Author Playlists

Claire Lordon’s playlist for her graphic novel “One in a Million”

“Music was so meaningful for me when I was sick with a brain tumor in high school.”

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.

Claire Lordon’s graphic memoir One in a Million is one of the year’s best comics, a poignant and heartfelt book.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

“Refreshingly pushing back against tropes that often appear in these types of stories, Claire is not required to be heroic in the face of her declining health or to find meaning in it; she expresses all the frustration of a typical high school student. . . . The visual format is the ideal medium for depicting her emotional state: Simple, expressive character designs and backgrounds in white and shades of purple help soften even intense situations. . . . Informative and full of relatable honesty.”

In her own words, here is Claire Lordon’s Book Notes music playlist for her graphic novel Down the Steep:

Music was so meaningful for me when I was sick with a brain tumor in high school. In my book One in a Million you can see teenage me listening to music quite a bit. It was fun listening to some of the songs again that I gravitated towards when I was seventeen. During this time, I mostly listened to Pop and Alternative with a mix of something else every once in a while. I was going through so much with my health issues and music was an escape. It also brought me joy and was a release to help me process what I was going through.

I can stay that I still really connect with these songs. They meant so much to me as a teen and because of that association they still mean so much to me now. When I listen to one of these songs I’m transported back in time, but it’s not sad. Music helped me feel my feelings in a good way.

I even have my old iPod from high school. At some point I updated it with more current songs. My childhood playlists lost to time. Without further ado, here are the songs I chose that my teenage self loved.

Umbrella – Rhianna

This is the only song I outright mention in my book. It was the number one song of the summer of 2007 and I listened to it more times than I can count. What stuck with me is that I interpreted it as friendships sticking together during hard times (rainy days). Some of the lyrics that really fit my situation are “Said I’ll always be your friend. Took an oath I’mma stick it out ‘til the end.” My friends meant more than anything to me and how they were basically letting me stay under their umbrella.

Breaking Free – High School Musical

This song isn’t mentioned but slightly hinted at in my book. In high school my best friends and I really enjoyed doing karaoke on my PlayStation 2 singing High School Musical songs. I know it was a bit corny for a seventeen-year-old singing along to a song probably meant for the tween audience. The song is all about possibilities and positivity which helped put my mind at ease. The High School Musical songs were so fun and with the harmonies made a great karaoke experience. Whenever I hear these songs I think of the karaoke sessions with my friends.

Electropop – Jupiter Rising

I have no idea how I found this song. It might have been because the single cover is a riff off an Andy Warhol print (my favorite artist at that time). This song is so happy and has such a great beat. It makes me want to dance every time I hear it. Most of my listening as a teen were happy songs like this. iTunes keeps track of how many times you listen to a song, but if you switch computers the count starts all over. I really wonder how many times I listed to this, because I know it’s a lot!

The Great Escape – Boys Like Girls

In high school I wanted nothing else but to run away from all my health issues and live a normal life. I also think the lyrics “We are finally free tonight” encompassed my dream – finally being free and healthy again. I also just love this whole album.

Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne

This song was my “hang in there” song. Things may be tough but it’s worth “keep holding on” because things will get better. At this time, I was going through so much that I didn’t think I’d make it to the other side of things. The song starts with “You’re not alone. Together we stand. I’ll be by your side you know I’ll take your hand.” These lyrics helped me feel less alone during a time I felt so isolated. Also, the lyrics “You’ll make it through” was almost a mantra for me.

Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

The anthems to end all anthems. I mean the whole first verse is all about dying, which again felt apropos because, one, I was a teen with depression, and two, I honestly thought I wasn’t going to live long. The song then switches to a punk, emo, alternative beat. Which then sings about remembering that person in the first verse. Can you tell that this was a dark for me? The lyrics toward the end of “I’m not a hero” spoke to me because when people are sick and are battling something people usually call them heroes. But I wasn’t a hero. I was just trying to get back to my normal life.

Start All Over – Hannah Montana

This song had a significance during my senior year of high school. In English class we needed to choose a song that spoke to us about moving on and graduating. I remember being so self-conscious about choosing a Hannah Montana song as a legal adult. The song was happy and really made sense to me because I honestly didn’t have much of a high school experience. I missed out on so much because I was sick. At this point I thought I was cured (spoiler alert, I wasn’t). I thought I could start all over in college and become a normal person who didn’t have to deal with health issues. Thankfully my English teacher knew my health issues and she gave me an A.

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Claire Lordon is an author, illustrator, and designer who creates children’s books, comics, murals, maps, and greeting cards. She is the author-illustrator of Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster, the Taking a Walk series, and other picture books. One in a Million is her first graphic novel. Claire Lordon lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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