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June 5, 2015

Book Notes - Joshua Braff "The Daddy Diaries"

The Daddy Diaries

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, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Adam Langer wrote of the book:

"Honest and heartfelt, Joshua Braff's novel about the perils of 21st century fatherhood contains more moments of truth than several hundred bestselling memoirs or self-help books. The wry humor and compulsive readability may remind readers of Jonathan Tropper or Nick Hornby, but the hard-won wisdom and disarming vulnerability in The Daddy Diaries is all Braff's own."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Joshua Braff's Book Notes music playlist for his novel The Daddy Diaries:


"Annie’s Song" – John Denver

Not sure I know a prettier song that evokes true love better. The Daddy Diaries is about love on many levels. The love of your children, your wife, the friends you still have from when you were a kid. I hear this as a love song to a lover but the feeling I get when I hear it is one of the moment we feel when we realize we’re over the hump, and falling into the abyss, with another human.

You fill up my senses – Like a night in a forest.
Come let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms

"Can’t Find My Way Home" – Blind Faith

This is a song about drug addiction. Come down off your throne and leave your body alone. Somebody must change. But I hear it as a moment in any person’s young life where you have no idea where home might really be. Mom and Dad are different now because you’ve realized they won’t be able to help/lift/solve/rescue you the way they used to. In fact, they might make it worse. Maybe you’re cut off. Time passes and hopefully home is redefined, and accessible for you to rebuild. The family in the novel is displaced, plopped into an environment that isn’t ideal for them. I can hear the main character saying, Still, I can’t find my home.

"Don’t Wanna Fight" – Alabama Shakes

In The Daddy Diaries a contemporary marriage is a big focus point. And any couple that’s been together for eight minutes knows what this sentiment feels like, even burns like. Freud said married couples become strangers when they part for even a day. A modern family can be apart much longer. Don’t you think long term marriage deserves to be honored as a religion, say, more than Scientology. One is forced to find balance throughout the span of a lifetime, in theory, and it must unfold in healthy, thoughtful ways or the train will gladly and swiftly become derailed. Without working on your union, you die. You have to think, learn, empathize and grow in the same house, the same room. I never wanna fight. But it happens. I saw Alabama Shakes twice while I lived in St. Petersburg, FL, the setting for The Daddy Diaries.

My life, your life, don’t cross them lines
What you like, what I like
Why can’t we both be right.

The Golden Girls Theme Song – Not Sure

In the novel the main character is alone at night and sort of stuck with his darkening thoughts. He turns on The Golden Girls and his mind drifts from his grief by riding the very loud and yellow light that is this hit sitcom from the 80’s. One can feel both charged and wholeheartedly depressed watching a live audience show about a house of old and seemingly forgotten ladies in neon-ish 80’s jumpsuits. The theme song reminds you viscerally of what’s coming - a slew of well timed setups that lead to wisecracks, punch lines or witty odes to the political tides of the Reagan administration. For me it’s the winner of the show I’d most like to see pop up while hanging out with the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten. Only he could eviscerate it well enough.

Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.

"Have A Drink On Me" – AC/DC

The band became my first medication from a religious and dubious upbringing. There was escapism in just owning Back in Black. In The Daddy Diaries there’s a moment in the car when he realizes his son, who’s been unusually distant, likes this particular rock song. I’ve felt this in my real life, a moment in which to share something powerfully musical with my children without speaking at all. It reminds you that your brain is theirs too and you’ve been pouring songs into them since birth. Beatles, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, CCR, U2, Led Zep, The Stones, The Dead and yes, Angus Young and brother Malcolm. The book mentions that my son is me and I am him. What an interesting relationship and certainly a complex one when observed so closely as one does when at home with the kids.

This particular song fit perfectly for the year I based this book on in Florida. Live in a beachy city that smells like vacation and you too will order that cool toddy all day long. I drank so many margaritas I ended up crashing my bike while attempting to ride and find the perfect song on my Ipod. I currently refrain from alcohol and bikes. The cranked up Boogie Woogie blues of Angus Young’s Gibson SG is all I’d take on that lonely dessert Island. And some Radiohead. And live Neil Young. Anyway, please, Have A Drink On Me. I’ll have a seltzer.

I’m dizzy drunk and fightin’
On Tequila white lightinin’
My glass is getting shorter
On whiskey ice and water
So c’mon and have a good time
And get blinded outta your mind
So don’t worry about tomorrow
Take it today
Forget about the check, we’ll get hell to pay
Have A Drink On Me!!!

"Codex" – Radiohead

Simply the saddest song I’ve ever heard. No matter what mood I might be in, by the end of this tune I’m pensive and on the floor. There are chapters in The Daddy Diaries in which the main character’s son is depressed and seemingly sinking. If I could play this song softly behind the pages I would. Pathos is one of my tools in writing. Used sparingly, like humor, it is received by readers with emotional arms.

Sleight of hand
Jump off the end
Into a clear lake
No one around

Just dragonflies
Fantasize
No one gets hurt
You’ve done nothing wrong

Slide your hand
Jump off the end
The water’s clear and innocent
The water’s clear and innocent


Joshua Braff and The Daddy Diaries links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Examiner interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Peep Show
San Diego Jewish Journal profile of the author
San Jose Mercury News profile of the author


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)
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
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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