May 16, 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.
Robert Glancy's novel Terms & Conditions is a darkly comic workplace novel with a unique twist, its protagonist is recovering from amnesia and is determined to change his life for the better.
Booklist wrote of the book:
"Delivered with a profusion of witty quips and tongue-in-cheek footnotes, Glancy's first novel is written with a wry humor that belies the poignant life lessons within."
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
Soul, Grunge and the Devil
Musical Inspiration for Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy
Robert Johnson & The Devil (the ultimate corporate lawyer!)
The protagonist of Terms & Conditions, Frank Shaw, is a Blues aficionado. He's a corporate lawyer in search of his soul (or what remains of it!). Frank and his father-in-law share rare vinyl and – in a similar way – I basically stole my Dad's Blues collection (sorry Dad!). Everything from Ledbetter to Billie Holiday to Son House.
Frank and I both share a love of the Blues, and in the book I include a warped version of the legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil (the ultimate contract!).
I also reference a song called "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," written by Harold Arlen and covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong and George Harrison. It sums up Frank's position, as he battles a civil war between what he's saying (in the real world) and what he's thinking (the fine print of his inner thoughts). In other words, he's horribly crushed between a rock and a hard place.
When the Blues Gets Too Sour Just Add A Spoonful of Sweet Soul: Lee Fields
I listened to Faithful Man a lot when writing Terms & Conditions. Fields is exactly the sort of soul man Frank would have known about and cherished, long before the world ‘re-discovered' him. I adore Fields' voice, each note coated with sweet soul-sugar yet filled with heartache and pain.
Malc's Playlist: Hip Hop with a side order of White-Boy Indie-Funk
Malc is based a bit on me when I was young, free and travelling. So his playlist would be my early nineties playlist (I mean, tape cassette compilation): Stone Roses "Fools Gold," Beastie Boys "Shake Your Rump," Teenage Fanclub "Get Funky," Radiohead "Just" and Tribe Called Quest "Stressed Out."
Frank's saviour is an actuary called Doug, who would definitely be an intimidatingly knowledgeable Jazz freak. I'm always a touch scared of Jazz, as it seems too gigantic to know where to start. But a friend recently gave me an album by Bill Evans and it's turned out to be a great place to start. Simple and emotional, it's exactly what Doug would kick back to on a Sunday afternoon while reading some impenetrable article about statistics.
Oscar's Soft Rock
Oscar is the man who makes Frank's life a nightmare. Oscar's musical tastes are far from sophisticated. He would be a big fan of the oddly named Def Leppard (Why name your band after an impaired animal? Why not Blind Impala or Mute Newt?). I imagine Oscar thumping a beat on the steering wheel of his Mercedes as he sings his heart out to some of Def Leppard's hysterical lyrics, ‘Don't call me gigolo, don't call me Casanova, just call me on the telephone and baby come on over.'
Scream Like You Fucking Mean It: Nirvana
In a pivotal chapter Frank realises he has to seize the day. When I was a young grunge nut, I saw Nirvana play Reading in 1992 and I still have my unclipped ticket for the Brixton Academy gig, which for obvious reasons never happened. And although I abandoned my angst and flannel shirts long ago, Kurt's scream can still kick-start a panic in my aging heart about how short life is.
So when Frank realised he needs to do something I – in parallel – realised I needed to finish my book, send it out and take a risk for a change (rather than just put it in my desk drawer to keep my other unfinished books company).
Having worn down Nirvana's albums with over-listening, I now spend far too much time searching for obscure live versions, hoping to find one of those raw moments that brings a song back to life for me. But one particular song, a B-side on "Teen Spirit," still holds its power: "Aneurism."
So when my motivation was a little groggy, I'd listen to that desperate howl rising up in the middle of "Aneurism" and think, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Now sit the fuck down and finish the book before it finishes you!'
And Sweet Candi Staton
When my inspiration tank was dry, I listened to Candi Staton's :You Got The Love.: I adore the funky original as well as The Source remix. The despair in her voice at the start and the way it resolves into pure elation – that's a magic no words can capture. You can't explain it; you can only feel it.
Robert Glancy and Terms & Conditions links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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