March 17, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
MariNaomi's graphic memoir's title says it all: Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22. She recounts every romantic relationship of her first twenty-two years in this graphic novel, every crush, bad decision, and her skill is impressive as both illustrator and storyteller. is a compelling coming of age story.
Amy Bryant wrote of the book:
"Kiss & Tell gets love, sex, and everything in between exactly right. Reading MariNaomi’s graphic memoir is like reading my own childhood journal—if my journal were extremely funny and well drawn."
The Cure – "The Upstairs Room"
I became obsessed with music at the same time I became obsessed with Adam, and I'm certain that my crush on him had everything to do with the direction my musical tastes ultimately went. I heard he liked the Cure, so I bought the first cassette tape of theirs I came across, which was Japanese Whispers. The music on that album was so strange compared to the pop I was used to, but I was determined to love them, and love them I did. One of my favorite songs to this day is "The Upstairs Room," which is one of their more dream-like, ethereal pieces. The line "the upstairs room is cool and bright; we can go up there in summer and dance all night" evokes so much nostalgia for me, it can be overwhelming—it pulls me back into my prepubescent skin and I can practically feel the chill of my parents' old house and the green smells of the trees outside.
David Bowie – "Sound and Vision"
I loved David Bowie with all my heart, so I was impressed when my friend Anthony told me he'd met the musician. I first became intrigued by Bowie when my friend's older sister painted her room blue as a result of his song, "Sound and Vision" ("blue blue electric blue, that's the color of my home where I will live"). I figured any musician who could grab the attention of someone so interminably cool (her sister was the coolest!) must be worth investigating.
The Sisters of Mercy – "Some Kind of Stranger"
All us kids loved the Sisters of Mercy, and this song was a favorite, even though it wasn't a hit. It's no wonder that this was the song that my compulsive-liar boyfriend decided to claim rights to in an attempt to impress everybody. None of us were fooled, of course—we'd done the math and knew he would have been thirteen years old at the most when he'd penned the song, but when we'd confront him, he'd insist that it was true. I'm friends with him on Facebook, and I'm tempted to ask if he's still holding onto this lie. Of all his stories, this was the most outrageous.
1988 "The Blackout" Liam
Bob Marley – "Buffalo Soldier"
I like Bob Marley, although I was never an over-the-top fan. Still, it's impossible to forget being swept up in this song, high on LSD for the very first time. For a good several minutes, this song spoke to my soul in a unique, exhilarating way. Or perhaps it just spoke to my pleasure center.
1988 "The Blackout" Liam
Burning Sensations – "Pablo Picasso"
We were obsessed with the Repo Man soundtrack in high school. I can't count the number of hours we spent piled in Liam's car and listening to the cassette tape over and over, always singing along. Another favorite was Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized," which we would scream along to.
1988 Liam Part 2
The Cure – "Sinking"
This is such a melodramatic panel! But that's exactly what it was like, being infatuated with a guy who didn't love me back. And this song is so perfect for melodrama. What better song to pretend to commit suicide by?
Hot Butter – "Popcorn"
Larry was (and still is) a brilliant DJ. When he DJed at my favorite bar (yeah, I was only 15, what of it?), he'd throw on a cassette tape and just hit "record." I'd always bug him later for the names and bands associated with each song, which must have driven him nuts, but he still complied. I credit him with introducing me to so much great music from a wide range of genres, times and places, but Popcorn was my favorite—it's infectious and maddening and 100% fun. To this day we still talk about this song in its many variations. It is totally our song.
Violent Femmes – "Add It Up"
Yeah, this is a pretty bleak song, if you pay attention to the lyrics. But there's nothing more sensational than being in your first love's stinky old VW bus, joyously screaming along to the lyrics as you watch the sun rise, dancing in your seat so hard that the van starts a-rockin' and you're getting warm even though it is fucking cold out.
Jane's Addiction –" Jane Says"
When Jack sang me this song, I hadn't yet heard the Jane's Addiction version. In fact, it was a while before I heard the album. When I did, I was disappointed by the lack of intimacy (although I eventually loved Jane's Addiction, especially their album Ritual de lo Habitual), but how can a produced song compare to your boyfriend singing to you as you swoon at his feet? Jane's Addiction didn't stand a chance.
Led Zeppelin – "Stairway to Heaven"
It seemed like every boy in Marin knew how to play this song when I was a teenager. Yet it was such a great song, I never got tired of it. Led Zeppelin rocked like nobody has, before or since.
Robyn Hitchcock – "Cynthia Mask"
Okay, I don't think Parker was really singing "Cynthia Mask" at his show, but his music was influenced by Robyn Hitchcock, so that's how I remember it going. A note to musicians: there is nothing heart-meltier than writing a song about your lover and then singing it to them.
1994 Mindy & Click
Ministry – "So What?"
In the '90s, I made a weekly jaunt to the Cat Club in San Francisco. They had an industrial music night called "So What" where they'd play industrial, goth and wacky '80s music (think Adam and the Ants). They always played this song, and that's when the crowd would go wild. Everyone would pile onto the dance floor and sing their heads off and jump up and down. There was so much energy.
1994 Mindy & Click
Cocteau Twins – "Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires"
After my first foursome, coming off of X, the CD Heaven or Las Vegas played on repeat throughout the night, and this song was at the end of it. At the time I wasn't a CD convert, still clinging obstinately to LPs for home use and cassette tapes for cars (CDs were just so fragile!), but I was thankful at this moment for the CD's ability to repeat infinitely. I was still buzzing with chemically produced endorphins and my first taste of girl-lust, and completely wide-awake despite that everyone else seemed to be passed out and snoring. The entire night, I waited and waited for this song to play, deliciously savored it when it did, then waited and waited for the song to play again. I was the happiest I'd ever been.
1994 Isabella & Ivan
Consolidated – "Butyric Acid"
This is such a powerful song, and it felt so coincidental when it played at the club the first night I went out, post-abortion. Of course it was no coincidence—the song was an alt-rock hit and it played all the time, but still. When it came on I felt a surge of emotion swelling in me, super grateful for my abortion, and sad for all the women who aren't so lucky to have the same choice that I had. I was wearing these patent leather boots with intense stiletto heels, but still I danced my heart out, never stumbling once.
Excerpts appear with permission of the author and Harper Perennial.
MariNaomi and Kiss & Tell links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists