March 10, 2014
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.
Baseball stadiums across America are the map for Caryn Rose's road trip novel A Whole New Ballgame, an engaging book filed with memorable characters.
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
A Whole New Ballgame began as a short story that I couldn't manage to keep short. Once I realized that this was an idea that was going to go far beyond the 4,000 words originally allotted to it, I had to go back and dig into the characters more, creating elaborate rock and roll bona fides as I did, even if some of the songs or artists are never even alluded to. I don't seem capable of writing characters who don't love music in a way that's as essential to them as air or water. What follows is a list of tracks that either figured in the book or are essential to the characters, whether specifically mentioned or as background.
"You Can't Sit Down," The Dovells
There really isn't a more quintessential Philadelphia song than this classic by the Dovells, even though it was something that I, as a Mets fan, couldn't listen to during the years the Philadelphia Phillies were beating the heck out of us. Part of the scene in the book which mentions this song is stolen from an early Springsteen radio appearance in Philadelphia where he was so comfortable and loose that he happily performed a commercial for wine.
Sea Change, Beck
Laurie puts this to nurse her heartbreak and is gently admonished to choose something else as she drives home late at night. I once drove through the desert from LA to Albuquerque with a friend, as we were both getting over our own individual broken hearts. It was like time stood still as long as that album was playing. I didn't even realize that the entire car had stopped talking for the duration of the album until it was over and we stopped for gas. It is an absolutely amazing record but one you have to be very careful about when you listen to it if you are at all emotionally susceptible to music.
"Sitting On The Dock of The Bay," Otis Redding
Laurie Nicholson, the main character, grew up with parents who loved the blues, their favorite bands being the J. Geils Band (she's from Boston!) and the Faces. One of Laurie's earliest memories was her father singing Otis to her, trying to get her to go back to sleep.
"Ooh La La," The Faces
Laurie's mother's favorite band, and one of the bands often compared to the book's fictional rock band, the Moore Bros. In my mind, Laurie grew up with her parents trying to find the more family-friendly songs of their favorite bands to sing to her. I haven't met a kid yet who hasn't liked "Ooh La La" and imagined her growing up with her mom singing this to her.
"Detroit Breakdown," J. Geils Band
Laurie's father's favorite band. He would have been that guy who listened to the live album in the car all the time, and so she would have grown up knowing to sing the "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," parts on the chorus.
"Settled Down Like Rain," the Jayhawks
There was a half-written scene in Minneapolis that never got further than half-written which involved the actual Jayhawks meeting up with Peter and Eric at the Metrodome. That was enough for me to justify spending an afternoon going through their early records. Ultimately, the closest I got to working them into the story was Laurie's reference to "that Jayhawks song that's always on their pre-show tape" when talking about the Moore Bros.
"Kansas City," The Beatles
It was the first one I ever heard so it's where my brain goes whenever I think of it. No one who loves music doesn't go to KC without listening to the song at least once and going to take the obligatory photo at 12th & Vine, even if there's nothing there any more besides an empty lot masquerading as a park, and a Disney-fied street sign to give tourists something to take photos of.
"Go Cubs Go"
This is the "official" victory song of the Chicago Cubs. It figures prominently in the Chicago chapter of the novel, but the truth is that I hate "Go Cubs Go" and cannot actually listen to the song. I find it hysterical that it was replaced at one point by "Get Down Tonight" by KC and the Sunshine Band as the official team song, given the fact that there is nothing family friendly at all about that particular number, but it strikes me as the kind of thing the Cubs would do. Wrigley is one of my favorite ballparks and I don't mind the Cubs as long as they're not playing the Mets.
"Won't Get Fooled Again," The Who
I have many, many complaints about the New York Mets' audio-visual staff and their use of music during ballgames, but I do have to tip my hat when they do things right. Their use of this track during the 2006 playoffs was a spine-tingling moment that won't soon be forgotten. It was majestic and imposing and brought the whole ballpark to attention, and I tried to bring all of that to the playoffs chapters of the book.
Caryn Rose and A Whole New Ballgame links:
Brooklyn Daily profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for B-Sides and Broken Hearts
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Raise Your Hand: Adventures of an American Springsteen Fan in Europe
also at Largehearted Boy:
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)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists