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July 2, 2013

Book Notes - Rock Bottom Remainders "Hard Listening"


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.

Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All is one of the most interesting and fully realized enhanced e-books I have read. This literary band have included Dave Barry, Roy Blount, Jr., Matt Groening, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, and others, and they come together to share the group's history and highlights through stories, video, and music.

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

In the band members' own words, here is the Book Notes music playlist for the Rock Bottom Remainders' Hard Listening:

Amy Tan

I realized I never got back on the song choice. It was because I could not decide which of three was the most influential: "Bye Bye Love," which I sang with Kathi as "training wheels" for future performances and which made me realize I had to be laughable in a more intentional way; "Boots," which was intended to be laughable by making "Bend over, Boys," my mantra; or "The Slut Song," which had those intimate wink-wink grin-grin moments that Kathi, you, and I shared.

Today, last year, Kathi and I had our pajama party, when we did drugs (or rather she did), and talked about that guy with the one-hit wonder, "Brandy," who came on to her at a party, shattering her innocence as an adulating fan. Many laughs. I try to remember those kind of moments to not let sadness be the dominant feeling I have when thinking about her. But I also know that it's hard for you to not feel all that you miss 24 hours a day. So I send a big hug for your sadness.

Dave Barry

I'm going with "Mammer Jammer." For one thing, it rhymes "Mammer Hammer" with "hootenanny." Also it has this highly romantic lyric: "You got to do the Mammer Jammer, if you want my love."

Greg Iles

I had a blast playing lots of the songs we did, but thinking back over them, I choose "The Slut Song." Not only was it an original tune, but it was a story song, and Kathi cast a spell with it every time we played it. The band hung back and played with actual dynamics. You could feel the audience relate to every verse, and the punch lines always worked. In the middle Kathi would call my name for a solo and I'd pretend I knew some country licks. In the cacophony of 60s rock songs that made up most of our sets, "The Slut Song" sailed out into the crowd with the magical potency of authentic insight and feeling. When we played that song, we were a real band. Thanks, Kathi.

James McBride

"Nobody's Fault But Mine" by Rosetta Thorpe channeling thru Sam.

Mitch Albom

"Jailhouse Rock." The bum-bum on the drums announces it, and the opening line - "Warden threw a party in the county jail" - is a can't-miss mood setter. Plus, once you've taken your pants off, any song is more memorable.

Ridley Pearson

"Mr Tambourine Man," Byrds

The bass slide at the start of Tambourine Man gave me gooseflesh the first time I played it with Roger (a practice) and has ever since. Dave and I would meet eyes with s$&)-eating grins. A pinch-me moment -- every night.

Roger McGuinn

Mr. King singing and Tabby being the gypsy on "Love Potion #9"....oh wait a minute...i just dreamed that! Did hear it once on a bus in Washington DC.

Roy Blount, Jr.

I have to say "Wild Thing" because that's when I get to shine, and while I'm not sure the rest of the band's timing is always just right -- never mind, "Wild Thing" makes everything groovy.

Sam Barry

I always loved "Older Than Him" (aka "The Slut Song"). It's a great, funny song that Kathi wrote on a napkin in a bar with her friend Kathleen Enright, inspired by a handsome man walking by their table. When the Remainders performed it Amy and I would sing backup vocals, and we always struggled to remember the words, to the point that Amy once wrote them on her arm. I think it was her whipping arm.

Scott Turow

I'll go with the duo number, "Midnight Hour," and "6345789." (not to be confused with "8673409") I love these songs for many reasons:

A. They are pleasant reminders of the days when phone numbers were seven digits and thus I had a chance at remembering them.

B. During my guitar playing days (which I have artfully concealed from the band) "Midnight Hour" was the only song I sort of knew

C. Jeanine and Ridley always sound REALLY good

D. I never remembered on which verse I was supposed to point to my watch and Kathi never cared.

Stephen King

For me, it was "Werewolves of London." Warren insisted that I sing it, although I told him it was an awful spot to put me in, because he was the Original Werewolf, and no one ever did it better. He insisted, and when I saw him grinning like a fool and obviously having a good time, I loosened up and howled for all I was worth. I did it walking with the Queen, and my hair was perfect.

Ted Habt-Gabr

"And She Was," by the Talking Heads. When I first heard Scott sing this at rehearsal on my first gig producing the Remainders tours, I thought to myself, "How sweet, they're letting him sing at rehearsal." Then I saw the set list. I didn't do a gig with Matt Groening for a few more years, so I could very likely be picking a song Matt Groening sang, but I'm not sure he ever had one.

Nancy Jo Cullen and Hard Listening links:

the band's website
the band's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

All Tech Considered review
FEARnet review
The Truth Inside the Lie review

Google+ interview with the band
Reddit interview with the band

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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