October 23, 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.
Bill Roorbach's The Remedy for Love is a compelling novel that features two disparate, damaged characters thrown together in a Maine snowstorm.
Kirkus wrote of the book:
"Lyrical, reserved and sometimes unsettling—and those are the happier moments. Another expertly delivered portrait of the world from Roorbach (Life Among Giants, 2012, etc.), that poet of hopeless tangles."
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
There's not much music in The Remedy for Love. That's because the protagonists are trapped in a cabin during a record-setting snowstorm. Eric has lost his phone with its extensive playlists; Danielle has lost everything. And now these two strangers have to ride it out together… But of course we carry songs in our heads, and wouldn't it be nice to access them whole, some kind of brain-tunes chip. Instead, by association, no effort or implants involved, songs arrive by themselves, always tied to some memory, some whiff of fragrance, or snatch of talk. Danielle's got her mind on the beach. Eric thinks he's the positive one—but every song in his head spells doom. I'll alternate between the wintry mindset of Eric and Danielle's imaginary beach:
Rolling Stones, "Winter." From that album with a photo of Mick under some kind of sheer cloth. Looks like a fancy lady's hat? That one? Goat's Head Soup. The album with "Angie" on it. And "Winter" shares that sound, though it might easily be thought of as filler, a great bluesy feel and Mick a little subdued, just how Eric feels.
The Killers, "Bones." It mentions the beach all right:
We took a back road, we're gonna look at the stars
We took a back road in my car
Down to the ocean, it's only water and sand
And in the ocean, we'll hold hands
But I don't really like you
Apologetically dressed and in the best put on a heartbeat line
Without an answer, the thunder speaks for the sky
And on the cold, wet dirt I cry
And on the cold, wet dirt I cry
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Winterlong."
Eric is such an immense Neil Young fan, like the rest of us, maybe a little disgusted with Neil for taking off with Darryl Hannah, but he's more judgmental than Danielle, who thinks Neil looks like someone's mad grandfather but can do whatever he wants, so shut up…
Neil Young, "On the Beach."
Not exactly a pastoral. Such a dark song, with its foot-dragging beat, and Neil's great lonely guitar.
Harry Nilsson "Snow." Danielle's got Eric in a dark mood himself. But he's always found this song so soothing, and Harry Nilsson so tragic and fascinating, all that fifth Beatle stuff. He never listened to the lyrics closely, but from now on he will, and darkly:
Snow fills the fields we used to know
And the little park where we would go
Sleeps far below in the snow.
Gone, it's all over and you're gone
But the memory lives on
Although on dreams lie buried in the snow.
Sometimes the wind blows through the trees
And I think I hear you calling me
But all I see is...
Snow everywhere I go
As the cold winter sun sinks low
I walk alone through the snow.
The Drifters, "Under the Boardwalk." She always loved the name Drifters, and just something about "Under the Boardwalk," especially for someone who grew up going to the Jersey Shore, really gets to her—but what gets to her is the love part, that this happy couple has snuck off on hot sand and away from everyone to where they can be themselves…
Leonard Cohen, "Avalanche." Eric's confused, maybe always been, a little, about who he really might be. He's the one who's out there saving everyone from themselves, true enough, but in fact it's he who's needed rescue, never more than now… He needs to reverse the genders in this song he loves, having always assumed the wrong role in the story it contains…
Well I stepped into an avalanche, it covered up my soul; when I am not this hunchback that you see, I sleep beneath the golden hill. You who wish to conquer pain, you must learn, learn to serve me well. You strike my side by accident as you go down for your gold. The cripple here that you clothe and feed is neither starved nor cold; he does not ask for your company, not at the center, the center of the world.
Joni Mitchell: "Help Me." Danielle's secret, guilty pleasure, hip-hop girl with the tough-guy loves who've pushed her around and pushed her away, the rap girl with a mouth full of Yo's, is this song, one of her favorites in the big pile of Joni Mitchell records her late mom adored. As a kid, Danielle, mourning, poured over the lyrics, studied every note, sang along in private, armed herself with Joni for a world so much less gentle than she'd thought.
And funny, gentle Eric loves Joni Mitchell's love songs, too, every one, so bittersweet at best. It'll take a long while before Eric and Danielle figure this out… But sharing a guilty pleasure is high compatibility.
Bill Roorbach and The Remedy for Love links:
CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
everyday eBook essay by the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Life Among Giants
Omnivoracious interview with the author
Portland Press Herald interview with the author
Portland Sun interview with the author
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