April 12, 2017
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
David Joy's The Weight of This World is a dark and moving multi-generational novel.
The New York Times wrote of the book:
"Bleakly beautiful. . . [a] gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair."
I think one of the most insightful questions a writer can ask of their characters is what are they listening to? What's their favorite song? What do they sing in the shower when no one else is around? For whatever reason, that's always been something that just sort of came to me when I sat down to write a story. With my first novel, Where All Light Tends To Go, I could hear Townes Van Zandt's "Rex's Blues" the moment the first image arrived. With this latest novel, The Weight Of This World, it was an album, a record spinning in the background as the first scene unfolded. I could hear the Drive-By Truckers' The Dirty South deafening from the speakers. Even more than that, I knew the last cut on that record, "Goddamn Lonely Love," was the main character Aiden McCall's favorite song.
With these characters, I think Drive-By Truckers make for a fine, fine soundtrack. The Truckers capture what its like to be working-class poor in the South. They write songs about addiction and desperation and hopelessness and family and love and heartbreak and sadness. There are so many songs that encapsulate the lives of Thad Broom and Aiden McCall and to have the characters be aware of that, to have a music they identify with, is a powerful thing. Ultimately what I'm saying is go listen to the Truckers!
So here's a playlist for my latest novel, The Weight Of This World. I like to try to come up with a progression of songs that follow the narrative. These aren't necessarily songs I listened to while I was writing—some are, some aren't—but they're songs that capture the mood and emotional arc of the story. Also, I'm going to do it a little different this time around. Rather than explaining anything about the story, I'm going to pull lines that serve as their own sort of explanation. Hope you enjoy:
Ryan Bingham "For Anyone's Sake"
Memories of my loved ones and their turned out lives / have long faded away with my tears in the night. / There is nothing but the police, to haunt me 'round here. / I guess I'm still living if I still have fear. // Something will find a way somehow to break. / It will be my heart. It will be my face / But I won't recall my many mistakes / or hold onto nothing for anyone's sake.
Nick Drake "The Road"
You can say the sun is shining if you really want to
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
You can take the road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that'll see me through.
American Aquarium "Burn. Flicker. Die."
It's nights like these that the drugs don't work
It's getting in the way instead of picking me up
I wish my addictions didn't mean so much
But we all can't be born with that kind of luck.
Hayes Carll "Chances Are"
"Chances are I took the wrong turn
every time I had a turn to take.
And I guess I broke my own heart
every chance I had a heart to break.
And it seems I spent my whole life
wishing on the same unlucky star.
And as I watch you across the barroom, I wonder
what my chances are."
Drive-By Truckers "When The Pin Hits The Shell"
You can lie to your mama. You can lie to your race.
But you can't lie to nobody with that cold steel in your face.
And the same God that you're so afraid is gonna send you to hell
is the same one you're gonna answer to when the pin hits the shell.
Drive-By Truckers "Goddamn Lonely Love"
And I could find another dream,
one that keeps me warm and clean,
but I ain't dreaming anymore, I'm waking up.
So I'll take two of what you're having and I'll take everything you got
to kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love.
Blaze Foley "Cold, Cold World"
I've tried for a long time but I think I can't win.
I'd do it all better if I could do it again.
Wherever I'm going it's the same place I been.
Ain't it a cold, cold world.
Willy Tea Taylor "Marshall Law"
This may be my darkest day.
I may one day have another.
Don't you worry about your baby boy, mama.
I'll be walking with my brother.
We'll be walking over hills and through valleys.
We'll be sleeping with the stars.
We'll be fighting off the wicked and the what-not
with our hearts and our guitars.
And we're gonna shine, we're gonna shine, we're gonna shine.
John Moreland "You Don't Care For Me Enough To Cry"
I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at.
Maybe we should take it as a sign.
I'm strung out on leaving,
exalting all my demons,
and you don't care for me enough to cry.
Sons Of Bill "Fishing Song"
The faces, they all stretch on for miles.
Why am I still lonely, still so lonely.
David Joy and The Weight of This World links:
Huffington Post interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for The Weight of This World
Marietta Daily Journal interview with the author
Mystery Tribune interview with the author
Writer's Bone 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
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)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
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