As part of our music-themed month on the blog, we’ve been asking our authors to talk us through four songs that have in some way shaped their writing.
Claire Lowdon says, ‘I’m the world’s worst multi-tasker: I can barely stir a saucepan of baked beans and talk at the same time. So I never listen to music when I’m reading or writing. But there’s a lot of music in my novel, Left of the Bang, and these four tracks each mean something to one of the characters.’
Debussy, ‘Jeux de vagues’ (Decca)
‘Debussy’s La Mer is a wonderful, exuberant piece of musical picture-painting– but for failing concert pianist Tamsin Jarvis, this movement’s a difficult listen. She hasn’t spoken to her famous conductor father in years, and ‘Jeux de vagues’ reminds her of a happy childhood at odds with her adult conception of his character.
Queen, ‘We Are The Champions’ (EMI)
2nd Lieutenant Chris Kimura’s the kind of guy who likes to imagine that every song ever is applicable to his life in some way. ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is a particular favourite, a personal anthem – along with Chesney Hawkes’ ‘I Am The One And Only’ and Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. For Chris, singing along to the line ‘And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few’ is as cathartic as going to confession.
Rihanna, ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ (Def Jam)
Rihanna makes 12-year-old Sophie Witrand feel very nervous. It’s partly because she knows her old-fashioned, pop-hating parents would disapprove. But the main problem is that everyone else on the school bus knows all the words to every song on the album. She’s got the chorus of ‘Only Girl…’ down – ‘Want you to MAKE ME FEEL – like I’m the only girl in the world – like I’m the only one that you’ll ever luh-uv…’ But mostly she has to do an awkward sort of mime-singing where she moves her lips and hums at the same time – hoping that none of her classmates will notice.
Fats Waller, ‘You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew’ (Victor)
This one’s for Tamsin’s boyfriend, Callum Dempster, and for me, too. Like Callum, I love Fats Waller’s music: it’s deeply romantic and very witty. ‘You’re not the only oyster in the stew, Not the only tealeaf in the tea; However, I’m convinced, Completely, fully, firmly convinced, You’re the only one for me.’ Callum is convinced that Tamsin’s the only one for him; unfortunately, she’s not so sure. But the night that he tipsily sings her this song is one of their happiest moments in the book.’
Words by Claire Lowdon.
Left of the Bang is out now.
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