… and rock ‘n’ roll

This week we’ve mentioned the sex, and the alcohol. That leaves the rock ‘n’ roll. Wine, women and song. All bad stuff.

There’s so much music in novels these days. Perhaps there always was, and I’ve been deaf and blind. Adrian McKinty (yes, him again) puts lots of music in his books. Sergeant Duffy listens to a wide repertoire. He’s a bit of a show-off, that Duffy.

In Adrian’s YA novel The Lighthouse Keepers, which I’ve read but not yet reviewed, the young main character raves about music. Not so sure he’s not too precocious in his musical taste, but never mind.

Might be an Irish thing? When I first ran into John Connolly – outside the Ladies, before an event, and before he knew who I was – he pressed a CD into my hands. I gather he listens to a selection of music each time he writes a book, and those tracks end up belonging to that particular novel.

I added John’s favourites to my iTunes, and every time a track I can’t identify pops up on shuffle, I can be certain it’s one of his. I only added the CD because it contained a Lee Hazlewood track. I used to be a great fan.

A Jodi Picoult novel from a couple of years ago also included a CD. I passed the book and CD on to someone else, while making sure I put the tracks into iTunes first. I like them a lot.

It can be inspiring having an author’s choice of music for when you read. But what if you don’t like the music that helped them write? If every time the characters play their favourite tracks, you just can’t stand the music? Would you rather do without it?

Rather like when you find out which actor inspired someone’s character. If it’s the ‘wrong’ actor, you’ll have to quickly re-imagine them as someone you’d prefer. (Nobody tell me their heroine was inspired by that Keira woman! I’d have to burn your book.)

Music is an age thing, too. Adrian – again – is the wrong age for me. He doesn’t pick the music I listen to, nor the stuff forced on me – I mean, made available to me – by Offspring. I have a whole decade, that’s been almost completely blacked out. (When Son did a GCSE project on a decade in pop music, he was given the 1980s. Naturally. And we could offer no help.)

It’s not only the music behind a book, or the albums enjoyed by a fictional character. The whole book can be based on music. Obviously. Recently Son translated extracts from a couple of music based novels written by a Norwegian author. That was 20,000 words featuring an opera and all the backstage stuff. Luckily it was a made-up opera, so it ended up being less of a fact checking nightmare.

And we get YA books about pop groups, and wannabes. With the current talent programme epidemic on television we will probably end up with many more of them. It beats vampires, though.

Although having said that, I seem to recall that one of Anne Rooney’s vampires played in a band.

And Elvis lives.

8 responses to “… and rock ‘n’ roll

  1. Almost all musical references in books are lost on me, because even if I’ve heard the piece mentioned, I never remember them by title. I know or have heard of many writer who write to a playlist, but I can barely even clean to music, so that wouldn’t work for me at all.

  2. I can barely clean, music or no music. My mother recognised two or three songs I used to play in my teens. I used to think she was hopeless.

    Funnily enough, as I finished writing this blog post, my iTunes shuffle offered up Joan Baez singing Carrickfergus. Very Adrian McKinty. Geographically, if not musically.

  3. Is there anything more tahsome than other people foisting their musical tastes on you? It used to be the dreaded compilation tape, all of which invariably contained a series of nondescript songs all virtually indistinguishable.

    I speak as a former offender, having reached my mid-twenties before realising that not everyone needed converting to my love of certain bands, and that in fact this was the shortest route to friendship/relationship termination. Music is so wholly subjective, it is foolish to suppose that someone else will draw the same emotions from it as you do. Nick Hornby is always at his most boring when droning on about his favourite records.

  4. Adrian has posted a rendition of Carrickfergus or two in his time. Not by Joan Baez, maybe, but that would be totally appropriate for a Californian.

  5. Ooohh, could one get him to sing, perhaps?

  6. Other people’s renditions. Since he seems to be strongly of the opinion that men shouldn’t sing, it seems unlikely that he’ll make an exception.

  7. Men shouldn’t sing? Is he insane?
    The Dubliners?

  8. Maybe a bit insane on this subject. The post is here: http://adrianmckinty.blogspot.com/2011/08/unsuitable-job-for-man.html

    I remember it because I was completely unable to sway him. Not that I ever am.

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