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March 26, 2020

Beth Lisick's Playlist for Her Novel "Edie on the Green Screen"

Edie on the Green Screen

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 Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Beth Lisick's debut novel Edie on the Green Screen is impressive, filled with dark humor and often startling insight.

In her own words, here is Beth Lisick's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Edie on the Green Screen:

I wanted to write a book about a person who’d been entrenched in an art scene, but wasn’t much of an artist or a muse. The point of view of the audience. A participant in a different way. There’s a decent amount of music weaving itself through the story, though I intentionally left out band names and song titles when I wanted readers to hear their own music. Sometimes that’s more fun. That said, I couldn’t help but write a scene where a cover band at a chili cook-off in the parking lot of the Saddle Rack (country and western bar in Fremont) plays Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule”. I once experienced that and was so moved by how the singer obviously got to throw his pet song into the mix, despite his bandmates not being happy about it at all. He sang his guts out on that one. There’s also a moment where Edie drives her dead mom’s station wagon and sings along while blasting “Make It With You” by Bread. College radio is a huge deal to her (and to me) and she has this moment of homage:

All praise the patois of the college radio deejay! The sheer relaxation of delivery, the shuffling of papers on the mic, the stall for lost liner notes, the humble struggle to remember or pronounce a difficult band name, the laugh following the record skip, the dead air of an ill-timed bathroom break, the droll ramble of the public service announcement, and the promise that the next song up was going to blow your mind. Discovering KFJC meant that I said goodbye to my mom’s AM radio of traffic and weather together “on the eights” or mellow gold songs about angels in the morning and piña coladas. The college deejays sounded like people I wanted to meet, laid back and in-the-know, hot with some fresh tip, ear to the ground, curious, nerdy, not ashamed.

The Largest Elizabeth in the World
The Roches

The first time I remember tripping out on the concept of “a woman” was when I saw The Roches on Saturday Night Live. It was 1979, I was obsessed with Charlie’s Angels, and here were these three sisters—one looking like my elementary school librarian (you were fucking hip, Mrs. Eisenberg), another like a jewelry maker I saw at the Ren Faire, and the third, surely a gymnastics coach who owned a reptile. (I was 10. My world was small.) When I got a little older, I would call the radio station and request them. This song is for the young Edie who pits apricots in the remaining orchards in the valley and dreams of having a bigger life someday.

The Golden Age of Hustlers
Justin Vivian Bond

This song was written by San Francisco legend Bambi Lake, who saw me reading poetry at an open mic and asked me to open for her cabaret show at The Stud. Every time she sang this song I would be in tears. It can’t be repeated or stressed enough how important the city’s queer underground was to San Francisco’s art, music, and politics. Justin Vivian Bond came out of that scene and does this beautiful rendition. And Bambi is still with us! Her wit and wisdom is available in her book The Unsinkable Bambi Lake, co-authored with Alvin Orloff. A few years ago, Silas Howard (Transparent, Pose, High Maintenance) directed a music video that has a cameo by Bambi and can be seen here:

Molly Ringwald

Listen to this song and you can smell the warehouse shows of the ’90s. There were so many fantastically alive bands, almost all of them not currently available for streaming on Spotify. So happy to be able to share Fibulator on this list. They were lethal.

Jenny Hoyston
Deep Lines

If I had to pick one song that captures the vibe of the whole book for me, it’d be this one. Jenny was in one of my favorite bands, Erase Errata, and thank god she’s still making music. This is from her latest solo record Hold On, Loosely and is a glorious, haunting take on the coulda/woulda/shoulda theme.

Pharaoh Sanders
You’ve Got To Have Freedom

There’s a scene where an old jazz musician is asleep on the couch in Edie’s warehouse (inside his bass case) and nobody knows who he is. I wanted the energy of all the jazz I love on this playlist even though Edie is the kind of person to be a jerk about jazz. Sanders is one of our greatest living players. Get into it! The great John Hicks (RIP) on piano.

Pink Love Red Love
Linda Hagood

Edie tries to have hot reveries about her former lovers, but conjuring them proves incredibly difficult. She’d always had so much sex that it didn’t occur to her she was going to have to remember it for later. That’s the kind of funny/sad I enjoy. Linda Hagood was in a fantastic band called The Double U and still writes and performs solo. I have a few friends I suspect are not actually 100% earthlings and Linda is one of them.

American Music Club
I’ve Been a Mess

Everything relating to San Francisco should have an American Music Club or Mark Eitzel song in it.

The Fairest of The Seasons

Edie and her brother get into a Tesla and put on KFJC, the station from Foothill Junior College. The DJ is playing an all-clown set. They hear “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers, “Clown Time is Over” by Elvis Costello, “Fifty Fifty Clown” by Cocteau Twins, and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by The Velvet Underground and Nico (I’ll turn once more to Sunday’s clown). I’ve never actually heard a DJ do this, but I bet one has. I chose this song because “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is almost too on the nose. I love the lyric: I want to know do I stay or do I go/And maybe try another time/And do I really have a hand in my forgetting?

Chris Cohen
Optimist High

Chris used to play in Deerhoof (who are still blowing minds 25 years after they started). His solo stuff is so disarmingly brilliant. Melancholic, and yet… maybe things will be okay? I imagine this song playing as Edie walks on the hot San Jose streets during a drought looking at all the crunchy juniper bushes and dead lawns. This is a great “what’s next” song.

Beth Lisick is a writer and actor from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently living in Brooklyn. She is the author of five previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Everybody Into the Pool, and co-founder of the Porchlight Storytelling Series. Beth has also worked as a baker, a promotional banana mascot, a background extra for TV and film, and an aide to people with developmental disabilities and dementia. This is her first novel.

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