As soon as I started rifling through childhood memories to prepare writing Not From Around Here, I realized that those experiences were all tangled up in music. It was impossible to pull a memory out of the vault without pulling a song out with it.
There’s some research to suggest that the music we listen to in childhood alters our brain chemistry and therefore affects us in significant ways forever. I buy that. There are songs that transport me, like magic, to gurgling creeks and wood-paneled living rooms, and cinderblock-walled cafeterias. Songs that fill me still with longing and peace and adolescent insecurity.
A lot of those songs played through my mind on a loop during the writing process. Songs like Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence.”
Talk about the feelings of mychildhood—
Remember when the days were long
and rolled beneath the deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
with Mommy and Daddy standing by.
But happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales…
Sadly, these songs didn’t make it into the book. Quoting song lyrics is complicated and can run you afoul of copyright law pretty fast, so I didn’t. Instead I compiled a playlist of some of the music that was on my mind (and some other music that wasn’t).
A friend of mine has a “universal theory of track order that makes for a fulfilling album listen” (you know who you are). I don’t. But here’s a quick explanation for why these songs are here:
Some of the songs correspond to a theme in the book. “Nothing Better” is one of my favorite break up songs and also it strikes me as a way to think of America’s urban/rural divide. “Heart of the Matter,” at the end, hints at something like a solution to that divide.
Some of the songs capture the spirit of a moment or season in my life. “The Champion,” which features a synth drum to make Phil Collins green with envy, perfectly reflects the spiritual climate that produced the Hereafter House, in which I played…a special role.
Some songs shaped my view of places I’d never been—like “New York Minute” and “Lola.”
But mostly the songs just resonate with me and evoke feelings about a time or a place. It’s totally subjective. To understand why, you’ll have to read the book.
I hope you enjoy. But nothing would make me happier than if you put together your own list and shared it.