October 2, 2019
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Wayne Barton's Peach is an unforgettable rock and roll novel, both thought provoking and intense.
Michael A. Ferro wrote of the book:
"From the first pages of Peach, I was hooked. An immensely personal novel that thrums with the beat of an emotional rock ballad, Barton has captured that singular experience of love lost and woven it into a soul-wrenching story of growing older and truly understanding what we mean when we reflect on home. A spectacular debut from a unique writer who has a knack for absorbing his surroundings, in darkness and in light, whomever and wherever they may be."
I wrote Peach — the first book in a trilogy — because I felt it was a story I needed to get out of my system. There are some prominent themes like love, loss, relationships and transience, the human connection, and the kindness of strangers. There are also smaller thoughts and ideas and I am thankful that readers who have connected with the story have been able to do so in different ways.
I began working with the actor, Charles Baker (maybe best known as Skinny Pete in Breaking Bad and the movie, El Camino), in 2015 as a ghostwriter on Charles' forthcoming memoir. After completing the first draft of Peach in early 2016, we discussed the idea of recording a soundtrack to accompany the book. Music is a central theme in Peach and this seemed appropriate. Because Charles is a very talented musician, much more skilled than me, I asked him if he would collaborate and he agreed. I’m so thankful as I think Charles has given the project an extra dimension and made it more immersive, even if only for me, as the writer!
The Road: Charles Baker
Some time after Charlie and I started working together I remember him posting the video for the Springsteen song “The Wrestler.” I hadn’t seen that movie or heard that track for ages. Then Charlie shared some songs he had written and recorded in a band a few years back and that was one of the first seeds planted for asking him to possibly work on the soundtrack for Peach. That was some way off really, because at that point I hadn’t even started writing Peach. I had completed the first draft before I reached out to Charlie. Anyway, he said yes and we worked together on some tracks. We had a few songs together but really needed one or two more to complete it. The Road was the last of those, and it came to me in a really non-contrived way one morning. I wrote it in one sitting and it really was my version of “The Wrestler.” Charlie knocked it out of the park. As far as the meaning of the song goes, I think it was best for me that the story of Peach was completely finished before I wrote it. It’s really Hal’s song—his acceptance of his own fate in life.
Do You Realize?: Flaming Lips
Sometimes it’s great when songs are just direct and literal and they can still pack a punch. There is a version of this song that was recorded in Hollywood Forever cemetery which takes it to another level. I love this song so much.
I’m Not the One: Pete Yorn
I have resisted the desire to pack this list full of Pete’s songs but I had to include a couple. One which narrowly misses the cut is “The Chase” which was one working title for the book. Then I decided to call it Peach, and Pete released his record ArrangingTime in 2016 which had this track on. It features the passage “In this world are we just strangers/when we fail to make a connection” and I felt that was such a perfect summary of the theme of Peach that I asked Pete if I could use the lyrics as the introduction. He went one better and wrote them by hand for me!
End of Time: Charles Baker
Possibly my favorite, although that changes most weeks. Charlie’s moody performance really makes it stand out. This is about how compromising on what we really believe in can undermine the solidity of a relationship, and also the perception of personal disaster and how the thing that feels as if it hurts the most is actually the thing we need the most.
Crying Like a Church on Monday: New Radicals
"I was dancing with your shadow, slow down memories hall
I said wait have I been seduced and forgotten, you said baby haven't we all
Now I don't like crying because it only gets me wet
But I can't help failing to remember to forget you
And I know it's gonna be a long time”
Gregg Alexander was a big inspiration for the character of Freddie in that he loves the craft and art of songwriting but isn’t so enamored by the prospect of being in the limelight. This song is the last track on the New Radicals one and only album and is just so utterly perfect.
Runaway: Electric Youth
There is an amazing, soaring sense of adventure about this track that gives me all the feels as soon as it begins. “Maybe we can just run away for good, ‘cause we’re both misunderstood…” It literally describes Freddie’s adventure but in a way it describes the state of many of the characters in Peach.
Old Boy: Pete Yorn
“We are growing up together, we are growing old together.” This song is so perfect, it’s a pretty deep cut of Pete’s, a B-side from his Nightcrawler record.
This City is Bound to Do Us In: Break and Repair Method
The first version of Peach was a screenplay in which I always envisaged this song playing over a pivotal moment. That scene was eventually cut when I re-wrote Peach as a novel but my love for the song remains and there is a little of the message in the song in the story.
Falling Out of Love at This Volume: Bright Eyes
This song is from what feels like a collection of bedroom demos from Conor Oberst and has this scratchy lo-fi quality I can always imagine Freddie (the protagonist in Peach) making in the days when he was doing it just for fun. The lyrics of course are brilliant as always, “You wanna tell me anyone could be just like me” is something Freddie believes about himself.
In Transit: Albert Hammond, Jr.
“Free from it all
I'm not gonna change till I want to
And I'm free from the world
Where I've built too many roads”
This song has such a road trip vibe and maybe it’s a little clichéd in that respect but sometimes it just fits. Another song that has some great live versions you can find on YouTube.
Young: Charles Baker
I love this little track. When I wrote it, it was this dreamy, floaty track that starts on an A chord and went for about three minutes. There are four verses each with two lines. Charlie took it and transformed it into this regretful and wistful performance piece that reminds me of a carnival. One of the things he said he was going to do with the soundtrack was take the structure of songs I had written and really experiment. I loved that because that’s why I believed so much he was the right person for the job. This track is the perfect example.
Hurt: Johnny Cash
It may be an obvious way to go but I did envisage Hal Granger, the legendary crooner in Peach, to be this late-life bloomer in this fashion, if only he had the passion to do so. Freddie has this idea that they can do a lot of songs which pack emotional punches. It never quite comes to fruition, in Peach, at least. But as for the future . . .
Cool: Gwen Stefani
This is such a great "penultimate chapter" sort of song, in the context of Peach anyway. Freddie has a realization about the cycle of relationships. I love the end to this song and some of the lyrics. “We have changed but we’re still the same… I’ll be happy for you if you can be happy for me.” This idea of finality which doesn’t exactly seem to be the case... because we never know.
“How can I convince you it’s me I don’t like.” Well I won’t be the first to go on record about Jeff Tweedy and how he can just deliver something so perfect. This is a great summary of Freddie’s self-doubt and uncertainty and his relationship with the truth.
Wayne Barton and Peach links:
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
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weekly music release lists