In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Jonathan Ashley's South of Cincinnati is a dark and gritty crime novel.
Several people, during the editing process of the second Catlett novel, remarked that I’d written a southern Greek tragedy masquerading as a dope book/crime novel. I couldn’t remove the smile from my face every time this was pointed out because, inherently, any plot involving heroin has to tent toward tragedy because, from personal experience, I promise that any knowledgeable story involving smack must include a heavy dose of devastation and sorrow. Then, perhaps, in the third act of the entire piece – this is the second of a trilogy – rebuilding may be possible. With the stage in mind, and dreams of my prose somehow, someday translating to screen, music played an integral part in the escalating chaos my precious broken antagonists and anti-heroes must face. For every important moment of the book, I had a song in mind and, in a perfect world, if the Coen Brothers or Vince Gilligan were to approach me, I’d maybe have a say in what they chose for the soundtrack.
Yeah. I’ll dictate a Hollywood soundtrack the same day love finally triumphs over money and the new season of “Twin Peaks” makes sense even to those currently unconfined to psych wards.
But, I can dream, can’t I?
The Volebeats -"Sky and the Ocean"
Prologue - En media res - we start toward the middle of the novel and the strange David Lynch-esque minor scales of this unappreciated garage band gem perfectly compliment the intrigue and profundity of perhaps my best twenty pages of writing.
Bobby “Blue” Bland – "Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City)"
Road trip from Appalachians - narrator returning home to answer for his crimes. Perfect song filled with guilt and remorse as he enters the big city.
Steve Harley – "Make Me Smile"
First meeting with crew after detectives have been dealt with, a bittersweet song that bespeaks the resentment and unaddressed issues between the characters:
Freakwater – "War Pigs"
Chicago shootout and build-up by a Chicago/Louisville based band:
Graham Parker – "Cheap Chipped Black Nails"
Jon's search for his godson throughout the bohemian, drug infused Highlands of Louisville. Anyone who has lived on the strip will understand this song choice, especially since our embittered narrator now feels alienated from all these ne'er do well, hypocritical cause promoters.:
Sean Garrison and the Five Finger Discount – "The Weak and the Strong"
Discovery of rival "unscrupulous" dealer and the crew's violent response. An eerie, evil song from another great Louisville songwriter:
Mickey Newbury - "Sunshine"
Lovebird road trip with Catherine and Jon. Also, since they sing a part of this song together... and since this amazing song has never been in a movie that I know of, I am compelled to include it here.
George Harrison – "Absolutely Sweet Marie"
Nashville shootout near the Parthenon. Great juxtaposition between the violence and the upbeat song (but one that has lyrics about criminality, love, friendship, and betrayal).... this will also be the song once the curtains drop and we are left with the ambiguous/ cliff hanger ending.
The Stooges – "Gimme Danger"
When crew meets at record store to decide response to attacks. Danger is coming. Hence the song. Plays until we discover Thomas' master plan for the corrupt DEA agent and his gang banging dope slingers:
Waylon Jennings – "Dreaming My Dreams with You"
Godfather-esque montage of killings. Perfect contrast - sad country waltz over violence. Plus, this is the true death of Jon Catlett's dreams. Song will be replayed once the real twist is revealed on Jon's farmland.
Jonathan Ashley and South of Cincinnati 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
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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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