04 August 2009

Weekly Geeks: Music and Books

Weekly Geeks

This week we have a guest post by Ashley of Complete and Unabridged.

Music is a pretty amazing thing. It can take us back to the past, make us want to dance, put us in a romantic mood, or simply lift our spirits. But sometimes, music does something a little different for me: it reminds me of a book.

Yes, there is nothing more geeky than to be riding down the road listening to the radio and suddenly thinking "That song matches [book title] perfectly!". But that is exactly what happens to me sometimes. For example, whenever I hear Phil Collins' song 'Can't Stop Loving You,' I immediately think of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North and South. To me, it is exactly the kind of song that describes the two main characters' relationship.

So, my fellow Weekly Geeks, your challenge this week is to come up with at least one song-book match. It could remind you of a theme from the book, a specific part of the plot, or even one of the characters (a sort of theme song, if you will). Be sure to include samples of the lyrics and the reason why that song reminds you of that book. If you can provide a link to a recording of the song so that other geeks can hear it that would be great as well. (One good place to look for links is last.fm, there are others, too).

Rock n' Roll!!

I’ll admit that I have already been there, done that. (But only once. And only recently. So I’m just at the start of the slippery slope of that particular form of literary geekdom, aren’t I?) The book in question was The Night Watch, set in part during the Little Blitz in London. After combining reading Sarah Waters with listening to Eskimo Joe, I ended up with “London Bombs” stuck in my head whenever I opened the book. The song refers to a completely different set of explosives - the kind carried into subways in backpacks - but it still seemed appropriate.

However, Ashley asked us to devise a song-book pair, not tell everyone about a pre-existing one, so I went looking for more ... and that was where things went awry. I read the task last night, and my brain does it best creative thinking when a touch sleep-deprived. I guess as some of my thought processes start switching off the rest are left free to make spontaneous leaps. While trying to decide whether I should attempt to match a song to a book or vice versa, my memory conjured up The Girl Most Likely by Rebecca Sparrow (mentioned in this BTT post about the books most loathed). In short: chick-lit heroine once voted Most Likely to Succeed finds herself with a dead ordinary life nothing like anything she ever dreamed it would be, in which she gets railroaded into a beauty pageant by her mother. To make herself sound more impressive she lies and says she’s dating Bernard Fanning ... whose band Powderfinger just happen to have a song called “These Days” that fits Rachel’s situation pretty well:

This life well it’s slipping right through my hands These days turned out nothing like I had planned Control well it’s slipping right through my hands These days turned out nothing like I had planned

(Unfortunately embedding was disabled on YouTube’s clip of the gorgeous piano version, but you can watch it here.)

So now one of my all-time favourite songs is inextricably linked to one of my all-time least favourite books. That was so not the connection I wanted my brain to make! (On the bright side, it could be applied to a lot of characters; it shouldn’t take me long to think of a better association.)

After that little fiasco I had to come up with another pair ... preferably involving a book I like. At first all I got was Phil Collins stuck in my head (and later all I got was Phil Collins stuck in my head ... in fact I’ve still got Phil Collins stuck in my head!) In the end I went some way toward the other extreme, with a book I love and an artist of whom I’ve never been a fan. But it’s such a perfect match: in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair Becky Sharp is the ultimate schemer when it comes to her financial well-being; she wants the finer things in life, doesn’t much care what she has to do to get them, and makes no apologies for it. What other song to team her with than “Material Girl”?

'Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right, 'cause we are
Living in a material world
And I am a material girl

Now ... what do I have capable of driving out Phil?


Anonymous said...

This has been one of the most fun themes on Weekly Geeks in a while, I'm thinking.

As for getting Phil Collins out, have you tried Genesis? ;)

Amat Libris said...

Ha! No, but a ridiculously catchy tune by Belle and Sebastian did the trick ... perhaps a little too well!

Maree said...

Fun post! I get songs that I don't know well stuck in my head. For a few days now I've had the same line from the Muse song Starlight stuck in my head ...
anyway, happy Weekly Geeks! :)

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