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December 22, 2014

Book Notes - Jamie Coe "Art Schooled"

Art Schooled

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, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jamie Coe's graphic novel Art Schooled is a cutting yet heartfelt look at post-secondary art education, an impressive coming-of-age tale from a talented young cartoonist.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Much like Clowes’ Ghost World (1997), this is an entertaining, cutting commentary on outsiders who long for a unique and distinguishing experience but who are never satisfied once they finally attain it. This hilarious and poignant takedown of art-school culture is a great fit for the artistically inclined among the new adult crowd."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Jamie Coe's Book Notes music playlist for his graphic novel Art Schooled:


Burial – "Homeless"

When I hear this song it reminds me of living in London as an art student, in a grim (but fun) flat in Elephant & Castle, when my flatmate would play the album this is from, a lot. It somehow captures the urban grittiness of living in the city and the 'away from home' feeling that you can feel when first moving away from home. My protagonist, Daniel goes through some rather extensive self discovery during his time at art school and I think the song evokes a strong sense of the jittery coming-of-age transformation I was trying to communicate.

Lootpack – "Whenimondamic"

I listened to hip hop more than any genre of music whilst at art school (and probably still do). There's a section of Art Schooled where my protagonist mocks art school student stereotypes, and one of them is 'The Hip Hop Stoner Student'. Embarrassingly, a lot of that character was mocking my younger self. This is a great song to limp-walk to.

Etta James – "At Last"

People usually have a few songs that just make them feel...good, and this is definitely one for me. It instantly leaves an annoyingly satisfied child-like grin on my face. Maybe not the most original choice of song, but hey, its a classic for a reason. If I had to put this as a soundtrack to a scene in the book, it would be 'First Day of My Three Year Degree'.

Clams Casino – "One Last Thing (Instrumental)"

I listened to a lot of Clams Casino instrumentals whilst working on the book, there's something really reflective and cinematic about his music. It's great for a melancholic over-thinking of life whilst drawing. You can always play something more upbeat and happy after.

O'Jays - "Love Train"

...You can play something like this! Hell yes. I'm on the 'love train' every time I hear this deliciously cheesy song. As a soundtrack to a chapter of the book, I would contrast it with the scene where Daniel awkwardly punches someone in the throat (towards the end of the book, if you've read it, you'll know what I mean).

Mobb Deep – "The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)"

This is probably my favourite song of my favourite hip-hop album (not sure if that makes it my favourite song of all time but it's up there). It's dark, rough and full of angst – I love the way the instrumental is such a simple repetitive sample but the drum beat and lyrics by Havoc and Prodigy make it one monster of a well-oiled machine.

Velvet Underground – "Venus in Furs"

I had to put this song in, not because it's one of my favourites, but because it is such an art school song. I would play this as the soundtrack to the scene 'A Class of Their Own', where Daniel analyses his art school piers. The song has a creepy, distorted and unfamiliar feel that matches Daniel's outlook at the time.

Bob Marley – "High Tide Or Low Tide"

Like Art Schooled protagonist, Daniel, I struggled with anxieties at university (I think a lot of people do, right?), and this song is a metaphorical blanket, warm fire, cookies and warm coco that makes my soul feel better when times are hard. Definitely spent many hungover mornings listening to this song before slithering out of bed and going to art school.

"Action Bronson – Shiraz"

...'cus this song is dope. Nuff' said.

Jon Brion – "Peer Pressure"

This is actually from the soundtrack of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so I'm kind of cheating here (sue me). I love minimalist piano music like this (Phillip Glass etc although I have an extremely limited knowledge of musicians within this genre, so don't test me) and it seems to have a powerful emotional effect on me for some reason; it manages to make me feel uplifted, almost happy but also sad and fragile at the same time. I would put this song as the soundtrack for the last few panels of the scene 'That Evening' in 'Art Schooled', where Daniel is left sitting in the snow.

James Brown - "People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul"

How can you not have a funk track on a soundtrack? This song is dangerous to your personal image / reputation if listened to in public (especially when it's with your ear-phones so only you can hear) because you WILL dance. At least toe tap. This has to be the funkiest of the funky funk songs, seriously. I am listening to it whilst writing this so apologies for the over enthusiastic writing. OW!

The Beatles -" Blackbird"

I would play this for the ending scene of the book, called 'NOW'. The book leaves the core characters with progressed relationships and attitudes to where they were at the start of their university experience. The song makes me feel a sense of change which suits the idea of ending a chapter of their lives but looking onto the next one.


Jamie Coe and Art Schooled links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Entertainment Weekly review
Library Journal review


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

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

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)
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


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