January 21, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Victor David Giron's debut novel Sophomoric Philosophy vividly explores the personal struggle between living for art and financial security through the eyes of its 30-something protagonist Alex Lopez.
My first novel Sophomoric Philosophy, a coming-of-age story set primarily in contemporary Chicago, references over 70-something songs from various genres spanning my schizophrenic taste in music. Like the main character Alejandro ("Alex") Lopez, I consider myself a music lover, and an arts appreciator. However, when I meet people that are really experts in one of these areas I realize I that know very little about these things. I'm ashamed to admit that I like some of the things I like, and have never heard many of the things others say are so great. I can't help from feeling bad that I'm secretly into sports, greasy food, smoking, "bad" music, and "bad" movies. And that's kind of what Sophomoric Philosophy is all about—struggling to find how to fit in when there really is nowhere for you to fit in sometimes and knowing how to accept that. Maybe there is a middle road of sorts when it comes to appreciating the finer things in life and the everyday mindless activities that just provide passing entertainment? And also maybe it's ok if you're the only one in a room of chatting adults that doesn't get what the heck was so funny. So with that, here are my top 10 songs from Sophomoric Philosophy in the order they appear in the book, and a brief explanation of why.
"Cherub Rock" by The Smashing Pumpkins
At the end of the first chapter, Alex imagines directing the beginning to a movie about Chicago during which this song plays over the opening scenes that consist of rapid-fire shots of the city. Whenever I think of Chicago I think of this band, specifically this song, because it was the first musical artist I remember identifying with Chicago as a young adult, giving the city an identity for me.
"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
Sophomoric Philosophy is full of flashbacks to the late 80s / early 90s, back to when I loved all the Hair Metal bands. And I still love them. This song perfectly captures those years for me. I still get the chills when I hear the intro to this song.
"Superman" by R.E.M.
In the chapter "Theme Songs" Alex imagines having theme songs for different situations he's in, and for his friends and co-workers. He wishes this song could be his theme song because he'd like to have the type of dedication described in the song when pursuing women. I love R.E.M., and this just happens to be one of my favorite of their songs.
"Ride the Lightning" by Metallica
During high school there were those that liked Hair Metal, and those that like Heavy Metal. You were supposed to be on one side or the other. I liked both, still do, but pretended not to like the other side depending on who I was talking to. "Ride the Lightning" was my favorite from the "heavy" side.
"Fuck Tha Police" by N.W.A
During post high school parties in the early 90s back in suburban Chicago we would alternate between playing Alternative rock and Gangsta' Rap. I still know most of the lyrics to these N.W.A. songs and still lack the context to really appreciate them.
"Only Shallow" by My Bloody Valentine
In the novel Alex discovers "good" underground, true alternative music in high school, and is conflicted because his core friends think this music is for weirdos. I didn't discover this type of music until my late 20s. When I first heard this song I had some kind of epiphany and really liked it. But maybe that's just because it's loud and psychedelic.
"Revolution" by the Beatles
In the chapter "The Widow-Maker" Alex finds himself manning the stereo at a New Year's Eve party in the mid-90s during one of the last great post high school parties he remembers. He chooses to play this song right after the NYE countdown. I actually did this once, in my mid-20s, and I have to say it was one of the best NYE parties I remember.
"Alive" by Pearl Jam
After almost getting beat up by a girl's boyfriend, Alex thinks of this song as he's running down snowy streets on his way to a friend's house early on a New Year's Day. And so would I if something like this really happened to me. I love this song, this whole album.
"Little Fluffy Clouds" by the Orb
This was my first introduction to Ambient music. For some reason Alex associates this song with the flatness of Illinois while driving down I-57 from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana—so do I for some reason.
"Baby Blue" by the Warlocks
This is one of the last songs referenced in Sophomoric Philosophy. I'm not sure what this song is about, but I find it to be quite beautiful and associate it with saying goodbye to things, especially bad romances, or at least trying to.
Victor David Giron and Sophomoric Philosophy links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists