Playlist for THE CAKE HOUSE

June 10th, 2015 § 0 comments

As I wrote THE CAKE HOUSE, I went through several playlists of songs and music. Some writers can’t write with music, but I always have. There are occasions when I need total silence, maybe during particularly tricky scenes, but for the most part, I love listening to music when I write.

]I went through phases of listening only to music with a female voice, but that lasted just a few months. Sometimes I listened to the same 10 songs over and over again. Sometimes it was my entire library of music. In recent years, I did away with playlists all together and primarily listened to music apps like Pandora and Spotify.

I remember a costume design teacher I had in college who instructed all of his students to listen to music while designing and drawing, but not just any music. He told a funny story of how, when he was in school, he had a class assignment to design an opera but he was short on time so he didn’t go out and get the music for it and, thinking it didn’t much matter, listened to a different opera all together while he sketched. The assigned opera was serious and dramatic, while the opera he listened to was broad and comedic. When it came time to show his designs in class, his teacher kept looking at his pieces, then at him, then at the pieces again, because the designs didn’t match the opera at all. Writing a novel isn’t the same as designing for an opera, but every book has it’s own soundtrack, even if the story has nothing to do with music at all.

For this playlist, I wanted to choose music that would have been available to the characters, which means basically nothing released after 1993. I also wanted to choose songs there were different than the ones mentioned in the book. These are songs the characters would have listened to, perhaps un-ironically, but they are also character descriptions. They are how I think of them.

Because links to YouTube are so transitory, I am not going to link to songs, but I encourage anyone interested or unfamiliar to search for them. As far as I know, they’re all searchable on the internet.

  • “Halah” by Mazzy Star –

Mazzy Star is the ultimate make out music. I think Alex introduced Rosie to Mazzy Star, and afterward, she listened to this song on repeat.

  • “Daughters of Kaos” by Luscious Jackson

Rosie discovered Luscious Jackson on her own, without Alex.

  • “Dance This Mess Around” by The B-52s –

I can see Rosie dancing to “Dance This Mess Around” in her bedroom, arms flailing, head banging.

  • “Quelqu’un m’a dit” by Carla Bruni (Rosie)

This song choice breaks my 1993 or earlier rule, but I wanted a French song that wasn’t the lullaby Rosie sings in the book.

  • “Walking the Cow” by fIREHOSE –

This song might be Alex’s anthem. It’s moody and strange and I can see him lying in his bead with his headphones on listening to this over and over again.

  • “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane’s Addiction –

This song reminds me of high school and home work and teen angst. Alex would probably turn his nose at Jane’s Addiction in public but secretly always listen to this song when it played on the radio.

  • “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers –

When I think of Los Angeles and Southern California, especially in the 90s, I think of RHCP. This song is for Alex, mostly, but it’s also for Rosie. RHCP was a constant presence. You could turn on KROQ and they’d be always on, this song in particular.

  • “Flower” by Liz Phair –

In THE CAKE HOUSE, it’s Rosie who listens to Liz Phair and identifies with Phair’s tough-girl lyrics, her in-your-face sexuality, but when I think of Tina, I think of this song. This is Tina’s song. She might never have listened to it, but it’s her song.

  • “Music and Politics” by Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy –

Claude would never listen to the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. He would be unfamiliar with hiphop in general, and would likely think it distasteful. But “Music and Politics” is a song about an asshole coming to terms with being an asshole. Something Claude is nowhere near admitting.

  • “Different Drum” by The Stone Poneys/Linda Ronstadt –

Dahlia doesn’t listen to music. She doesn’t give herself that luxury. But she isn’t a stranger to it. She hears it sometimes coming from Rosie’s room, or Alex’s room. Her mother listened to a lot of music. Her mother had music in the house all the time, and especially loved Linda Ronstadt.

  • “The Stranger” by Billy Joel –

Claude listens to “The Stranger” while driving alone in his car.

  • Ya Mama by Pharcyde – 

This is a song you listen to with your best friend, getting high in your car, giggling over ‘your mama’ jokes and trying to come up with funnier ones than are in the song, and failing. This is how I see Aaron and Tom on their better days.

Extras that didn’t make the cut:

“The New World” by X (Rosie)

“Kiss Off” by Violent Femmes (Alex)

“California Uber Alles” by the Dead Kennedys or the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy cover (Alex)

“You don’t Own Me” by Dusty Springfield (Dahlia)

“Mama Said Knock you Out” by LL Cool J (Tom and Aaron….)

“With or Without You” by U2 (Rosie)

“About a Girl” by Nirvana (Alex)

“Ophelia” by The Band

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Recent Audio Books:

The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica

The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus

Broken Harbor, by Tara French

What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman

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