Author Playlists

Drew Buxton’s playlist for his story collection “So Much Heart”

“The stories in my debut collection So Much Heart were written while highly caffeinated and with music blaring.”

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.

Drew Buxton’s collection So Much Heart is filled with stories brilliantly dark and absurd, yet relatable.

NYLON wrote of the book:

“Drew Buxton’s debut short story collection exposes the wiry underbelly of things: schemes, addiction, dead bodies, intrusive thoughts, masculinity, American mythology, with a beating heart interested most in affirming the strangeness of this life.”

In his own words, here is Drew Buxton’s Book Notes music playlist for his story collection So Much Heart:

I find it hard to write in silence. There’s something too lonely about being with just my thoughts. The stories in my debut collection So Much Heart were written while highly caffeinated and with music blaring. Some of the songs on this playlist motivated me while working on the book. Some are featured explicitly in the book, and others I just associate with a specific story or with writing in general for one reason or another

“Jockey Full of Bourbon” by Tom Waits

This song makes me feel like stealing. It puts me in just the right low-down mood to write about the type of petty schemes that fill my collection. Few songwriters can match the griminess of Tom Waits. He has a lot of great albums, but for me, Rain Dogs is his pinnacle.

“Plastic Jesus” by Paul Newman

I’ve listened to dozens of versions of “Plastic Jesus” and still my favorite is Paul Newman singing it through tears, sitting on his bunk strumming a banjo, in Cool Hand Luke. It’s right after Luke gets word that his mom died. A lot of the characters in So Much Heart have the spirit of Luke in them. The epigraph is a quote from the movie. They share his heart and his despair.

“Something on Your Mind” by Karen Dalton

It won’t surprise anyone who’s read “Lexapro” that I struggle with OCD. I discovered Karen Dalton during quarantine when my OCD got completely out of control. The traditional ERP therapy I was receiving through Zoom wasn’t helping, so I was driving two hours several times a week for an experimental treatment. On the long drives, I listened to a lot of Karen Dalton. This song in particular is so beautiful in its simple, tender compassion.

“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey

A story in my collection is named after this song. The couple in the story, Hannah and Lynn, are big fans of Mariah, and in the story, they get drunk and dance to the album Daydream. I was in third grade when it came out, and I can remember “One Sweet Day” specifically being played endlessly on the radio. This is roughly the setting of “Inside Recess,” the mid-’90s of yoyos, Pogs, and K’NEX.

“Tick of the Clock (Film Edit)” by The Chromatics

D.B. Cooper plays a pivotal role in the title story. I wonder, if there were portable music players in the ’70s, what he would have listened to on his headphones before he hijacked the plane. I think this would’ve got him ready.

“Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine

The story “Tilikum Gets Loose” is a story of rage and revenge. Tilikum will no longer perform tricks for our entertainment. His shrieks might as well be saying, “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!”

“Main Title” (Rudy Soundtrack) by  Jerry Goldsmith

When I’m feeling down or discouraged about writing, I’ll put on Rudy, the 1993 movie about a little guy who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. He sacrifices everything he has to make his dream come true. When I need a quick boost, I just listen to this track and remember to be more like Rudy!

“Nightcall” by Kavinsky

Summer nights in Texas are charged in a way that’s hard to describe. The heat relents slightly, and people venture out. This song feels like a summer night on the Texas coast, evoking restlessness and longing, matching the bizarre connection made by strangers in the story “Ride With Me.”

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Drew Buxton is a writer and social worker from Texas. His short story collection So Much Heart is available now from With an X Books. His work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Drift, Joyland, Electric Literature, Ninth Letter, and Vice among other publications. Find him at

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