June 10, 2009
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
I am a great champion of interesting children's books, from picture books for young readers to young adult titles. Daniel Waters' Generation Dead is a refreshing approach to YA fiction with its humor, its social satire, and, of course, its zombies.
The New York Times wrote of the book:
"Witty and well written, “Generation Dead” is a classic desegregation story that also skewers adult attempts to make teenagers play nice. An unctuous father-daughter research team enlists a handful of students at Oakvale High for its work-study program on the differently biotic, but the most effective adult in the book is the coach who wants to arrange a hit on a zombie who’s tried out for football (“case of beer to whoever puts him out”). Motivational speakers, politically correct speech and encounter groups come in for special ridicule."
Generation Dead is about American teens who return from the dead, but these zombies aren't after your brains or your tender gut meat, tasty though those treats may be. They just want to fit in and go back to school. Because let's face it: if you were a teen and returned from the dead, what's the first thing that would be on your mind once you returned? That's right. Going back to school.
Although I'm really quite liberal in my music tastes, I listened mainly to metal, hard punk and horrorpunk writing Generation Dead, as evidenced by some of the bands I name-dropped in the book. Some of the band names I made up, or thought I did, anyway. Within a month of the book's release I was contacted through my blog by a guy who was the singer/guitarist for a band with the same name as one of my fictional bands. He was kind enough to send me a CD, and his band played exactly the sort of music that Phoebe and her friends would listen to.
I'm planning on making up a few dozen more band names for the next book because I really, really like it when people send me free CDs.
"Crushing Belial" Shadow's Fall
"Spirit in Black" Slayer
"Deadly Sinners" 3 Inches of Blood
I always write with music playing, probably because random quiet sounds are far more distracting to me than predictable loud sounds. You better not be eating chips in the next room when I'm trying to write, because writing is challenging enough without all that crunch crunch crunching.
I have a playlist of eight hundred and eighty eight songs that I play on random when writing, and when I was writing GD I always started with one of these three songs. I kicked coffee around the time I started the book (I've since had a relapse) and found that any one of these gave me the proper adrenal rush to get going.
The week I finished the novel the randomizer played all three songs in order, and later that day I found a buffalo nickel in an old sock. Weird.
"Dust to Dust"—The Misfits
Really, I just picked one. Just about any Misfits song would do.
"Killer Creature Double Feature"—Nim Vind
I love songs that can portray two conflicting emotions at once. This one portends the end of the world, but is sung with such a gleeful—almost eager—delivery against a doo-wopy chorus and driving beat that it make me think the End Times might actually turn out to be pretty fun. I'd love to hear this one through a drive-in speaker, preferably as the moon begins plummeting towards our planet.
"'Til the End"—Mr. Monster
This song out-alienates my hero Morrissey with the line: "Not even Hell would let me in, and God told me to go away". This is a sentiment shared by a few of the zombie teens in GD who didn't see smiling relatives, puppies or a pure white light when they croaked.
I'd don't know if I'm supposed to choke up when I listen to horrorpunk, but I do, every time I hear this song.
"Frozen Ghost"—The Rosedales
I love the Rosedales. They've got such a unique sound, and they are one of the few horrorpunk bands that manage to write rocking songs that are both spooky and poignant, whereas a great deal of the bands working in the genre are third rate ‘fits knockoffs who mainly write songs about mummies ripping your face off (note: I happen to enjoy third rate ‘fits knockoffs, especially if they are singing about face-ripping mummies). This song is perhaps their most haunting, off their fantastic Raise Your Spirits album.
"Pretty in a Casket"—Blitzkid
This song makes me think of Karen from the book and hence I like it an awful lot.
"Black Valentine"—The Bronx Casket Company
I think I dropped like three secret references to Myke Hideous in the book. Myke is a multi-talented guy and I've enjoyed his various projects, musical and otherwise. He sounded great on the BCC discs, and on this song in particular. I came to think of this one as Tommy's theme song.
Michale Graves and Dr. Chud from the American Psycho/Famous Monsters era Misfits wrote and recorded songs for an album called Web of Dharma, one of my top five albums out of my collection on four thousand. Rumor has it that they are in a rights dispute over the songs and the album is currently unavailable, which makes Danny sad. "Casket" might be my favorite, but the entire album was in heavy rotation while I wrote GD.
"Yami-no Mokou-no Subete-wo"—Balzac
Balzac are kind of like the Japanese version of the Graves era Misfits, except they can apparently get onstage together without wanting to kill each other afterwards. The lyrics sites all tell me the line from the chorus "Soko-de miteita yami-no mukou-no subete-wo" is translated as "There I saw beyond the darkness", so let me apologize right now if the actual translation is actually a blasphemous curse aimed directly at the readers of this blog. I just like the song!
This song features some incredible drumming. Balzac's drummer is named Takayuki. The Japanese American zombie in Generation Dead is also named Takayuki. What an amazing coincidence!
"I Walked With A Zombie"—Wednesday 13
I'm a huge fan of Wednesday 13, in all of his incarnations. The Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13, The Murderdolls, Bourbon Crow. This is my favorite zombie song ever with the word "zombie" in the title, and coincidentally the only Wednesday 13 related song whose lyrics I could quote freely from in a family website. This is a family website, isn't it?
"See My Way"—The Dickies
Love the Dickies. This song is the best of a bunch that served as a sort of antidote to most of the songs on my playlist, which admittedly were really, really dark for the most part. Dark as Generation Dead is, I wanted there to be hope and humor as well, and there's a certain sentiment expressed in "See My Way" that helped inspire some of those moments in the book.
"Eaters of the Dead"—Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space
I used to have a job where I traveled a lot, and during my down time I'd get some writing done in the hotel room. After a good writing session I'd leave my room kicking my heels and singing a jaunty tune like this one, which has an infectious chorus guaranteed to chase yer blues away. "We are the eat-ahs of the dea-hea-ea-hea-ea-ead!" Just don't do what I did, which was zone out and sing it in a crowded Memphis elevator filled with women who are in town for the National Baptist Convention. They have really big hats.
"Electricity" and "The Living Dead"—The London Suede
When the imaginary people that frequently show up in my house ask me to classify Generation Dead as a novel, I usually tell them it is a love story. These were two of my favorite love songs during the writing of the book, and they come at their subject from opposite ends of the lovey spectrum. "Electricity" is the bombastic, all conquering love song that you play before, during, and after a hot date; "The Living Dead" is what you play when the relationship has run its course and you never want to be in love again.
Despite its title, "The Living Dead", unlike most of the others songs on my list, is not about walking corpse-type living dead but about a couple whose relationship has been destroyed by addiction. I think it is also one of the most achingly beautiful songs I've ever heard. But by all means pretend he's singing about zombies if that's what you like.
Daniel Waters and Generation Dead links:
And Another Book Read review
The Bizarre Library review
Blogging for a Good Book review
Book Muncher review
The Bookbag review
Bookshelves of Doom review
The Calgary Herald review
The Compulsive Reader review
Curled Up with a Good Kid's Book review
Dark Scribe review
Front Street Reviews review
Karin's Book Nook review
Necromancy Never Pays review
New York Times review
Royal Reads review
The Story Siren review
Teen Book Review review
Teen Trove review
Tempting Persephone review
Wondrous Reads review
YA New York review
YA or STFU review
Yapping About YA review
also at Largehearted Boy: