In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Tatiana Ryckman's novella I Don't Think of You (Until I Do) is a lyrical and moving examination of love and despair.
T Kira Madden wrote of the book:
"An elegiac and dirty and horribly beautiful examination of love and the lack of it; Ryckman has written the anti-love story within all of us. A book so earnest and sharp in its examination of heartbreak, it will make you ache for all the people you haven’t even loved yet."
There are many songs referenced throughout the book, and while I was tempted to link each section to the songs mentioned there, I couldn’t in good conscience represent the entire first chapter with Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long”. So, instead, I stayed up late with a friend, irritating her downstairs neighbor late into the night, listening to everything that seemed potentially relevant from Nicki Minaj to The Violent Femmes. My secret inner goal, though, was to create a playlist that the book’s narrator might have sent to their beloved, the vague “you” to whom the book is addressed.
So, here’s a mixed tape, from “Me” to “You”.
0. The Breeders – Do You Love Me Now?
Section 0 ends, “I believed so much in our endings that they were perpetually beginning again.” And the lyric “You’ve loved me before. Do you love me now?” seems to echo that sentiment. “Do you wish you were here,” The Breeders sing, “Like I wish I was with you?” Could very well have been a note from the narrator to the beloved.
1. Robert Smith & Crystal Castles – Not In Love
“Did you have fantasies?” the narrator asks their beloved. “I did. I’d ask you to marry me and you’d say no and we’d never talk again and just feel a little unhappy for the rest of our lives but would never be able to know how that feeling differed from the alternatives.” A collaboration between Robert Smith and Crystal Castles is an objectively awesome thing, but turned up too loud on a long drive this song always feels like life-threatening desire. And when Robert Smith sings “Fascination ends,” the subtle reference to “Fascination Street” is just a little too much in the best heart-breaking kind of way. The song ends with Smith singing over and over, “We are not in love” and one needn’t ask who he’s trying so hard to convince.
2. Sonic Youth – Superstar
“We were in the same bed my mind had been caught in for months … your shirts were still hanging behind us and Sonic Youth CDs were still piled by our heads.” The narrator recalls. Most of my favorite Sonic Youth songs are cathartic precisely because they are aggressive and unromantic in a way that makes them ill-fitting for this book. But this droning, melancholic Carpenters cover seemed to perfectly express the continuous limp of the long-distance relationship the book is about. “Loneliness is such a sad affair,” they sing, “and I can hardly wait to be with you again. What can I do to make you come again. Come back to me again.”
3. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do with It?
“Turner asked what love had to do with it, and I remembered that there was nothing remarkable about heartbreak.”
4. Beck – Totally Confused
I believe that there is a place on every mix for Beck. And this section, which is riddled with bad communication and misunderstanding seems the perfect place for Beck’s professed confusion and bizarre lyrics, “I’m totally confused by you … ten foot man makin’ my lunch. You’ll never understand. I want you so much.” It’s not painful, just inexplicable. So much like love.
“It was like a code in a dream,” the narrator says, “that only the dreamer understands, and I was passing into wakefulness.”
5. The National – Pink Rabbits
The line from this song, “You didn’t see me, I was falling apart. I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park,” has always perfectly expressed depression for me. And the best way to describe section five is a “big bummer.” The narrator describes a day of suffering from the feeling of dying: “I was dying while making breakfast and that turned into dying while washing dishes which turned into dying in the shower and then dying in the bed again and then later, over a glass of juice.” This song feels like dying everywhere.
6. Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing
It’ll be a few chapters before the narrator could come to the conclusion that “it was really nothing, it was your life,” is a bit of sad sarcasm. But in this section, as the narrator dreams about other lovers and failed romances, the line, “I don’t dream about anyone except myself,” is a brief respite from obsessing about the beloved.
7. The Blow – True Affection
The Blow’s album Paper Television could itself be the perfect soundtrack to this book, but this song stands alone as the beginning and end of impossible love. “Just because it’s real,” Khaela Maricich sings, “don’t mean it’s going to work.” And the rather obvious line, “Your fluids couldn’t tolerate the force of my thirst,” is comically appropriate to the obsessed narrator. In section seven the narrator finds themself in a sort of romantic death-throw. They say, “It had not occurred to me that, all over the world, other people were doing this same terrible dance. I thought about the lost global productivity that would result from so much agony. About the gross domestic product and efficiency and waste motion. This was the way I learned not to think about you.”
The Blow sings, “I never felt so close, I never felt so all alone.”
8. Neva Dinova – Ahh
The lyric “I’ve been trying to capture the piece of art you’re after,” sums up so much of the book, but when Jake Bellows sings, “I love you, but it doesn’t matter,” I struggle to imagine anything more crushingly definitive.
9. Ssion – My Love Grows in the Dark
Because some fires just don’t go out.
10. Stevie Nicks – The Chain - Demo
Until they do.
Tatiana Ryckman and I Don't Think of You (Until I Do) 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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