June 18, 2015
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Jesse Goolsby's debut novel I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them offers impressive insight how modern warfare affects the lives of its combatants and those closest to them.
Robert Olen Butler wrote of the book:
"Not only is Jesse Goolsby one of the very rare authors who writes with authoritative insight into the warfare of the 21st century, he does so with an even deeper insight into the profound yearning for connection, for identity, that drives us all. Goolsby is a consummate artist, and the publication of I’d Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them is a major literary event."
Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.
There are 15 chapters in I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them and specific music-artist-song references in almost every chapter, which has me wondering: did I subconsciously write my novel around the Book Notes possibility? While working on the novel I turned to a steady dose of Deftones, The Tragically Hip, Shelby Lynne, Travis, and Tool. Some of those artists made it into the novel, as you can see below, but it seems most fun to stick with a literal, chapter-by-chapter mix tape. Where else can you get Boyz II Men next to Croce next to Radiohead? Thank you very much to Largehearted Boy for this opportunity. Here are the songs listed with their corresponding chapters and a little context.
“The Power of Love” by Celine Dion = BE POLITE BUT HAVE A PLAN TO KILL EVERYONE YOU MEET
Where: A remote valley, Afghanistan.
How: Celine gets name-dropped early in the first chapter while soldiers wait for prosthetic limbs to fall from the sky.
Personal anecdote: My mother played Dion’s The Colour of My Love CD on repeat one summer, and yes, I loved it. Also, I recall the intensity of my fascination with spelling of “colour” at twelve years-old.
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica = TOP OF THE WORLD
Where: Inside a 1985 lifted Ford Bronco parked in a forest, Plumas County, California.
How: Kristen matches James Hetfield’s vocals on this epic track as she waits for Wintric to shoot his .38 special.
Personal anecdote: Slow dancing to this song at my Junior prom with the girl I wanted to be dancing with and not thinking, “Who the hell requested this?” but rather, “Thank god this song is six and a half minutes long.”
“Does Anybody Know What Time it Really Is?” by Chicago = POLLICE VERSO
Where: A living room, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
How: Armando brings the trombone to his lips to play for his mother.
Personal anecdote: One of my father’s favorite bands, especially their debut Chicago Transit Authority. In my grandmother’s home, the famous Chicago logo was painted across the guest room closet doors.
“I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men = NEUTRAL DROPS
Where: Inside a 1984 Toyota Camry, Rutherford, New Jersey.
How: Dax cranks this song after some Notorious B.I.G. to taunt the backseat action from his passengers.
Personal anecdote: Every time I hear this song I’m surprised that it lacks a deep-voiced Michael McCary spoken bridge, the type of move that elevates “End of the Road” and “On Bended Knee” to their mid-90’s glory. But the video does have the incredible plot of a security company owner setting off the alarm he just installed for his beautiful client so she can read the love letter he copied from the Boyz II Men CD booklet lyrics of…wait for it…“I’ll Make Love to You.” Meta and insane!
“Dissident” by Pearl Jam = UNBOMB
Where: A checkpoint, Afghanistan.
How: To fill the boredom, Torres listens to some early Pearl Jam behind a wall of sandbags before the girl appears in the distance.
Personal anecdote: “Daughter” and this gem from Vs. got me through my first half-marathon. It’s not for a lack of trying, but I don’t know what to do with Vitalogy.
“Take it Easy” by Eagles = TATTOO
Where: Casino bar, Elko, Nevada.
How: Near drunk and about to approach a woman at the bar, Dax thinks about playing up the “just home from war” angle, Eagles in the background.
Personal anecdote: My father loved “Desperado,” so I did. Then, The Dude’s taxi declaration in The Big Lebowski.
“Jesus of Suburbia” by Green Day = TOUCH
Where: Earphones, Canoe Creek Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
How: Part of Armando’s exercise soundtrack as he runs the punishing hills near the Front Range of the Rockies.
Personal anecdote: I once heard the entire American Idiot album play from the Pentagon gym’s speakers while working out.
“Change (In the House of Flies)” by Deftones = METATARSAL
Where: An apartment, Chester, California.
How: Wintric and Kristen’s reunion, the song plays as she leans into him and strokes the back of his neck.
Personal anecdote: In the summer of 2000, just after White Pony came out, my friend Mark and I had tickets to a Deftones concert in Denver, but as we waited in line we sold them, then went drinking. I’ll never understand the rationale for such a move. The Deftones latest, Koi No Yokan, is genius.
“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers = REDWOODS
Where: Inside a 1999 Ford Taurus, outside Whiskeytown, California.
How: Kristen sings at full volume, equal parts exhilaration and regret as she drives alone to the coast.
Personal anecdote: Song blaring while I’m in full sing-along rapture, then police lights in my rearview. A Saturday morning speeding ticket in Albuquerque, New Mexico for going 51 mph in a 45 mph zone.
“I Got a Name” by Jim Croce = SAFETY
Where: Inside a 1997 Honda Civic, Andalusia, Alabama.
How: Sim nails the chorus as Dax shakes the nerves out from a cottonmouth encounter.
Personal anecdote: When I was thirteen I was stung by a wasp at the Taylorsville Rodeo. The damn thing got me on my neck. While recovering in the stands I recall Croce interrupting a run of George Strait and Travis Tritt.
“Street Sprit (Fade Out)” by Radiohead = RESURRECTING A BODY HALF
Where: Imagined, Chicago hotel, floor 23.
How: Armando waits and stares at the elevator doors, hoping for a late-night sexual miracle.
Personal anecdote: While living in England in my mid-twenties I bought two guitars and promised myself that I’d learn how to play. I listened to a lot of Radiohead and Oasis. I learned three chords, and sold the guitars within two years. The Bends is still my favorite Radiohead.
“Bobcaygeon” by The Tragically Hip = NO DOORBELL
Where: Inside a 1999 Ford Taurus, passing through Evanston, Wyoming.
How: This song blasts out of the factory speakers as Wintric imagines his revenge and repeats the phrase he’s been chanting across the Great Basin, “Easy if you want it.”
Personal anecdote: My wife Sarah is from Kingston, Ontario, hometown of The Hip. But I was introduced to this amazing band years before I met Sarah by my Uncle Jeff, the same man who painted the Chicago logo on the guest room closet doors in my grandmother’s home. Plus, a deep love of The Hip means connecting with Canadians everywhere, including the magnificent Catherine Parnell; the proof here.
“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Shelby Lynne = THIRTEEN STEPS
Where: Imagined, public pool, staring at lifeguard, Farmington, New Mexico.
How: Fahran thirteen year-old lust in mid-summer. Her name is Kylie.
Personal anecdote: This Dusty Springfield cover is a heart-breaking ballad. I played Lynne’s Just a Little Lovin’ over and over during my time in the north Georgia mountains at the Hambidge Center while finishing this novel.
“Lights” by Journey = TWO THINGS FROM A BURNING HOUSE
Where: An apartment, Cortez, Colorado.
How: Mia and her daughter Taylor study at the kitchen table, the Journey anthem from the bedroom stereo.
Personal anecdote: A very early memory—maybe I’m four?—of standing in the hallway of our home in Colusa, California, and watching my parents dance to this song in the living room.
“A Case of You” (Live) by Diana Krall = WYOMING IS A GUN IN HIS WAISTBAND
Where: Imagined, frozen food aisle, Holiday market, Chester, California.
How: Wintric recognizes the possibility of being alone and the deep yearning to never lose Kristen.
Personal anecdote: A Joni Mitchell cover, and another heart-breaker. I played this concert clip once for a Freshman English Composition course expecting tears or tender manifestations of appreciation; instead: “She kind of looks like Ali Larter!” And damn it, they were right.
Jesse Goolsby and I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (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
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
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)