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September 12, 2017

Book Notes - Chelsea Martin "Caca Dolce"

Caca Dolce

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

Chelsea Martin's essay collection Caca Dolce is filled with reminiscences funny, shocking, and totally relatable.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"Martin's honest writing exists above the confines of fear and social norms . . . Her writing is sweaty, uncomfortable, and enchanting . . . She taps into the consciousness of her past selves with precision and care, respecting the integrity and desires of those younger women. A sure hit for fans of Sara Benincasa’s Agorafabulous! and Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl."

In her own words, here is Chelsea Martin's Book Notes music playlist for her essay collection Caca Dolce:

Caca Dolce is a collection of personal essays in chronological order, starting from age six when I accidentally discovered sex while watching Child’s Play and ending in my early-twenties when I decided to disown my father. I listened to a lot of music while writing this book. It was a really effective way get into the mood of an experience or trigger more memories. For this playlist I chose a song for each essay that helped me get into the mood/vibe of the time period.

Child’s Play – “Song for Whoever” The Beautiful South
My mom was into British pop when I was a little kid, and I absolutely loved this jokey meta song because it had my mom’s name in it and the names of a few other people I knew, and I thought that was so cool. The song has had a weirdly enduring relevance in my life, especially re: exploiting my loved ones while writing this book. The number one I hope to reap / depends upon the tears you weep / so cry, lover, cry. Like, damn.

The Meaning of Life – “Virtual Insanity” Jamiroquai
As a kid who loved aliens and space and computers and music videos, it should surprise no one that my favorite band from ages 10-13 was Jamiroquai. I was into them to such a degree that I even convinced myself that I liked (loved?) their early didgeridoo-heavy drug-themed material. I loved each of their songs with a level of blind loyalty previously unknown to me, but I chose Virtual Insanity for this list because, in retrospect, it’s the only song that holds up. This band kind of sucks. (Sorry, Chels.)

Vandal – “My Name Is” Eminem
The boys my friends and I hung out with between toilet papering houses were heavily into The Slim Shady LP. It would always be playing from a 3-foot boom box that was taking up the top of whatever dude’s dresser. I was mortified and intrigued by these songs, but I couldn’t explain why and refused to figure out my complicated feelings. I stole the CD from my friend’s brother, hid it in my top dresser drawer, never listened to it even once, and threw it away the next time we moved.

Punks Not Dead – “Lost in the Supermarket” The Clash
I will always think of this as my mother’s anthem, and part of me believes that if I can decipher this song then I will finally understand her.

A Year Without Spoons – “Minus” Beck
Vh1 Top 20 Countdown wasn’t doing it for me anymore and I didn’t have friends and my aunts were still listening to The Cranberries and that shit hurt my ears and I didn’t know how else to find music. So what I did was go into record stores and pick out albums based on their cover art. Beck’s Odelay featured what I thought at the time was a rug but I guess is actually a dog jumping over a thing you jump over, however you call that thing. The rug intrigued me, and the album changed my life. “Minus” was my very favorite song. This chaotic, exciting, nonsense song with a weird, slow-ass break in the middle and that ended with Beck screaming “frogs” several times was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. Because? Because you didn’t necessarily need a ‘because.’ The world doesn’t make sense, people don’t make sense, lyrics don’t make sense, there’s always a weird buzzing sound coming from somewhere, and sometimes it feels fucking good to scream ‘frogs.’ The more you know.

Voluntary Responses to Involuntary Sensations – “Charlotte Sometimes” The Cure
When we were figuring out permissions to use lyrics in this essay, my editor, Yuka Igarashi, discovered some blog posts from Penelope Farmer, the author of the book Charlotte Sometimes, which this song was heavily inspired by (i.e directly stolen from). But Penelope Farmer couldn’t really do anything about it because copyright laws for art are/were pretty vague, and didn’t protect long works as well as it did shorter ones. Anyway, it was an interesting thing to learn about as we tried to get permission from The Cure to use lyrics from this song, barely their words in the first place. We didn’t get permission and I had to change the way I was quoting them.

Goth Ryan – “To Sheila” The Smashing Pumpkins
The ONLY thing I listened to while writing this essay was The Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore album, particularly “To Sheila.” It’s such a stripped-down and lonely sounding love song, which is sort of the vibe I was going for in this essay. Billy Corgan sings, “you make me real,” as if he’s watching his love interest, who he has never spoken to, through the window of her apartment, as he stands outside in the rain in his brand new Hot Topic trench coat. Me at 15 in a nutshell.

Ceramic Busts – “Frontin on Debra” Beck, Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z
I’m gonna do a Pharrell remix of another Beck song for this one, because I don’t know how to convey to you how important Beck was to me other than to keep talking about him. This remix/cover is actually so much better than Beck’s original song, ‘Debra.’ Opening lines: Don’t wanna sound full of myself or rude / But you ain’t lookin at no other dudes / Cuz you love me. Amazing. I also love this confessional stuff from Jay-Z: Every time your name was brought up / I would act all nonchalant in front of an audience / Like if you was just another shorty I put the naughty on / But, uh, truth be told you threw me for a loop.

A Scrap of Hello Kitty Notepaper – “American Music” Violent Femmes
I bought a couple Violent Femmes live albums on a whim. I had heard “Blister in the Sun” and loved it so much that I decided to give their entire live discography a try. “American Music” was definitely my main song for a little while in high school. This song includes what is possibly my favorite lyric in all of history: Every time I look at that ugly moon / It reminds me of you.

Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker – “Fuck the Pain Away” Peaches
One redeeming aspect of driving down California with my batshit biological father was that he played this song a few dozen times.

How to Bullshit – “Konichiwa Bitches” Robyn
What I don’t mention in this depressing, money-centric, college tuition essay is that this was the best, most fun, least stressful time of my life. I’d go to the weaving studio at school and hang out on a loom for ten hours then go home and make chili cheese fries from 100% frozen ingredients then dance my heart out to Konichiwa Bitches with my very best friend and roommate, William. It was the single most pure time in my life and for sure worth every penny of my one-tenth-of-a-million-dollars education, despite how much I bitch about it now.

Man-Hater – “Hey Ya” Outkast
Ah yes, the poppy dance-y, breakup track that my high school boyfriend and I inexplicably labeled as “our song” throughout our relationship. Idk, I think it’s kinda sweet that we didn’t wanna meet each other’s mama.

Trashy Coming-of-Age Story – “And She Was” Talking Heads
Wow, I didn’t realize how emotionally draining it would be to make this playlist. Funny thing about writing a book about yourself is that you then have to talk a lot about yourself to promote it and you feel like you’ve already said all there is to say. “And She Was” is representative of the time period in this essay because it played a lot at the café I worked at during my duster phase. I’ve tried pretty hard to “get into” Talking Heads and I still, just, you know… I know it’s great music and I love to hear it but I never choose to play it.

Romantic Comedy – “Just Wait Til Next Year” John Maus
I was listening to this song a lot whilst falling in love with my friend. John Maus is also one of the only musicians my friend (who I’m still in love with) and I are both really into.

Zeigeist – “Electric Feel” MGMT
A big factor when trying to stir up feelings from a time period is to listen to songs that you stopped listening to after the time period in question. It’s a pure time capsule. Electric Feel is alllllll summer 2008 for me.

Evolution and Maybe Death – “I Want Her She Wants Me” The Zombies
My friend who I’m in love with, who I was in love with during the time covered in this essay, while I was seeing someone else, introduced me to The Zombies. At first I didn’t even realize they were old school, because he was into a lot of indie fake retro shit and because it sounds so timeless to me.

I Lost a Tooth at Work – “Did You See The Words” Animal Collective
I don’t remember listening to anything in particular while writing this or living this so I’m going to go with one of my go-to writing session songs. Fun fact: I listen to Animal Collective 80-90% of the time I write. This has been true for the past 4-5 years. Ain’t nothing in the world that makes me feel more free.

The Man Who Famously Inspired This Essay – “Guys Eyes” Animal Collective
What do you listen to when you’re being stalked by your shitty biological parent who you’re trying to disown? What do you listen to while remembering it? What do you listen to when said shitty biological parent, the who came into your life for the first time just before your adulthood, refuses to go away? Straight up refuses to be the fuck disowned no matter what you say or don’t say or try to clear up in an email? Let’s see here... Something soft and soothing? An emotional ballad to weep over? ASMR tapping and scratching tracks? Nah, man. You double down on the Animal Collective, the only thing in your life that has never disappointed you, even when they made a song about masturbating. You put on something really layered and rhythmic. Something uplifting but not at all poppy. Something about masturbating.

Chelsea Martin and Caca Dolce links:

the author's website
excerpt from the hub
excerpt from the book

Booklist review
Kirkus review

Electric Literature interview with the author
Fanzine interview with the author
Nylon interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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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

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