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July 2, 2013

Book Notes - Jessica Anya Blau "The Wonder Bread Summer"

The Wonder Bread Summer

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jessica Anya Blau's The Wonder Bread Summer is one of the year's most entertaining novels, both hilarious and heartfelt, and perfect for summer reading.

Nick Hornby wrote of the book:

"The book that made me happiest this month was Jessica Anya Blau's picaresque, properly funny, unpredictable, and altogether irrepressible The Wonder Bread Summer; it made me so happy that after I'd read it, in two days flat, I bought everything I could find by the same author."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In her own words, here is Jessica Anya Blau's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, The Wonder Bread Summer:

My new novel, The Wonder Bread Summer, is about a 20-year old girl, Allie, who somewhat accidentally steals a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine and goes on the lam. I don't do cocaine and don't recommend that you do it, but I do recommend that you listen to all of these fabulous songs that are either about cocaine or somehow reference cocaine. Enjoy!

"Cocaine," Eric Clapton

This is song you likely already know so I won't say anything about it other than the fact that people can no longer put out songs like this on mainstream radio. The word cocaine gets beeped.

"Picture," Kid Rock and Cheryl Crow

The first time I heard this song the word cocaine was silenced from it. The line is, "Been fuelin' up on cocaine and whiskey." But when I heard it on the radio it was, "Been fuelin' up on ___ and whiskey." (dead air space). It's a great duet and Rock and Crow's voices really sound lovely together.

"White Wedding," Billy Idol

Billy Idol appears as a character in my novel, so I have to include one of his songs. For as long as I've known this song, people have said it was about cocaine. Billy Idol denies this fact in interviews.

"Cocaine," Jackson Browne

I grew up in the town where Jackson Browne lives and although I never ran into him, everyone else seemed to run into him regularly. He was usually spotted at the beach, surfing. He always seemed so mellow and anti-cocaine. But here it is, his tribute to cocaine. It's a beautiful, slow song that sounds very traditionally American, as if it's being played on the porch of an Appalachian shack. And there's this great bit of dialogue after the music stops—Jackson talking with one of his musicians. Or maybe it's his drug dealer.

"Hotel California," The Eagles

This song was allegedly written about the old Hotel California on State Street in Santa Barbara. When I was a kid, this place was a seamy, sleazy dive (it's no longer there). The bartenders served my friends and me alcohol from around age sixteen on. If you don't remember the cocaine line in this song, it's this, "Lines on the mirror, lines on her face."

"Cocaine Blues," Johnny Cash

It seems like Johnny Cash was around too long ago to have sung a song about cocaine, but indeed he did. Joaquin Phoenix sang it again in the movie, Walk the Line.

"Casey Jones," The Grateful Dead

Even if you don't follow The Dead, you probably know this song, right? It's the one with the line, "Drivin' that train, high on cocaine."

"White Horse," Wonderland Avenue

This was a song I used to hear in dance clubs in San Francisco when I lived in Berkeley. It's a perfect dance song because it has a great, repetitive, thumping beat. "White Horse" is slang for heroin, apparently, but the song also references "White Pony," which I've been told is slang for cocaine.

There are many, many more songs about cocaine out there. The Rolling Stones have one called, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," but it's not a song I love so I'm not putting it on this list!

Jessica Anya Blau and The Wonder Bread Summer links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

All Things Considered review
Baltimore Fishbowl review
Kirkus review review
Publishers Weekly review

Baltimore Fishbowl interview with the author
Baltimore Sun interview with the author
CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Drinking Closer to Home
My Book, The Movie guest post by the author
The Nervous Breakdown interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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)
musician/author interviews
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

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