Author Playlists

Jeremy C. Shipp’s Playlist for Their Novel “The Merry Dredgers”

“In The Merry Dredgers, song and music courses through the narrative like arteries carrying nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.”

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, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Jeremy C. Shipp’s novel The Merry Dredgers is a surreal and absorbing work of literary horror.

In their own words, here is Jeremy C. Shipp’s Book Notes music playlist for their novel The Merry Dredgers:

In The Merry Dredgers, song and music courses through the narrative like arteries carrying nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. The main character Seraphina spends her workdays singing to children. The cultists in the amusement park strive for spiritual growth and inner joy, and music plays a vital part in that. They meditate to music. They celebrate to music. You couldn’t spend an hour in the park without encountering an impromptu dance party or a marionette musical or a sea shanty sing-along. Here are some songs and musical pieces that come to my mind when I think of my story and characters.

“Hey You” by Pink Floyd

I’ve picked this song in honor of my protagonist Seraphina. You’ll often find her driving around in a wheezing jalopy, listening to true crime podcasts or psychedelic rock bands like The Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd and La Femme. “Hey You” is a song saturated with grief and misery and a stinging desire to connect with others.

“Kite” by Kate Bush

This song makes me think of Seraphina’s sister Eff. Eff has spent many a witching hour wandering a forest under the light of the full moon, puffing a clove-flavored vape pen, blasting Kate Bush or Enya in her earbuds. Kate Bush sings, “Beelzebub is aching in my bell-o,” and Eff often feels this ache when she stays in one place for too long. Eff, like many of the more adventurous characters in my book, understands the urge to transmogrify into a kite and soar somewhere new.

“Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmate” traditional sea shanty written by Richard Creagh Saunders

The cultists in The Merry Dredgers sing sea shanties on a regular basis, and I’m sure “Don’t Forget Your Own Shipmate” is one of their favorites. This is a traditional sea shanty first sung by British Royal Navy sailors during the Napoleonic Era. It’s a song about weathering storms through the power of camaraderie and community. The shanty goes, “Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack. Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!” Many of the cultists connect with these lyrics.

Ambient rain sounds

During the covid era, I’ve experienced many maelstroms of grief and anxiety and fear. And I have to thank the sound of rain for calming me down enough to write from time to time. Often, I’ll sit on my couch with my laptop and put on my headphones and stuff my brains with ambient rain sounds. I don’t get to experience rain much in real life, since I live in a blazing corner of California where the summers reach 118 degrees. Maybe this is why I find the sounds of rain so calming. Who knows?

Moon Rocks” by Enrico Sangiuliano

There’s little my cultists love more than blasting EDM through enormous speakers and breaking out in impromptu dance parties. This track is a booming, brooding techno anthem with an ethereal quality. It would definitely be on the cultists’ playlist.

Winds of Conquest” by BrunuhVille

Wander around the amusement park in the book, and you’ll come across a number of psychedelic dark rides populated by animatronic goblins and human-faced octopuses and massive bioluminescent worms. As you ride these attractions, you’ll hear sweeping scores with a fantastical air, similar to “Winds of Conquest.”

“Tango” composed by Matti Bye

The Swedish composer Matti Bye wrote this piece to accompany the 1921 silent film The Phantom Carriage. This orchestral piece exemplifies the eerie atmosphere in the book. Also, I can imagine the cultists playing this piece during one of their many festivals and celebrations.

“The Laughing Gnome” by David Bowie

Bowie sings, “Here, where do you come from? Gnome-man’s land, hahihihi.” He sings, “Here, what’s that clicking noise? That’s Fred, he’s a metrognome, haha.” This is a silly, pun-tastic song, and many characters in my book feel strongly about the importance of laughter and honoring your inner child. I’m sure at least one of my characters has played this song on repeat for hours while contemplating the true meaning of merriment.

Sacred Sound Alchemy for DNA Repair and Healing, Pt. 11″ by Sacred Frequencies

At any moment during the day or night, you’ll find at least a few of my cultists meditating, listening to a musical piece like this one. Don’t ask me why, but cheesy, tinkling spa music is an essential part of spiritual development and inner energy work. The cheesier and tinklier the better.

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of The Atrocities, Bedfellow, and Cursed. Their shorter tales have appeared in over 60 publications, including Cemetery Dance, Dark Moon Digest, and Apex Magazine. Jeremy lives in Southern California in a moderately haunted Farmhouse. Their twitter handle is @JeremyCShipp.

If you appreciate the work that goes into Largehearted Boy, please consider supporting the site to keep it strong.