream.” But then, he has Clarence, and he can sing and play guitar, too. And I’ll wager he works as hard at his dream as anyone does.
Meg Waite Clayton and The Wednesday Sisters links:
Bookish Ruth review
Curled Up review
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? review
Lesa's Book Critiques review
Stephanie's Written Word review
Story Circle Book Reviews review
BookBrowse guest post by the author
Books on the Brain guest post by the author
The Debutante Ball guest post by the author
Fresh Fiction interview with the author
Lesa's Book Critiques interview with the author
Mrs. Magoo Reads interview with the author
also at Largehearted Boy: