Author Playlists

Diane Williams’s Playlist for Her Story Collection “I Hear You’re Rich”


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.

Diane Williams is one of the most inventive and compelling short fiction writers. She proves this yet again with her new collection, I Hear You’re Rich.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

“Williams’s blend of precision and understatement make her insights on her characters’ fears and limitations cut deeply while leaving the stories open to interpretation. This will leave readers aching in all the best ways.”

In her own words, here is Diane Williams’s Book Notes music playlist for her story collection I Hear You’re Rich:

I Hear You’re Rich, my new book of stories, was composed during the Covid years, so we did not go to live concerts, which was a terrible deprivation.

But in the small hours, between 4 AM and 5 AM, I depended — and still do — on jazz radio, WBGO 88.3.  And when that music breaks for news, I hurry toward more jazz at WQXR 89.9 Columbia University Campus Radio while I cook oatmeal, brew coffee, and recover, more often than not, from a nightmare or from near nightmare. 

I can sometimes find gospel music, while I ride my stationary bicycle, if I am so, so fortunate — on an early morning worship show at WHCR 90.3, The Voice of Harlem.

I had to call for pen and paper to preserve a choir leader’s singing shouts: Lift your voice! No music, just the drums! Lord! I thought I heard your words, your words! Oh, how I wish I could get the choir to help me say Glory!

His prayer echoes — as if it is my own prayer for my work, my life.

“Fredella” — a story in my new book — was inspired by a very young tuba player I heard speak and play her instrument on WQXR 105.9, Interviews with Young Artists (Sunday mornings.).

She was confident the tuba would soon have its proper due, and she blamed its reputation on the music.  Her tuba! — her music — were like no other.

At the workday’s end, I permit myself to read a book, and then I often turn to Bruce Levingston’s Still Sound. I am especially revived by Augusta Gross’s “Venturing Forth Anew,” “Dance of the Spirits,” “Changes,” and “Reflections on Air,” alongside Satie, Chopin, and Franz Schubert.


Dreaming Awake: Phillips Glass, Bruce Levingston

Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould

French Duets, Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne

And in the car door’s pocket, then and now:

When the Gates Swing Open, Clara Ward

Eco de Sombras, Susana Baca

Divas of Mali

Claire de Lune, Kun Woo Paik (Poulenc, Debussy, Satie)

Pilgrim, Eric Clapton

John Cheever’s Audio Collection

also at Largehearted Boy:

Diane Williams’ playlist for her story collection Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine
Diane Williams’ playlist for her story collection Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty

Diane Williams is the founder and editor of the distinguished literary annual NOON, the archive of which, as well as Williams’ personal literary archive, was acquired in 2014 by the Lilly Library. She is the author of ten previous volumes of short fiction. She lives in New York City.

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