September 27, 2013
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.
Paul Kwiatkowski's And Every Day Was Overcast is an inventive coming-of-age novel, lyrically and visually rich. The prose is interspersed with the author's own photographs, which complement the narrative perfectly.
Publishers weekly wrote of the book:
"Kwiatkowski writes in vignettes and verbal tableaux, supplementing the narrative with the photos, and vice versa. Vibrant and original."
And Every Day Was Overcast is based on my teenage years in the '90s, growing up in the swampy suburbs of South Florida. Those days were weird and suffocating. We needed to be imaginative as to not be consumed by strip mall boredom. Music played a major role in staving off alienation.
Chronological vignettes intersect with "Retard Radio," a storyline that runs through the entire book. It's about that kid who exists in every school – the one who is singled out and bullied ad nauseam, the kid who to this day haunts our sense of empathy. In my story that kid's name is Cobain. His escape from subjection is through hidden worlds of white noise emoting from his beloved CB radio.
The book's soundtrack, a layered mixture of original music, samples, and my own field recordings from Florida, is an audio-based narrative about Cobain tuning out the traumas of abuse by slipping between dimensions of shortwave radio static and interrupted broadcasts signals, sort of like when the little girl in Poltergeist is trapped inside television static but her family can still hear her in different rooms within the house.
Listen to "Face Breaker," a track from the soundtrack for And Every Day Was Overcast:
My playlist is split into two parts. The first is a reflection of what I listened to for inspiration while writing And Every Day Was Overcast and composing the soundtrack, and the other directly relates to what I listened to as a teenager.
PART I: Inspiration
Tim Hecker, "I'm Transmitting Tonight"
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, "Welk"
Calla, "Hover Over Nowhere"
Boris With Michio Kurihara "....E, Eu Quero"
Belong, "Keep Still"
Dead Texan, "When I See Scissors, I Cannot Help But Think of You"
PART II: The Wonder Years
Christian Death, "Dream for Mother."
Cannibal Corpse, "Hammer Smashed Face"
Ministry, "So What"
Blue Oyster Cult, "Don't Fear the Reaper"
Faith No More, "Kindergarten"
The Dillinger Escape Plan, "Mullet Burden"
Deftones, "7 Words"
Pantera, "I'm Broken"
Part I: Inspiration
"Spectral" Tim Hecker
I started writing AEDWO not too long after moving to Brooklyn. One night, I took acid and rode my bike over the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side. I remember looking at New York City at night from a distance and thinking I was careening toward a sparkly object that would forever alter me if I stayed inside too long. Tim Hecker's Radio Amour was what I had playing on my headphones. Each time I hear "Spectral" I think of that weightless pull.
"Welk" Bohren und der Club der Gore
This is come down jazz, the good feeling right before the sickening one. In an ideal world this is what would play late at night in seedy bars and strip clubs.
"Hover Over Nowhere" Calla
If I had to pick my top three favorite albums, Calla's Scavengers would be number one. "Hover Over Nowhere" is the type of exquisitely rendered lovesick jewel I aimed to capture in my writing. Each song is beautifully paced, spare and sublime. Scavengers functions on the same level of emotional intensity as Anthony Doer's The Shell Collector or Dennis Cooper's best prose.
"Empathy" The Swans
This is from the Swans album Soundtracks for The Blind, one of the primary influences behind how I wanted the Overcast soundtrack to operate. I'm sure most Swans fan wouldn't consider "Empathy" to be the best representation of their sound but it's my favorite track. It coasts from quietly lush to a thundering trademark Swans crescendo and back to an elegant lovelorn croon. I thought a lot about this track when I wrote/composed the chapters/tracks for First Signal and Attempt Failed.
"....E, Eu Quero" Boris with Michio Kurihara
This song brings to mind something I haven't even lost yet like a daydream you don't want to wake up from. You will yourself back asleep just to catch a cluster of gauzy images before they flicker out.
"Keep Still" Belong
Experiencing this song reminds me of the dirty head rush associated with anticipating a major fall out.
"When I See Scissors, I Cannot Help But Think of You" Dead Texan
One of the most sweeping pieces of ambient music ever created. Completely magical and other worldly, reminds me of coasting down crystal clear springs of the Ichetucknee River watching the evening sky change colors through layers of overhanging Spanish moss.
"Tropics" has a slithering loungy sound that is faintly off like the hazy anxiety behind passing infatuation. The vocals sound like you're under the sway of a junked out choirboy enticing you to go someplace from which you won't come back.
Part II: The Wonder Years
"Dream for Mother" Christian Death
Christian Death always felt like goth rock composed under palm trees: sleazy, sexually ambiguous, charged. I knew they were from Los Angeles but everything about them feels very Miami in a way that you don't know if you're about to get your dick sucked or stabbed.
"Hammer Smashed Face" Cannibal Corpse
I'd never heard of Cannibal Corpse until Bob Dole slammed them and 2 Live Crew for "Undermining America's national character." This was the best press a provocateur could hope for. To most people, the music sounds like a Weedwacker jammed into a backed-up toilet. But Cannibal Corpse's dedication to playing physically exhausting music and technical precision is all about performing at a higher standard regardless of who is listening. If Cannibal Corpse weren't such vagina repellant I'd probably be more vocal about my sustained love for them. I can't think of a more deserving band to break into the Top 40.
"So What" Ministry
William Burroughs and Ministry were the two creative forces that prepared my imagination for a new cannon of artists. Hearing the Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and reading Naked Lunch for the first time in tenth grade gave me the same feeling Japanese kids must've felt just before they started to convulse from watching too much "Pokemon." "So What" is the ultimate teen delinquent anthem.
"Don't Fear the Reaper" Blue Oyster Cult
This song played constantly throughout my childhood. To this day whenever I go back to Florida I hear it blasting from every garage, boat, pickup, and gas station. I always found it strange that a song so haunting and experimental became a unilaterally recognized classic rock masterpiece. If the Beach Boys were from Florida this is how I imagine they'd sound.
"Kindergarten" Faith No More
For me, this song has always evoked an image of marching toward something you know will never improve unless you walk away from it entirely, distant and cold as the first day of school.
"The Mullet Burden" The Dillinger Escape Plan
The first time I heard "Mullet Burden" the hairs on my arm stood. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I listened to it over and over trying to find buried moments of poetry swirling in that complex vortex of noise. Not since the heyday of early Metallica had heavy metal/hardcore music been elevated to a level of virtuosity.
"7 Words" The Deftones
I can't think of any song that more clearly bottles the mood-swing rage of adolescence. Vocally, it reminds me of the sexiest hooks of a Depeche Mode song wrung out into a visceral scream. Shame they got lumped into the rap metal garbage heap. They're still one of my favorites bands.
"I'm Broken" Pantera
As a 13 year old the only place I could discover new heavy music was on Headbanger's Ball, which aired well past my bedtime on Sunday. I usually recorded it onto VHS and woke up early Monday morning to see what was new and interesting and what I could scam from music clubs like BMG and Colombia House. I was completely beside myself the first time I heard "I'm Broken." It was like before that moment my head was stuffed with soggy tissues. For the first time I pulled my head out of my ass. That morning I went to school angry and never changed.
Paul Kwiatkowski and And Every Day Was Overcast links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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