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January 22, 2016

Book Notes - Bud Smith "F 250"

F 250

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 Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Bud Smith's F 250 is a poetic and powerful novel of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

The Rumpus wrote of the book:

"The working-class romance in F-250 is hard to miss, with drug addiction, home eviction, and random violence the abyss the music is meant to hold off, at least for the length of a song."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.

In his own words, here is Bud Smith's Book Notes music playlist for his novel F 250:

F 250 is a book of music. It's a novel about a noise band in New Jersey called Ottermeat. The band lives in the dilapidated Lagoon House that’s about to be torn down. The stereo is always going. This is 2003, and the CD books are full of music with songs that skip like crazy. The guys in the house are all trying to get out to Los Angeles to somehow make it, get their band signed to a label. They're all in their early twenties and the world is wide open right where they are, but they feel stuck in slime. 

Lee Casey plays guitar and works as a stone mason out in the sun. Seth plays drums and sells records at a music store. Feral sells drugs, and random VHS tapes at the flea market. 

F 250 is also a love story, kicking off fully with the arrival of June Doom and K Neon who appear at the start of summer, almost like they are the ones bringing it.

The songs on this playlist are all picked because they remind me of certain characters, or places in the book. They’re not all anchored to the time period of the book, some of them just came out. Most of the songs are love songs in one way or another, the kind you sing along to all off-key when you’re drinking too much or just so lonely and no one’s around to notice.

1. Girlfriend — Ty Segall

Here's what it sounds like when you're about to do a backflip out of your own skin and figure your life out—right after this cigarette. Just got your tax return and no one the house is paying rent any more because rumor has it that it’s being bulldozed down soon. Order ten pizzas and pick up two kegs, let’s get some people here and destroy this place so we feel better about seeing it go.

2. Cool Purple Mist — John Vanderslice

Other carefree nights, drinking beer outside on some beach chairs Feral stole from the empty summer house down the road that won’t need them for a while. Memorial Day a ways off. But wearing a hooded sweatshirt in the chill of the evening. Little fire burning. 

*Got this song off Napster, the OG file sharing site back when the gates got kicked open and music was finally 'FREE'. Now I pay the $9 a month and stream music on Spotify. That's my version of being a dad, I guess. 

‘Late spring rain, cool purple mist
Strawberries, big as a baby's fist
Earth is soft and it yields to pressure
The moon is far too bright to measure’

3. When I Was Done Dying — Dan Deacon

This song sounds like a person kicking open a locked door trying to get out. Frantic and full of wild weird love. Maybe Dan Deacon ate a bunch of pills and pulled all his hair out, all bug eyed singing about mountains and deep sea diving and his consciousness. This song sounds like a heart doing a sprint inside the body, one side of the body to the other side of the body. Love this song so much, if I’m feeling down I put it on. Or if I’m on my way to the oil refinery where I work I put it on sometimes when it’s raining and cold out and right when I hear it click into gear like a machine firing up, I feel warm. A bubble around me all day repelling rain drops.

4. That’s All — Clare & The Reasons

Ever have a friend who relentlessly tries to push a band on you? Whenever Seth gets trashed, it’s his mission to convince Lee Casey that there is some redeeming qualities in the music of Genesis. Of course there is, thank you Peter Gabriel. Thank you Clare & The Reasons. When I was a kid, I liked that Genesis music video with the puppet of Ronald Reagan blowing up the world by accident. “Land of Confusion” … just a heads up, there are some death metal covers of that song. Take a look around. Like this one from the band In Flames.

So look at that, even death metal Phil Collins sucks, imagine that.

5. Motorhead With Me — Nobunny

Ottermeat plays most of their shows at a dive bar called Spider Bar. Nobunny could play at Spider Bar too. Loud, sloppy, obnoxious. The locals who are there for cheap bottled Budweiser would clear out with the first chords from the guitar. But the kids who come to Spider Bar to see the raw music, falling-apart-at the-seams music, they'd lick the sweat off the dirty floor after a band like this plays.

One night at the real Spider Bar in NJ, I got too high and smacked my head on the stage. Different band, but this song reminds me of that night.

6. Roadrunner — The Modern Lovers

Driving around town, seeing what’s going on, cheap—because there’s no money to burn. Going to the frozen boardwalk to roam around, see who you know walking the boards past midnight, bouncing from bar to bar. The ferris wheel isn’t lit up and the Jersey shore is empty of the vacationers yet. The Atlantic Ocean hissing against the beach, ice on the fringes of the tide. You just have to be careful driving home through town because this is the time of the year that the cops have no choice but to pull over the locals. There’s no one else here to fill quotas.

7. Jumpin' Jack Flash — Alex Chilton

A messy re-envisioning of a classic rock song. Alex Chilton of the band Big Star takes Jumpin' Jack Flash and pushes it through the stereo like it’s in a wheelbarrow full of glue. There’s something wrong with this re-envisioning of this song, but at the same time, there’s something more beautiful about how messed up it is this way.

8. A Flower in a Glove — Frog Eyes 

Another noise band that sounds like someone who Ottermeat could play a show with. Just the right amount of harmony and guttural screams. Triumphant and trashed.

9. Here Comes The Summer — Fiery Furnaces

Perfect weirdos. Acoustic guitar and disco beat. That synth that keeps growling and smiling up like a flower bursting out of the ground on the first hot night, finally here—all the snow banned from this side of the earth. Blink, it’s Memorial Day weekend. The houses around Lagoon House start to fill up with people from out of state. Time to party with some strangers from postcard places.

10. If I Needed You — Townes Van Zant

A love song hinging on the word "IF".

11. Tougher Than The Rest — Camera Obscura

A cover of a Bruce Springsteen song by Camera Obscura. Instead of beaten up and dusty, this version has some youthful float to it. I like to imagine it’s sung by June Doom at a karaoke bar on the Seaside Boardwalk.

12. Fui Hecho Para Amarte — Menudo

Here’s a cover of KISS’ I Was Made For Loving You by Menudo, George Michael’s Alma Matter, Menudo. KISS is another band that Seth is always trying to get Lee casey to listen to. This version of the song is something that K Neon would sing at karaoke if you got her drunk enough. She knows spanish, just so you know, because K Neon knows everything, she’s a legit genius.

13. Ballad of Jim Jones — Brian Jonestown Massacre

“I walked from New York and back from L. A.
I lived on a mountain and once by the bay
I bought an apartment and slept in the hay
But there's no place that's softer than (your arms)”

There's a documentary about Anton Newcombe and his band, Brian Jonestown Massacre. I keep remembering the house from that documentary, how in shambles it was, that house, that’s Lagoon House to me, for sure.

14. Always Wanting More — Jay Reatard

Jay Retard overdosed in his sleep one night. RIP, amigo.

15. Helicopter — M. Ward 

Shuffling snare drums and a lonely guy singing:

“Helicopter, helicopter
Let your long rope down
Let us sway into the sunset
I have done all I can do in this town”

That says it all.

16. Mirrors — Crocodiles

A menacing song that sounds like the room is so full of smoke the band could barely see what they were doing but kept playing anyway.

17. Elephants — War Paint

A lake house in the mountains. Go hide in this separate room and fight. Go off in that room over there and talk or do other stuff. Drive the truck though the winding roads, collecting rocks just sitting on the side of the road that you’ll use to build your friend a crypt.

I like all the effects that War Paint use here on the vocals and the guitars, it sounds like this band owns 2000 stomp boxes just like Lee Casey does. Probably some of the same ones.

18. Graveyard — Chad Van Gaalan 

“i laid you down
in a wooden box with lonesome thoughts
down in the graveyard

you came round
inside the pitch black of your coffin in the ground

you let your ghost
leak through the earth above your grave
and coast around…"

19. Malibu Love Nest — Luna 

Everyone in this book closes their eyes and dreams of palm trees in their front yards instead of pine trees. Everyone is trying to get to Malibu, California, and they're not even totally sure why. In the beginning of the book Aldo says, “They must not have read Grapes of Wrath, all of them going there to pick oranges out of the trees and finding out there’s not enough oranges for everybody.”

The guitar in this song tastes like citrus, just tilt back your head and squeeze the juice right in your tired out mouth.

20. Eruption (Gonna Get My Hair Did) — Tobacco

The side project of my favorite band, Black Moth Super Rainbow. This song sounds like it’s constantly taking its own pulse, and like the eternal 15 year old I am trying to stay, I find it comforting that every other word is ‘fuckin’.

21. You Go On Ahead — Sunset Rubdown

Here’s the saddest song on the whole list. A song you’d sing jumping up and down on a your chair at a funeral. A song for waving goodbye to some people in your life and saying hello to new ones.

“and if reflections on the water sometimes look like burning tears
we can watch them change in shape without pushing off the pier"

Bud Smith and F 250 links:

the author's website

Atticus Review review
Small Press Book Review review
Vol. 1 Brooklyn review interview with the author
Cease, Cows interview with the author
The Chapbook Interview interview with the author
Drunk Monkeys interview with the author
The Rumpus interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Online "Best of 2015" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)