What’s the Story, Morning Glory
Although I rarely listen to music while I write – too distracting – the inspiration for many of my stories arise from music. I’ll hear a song and it will lead me to a particular place. Listening to Miles Davis, for instance, brought me to the coffeehouse Zoe visits with Jerry. Music also helps me clarify themes. One night, on our way home from dinner, my husband, Dave, played the Bruce Springsteen album Greetings From Asbury Park. The song “Growin’ Up” struck a nerve and I insisted on listening to it over and over. In the song, I saw Leah, a good kid, just trying to grow up and make her way in the world.
When I wrote In Leah’s Wake, certain songs – like “Tupelo Honey,” “Showdown at Big Sky,” and “Face in the Crowd” – provided the emotional connection that helped me to define a moment. The novel opens with Zoe and Will listening “Tupelo Honey,” a sweet love song. “Showdown at Big Sky” foreshadows the showdown on the verge of taking place, and “Face in the Crowd” speaks to the profound loneliness Will feels as he waits up for Leah that night, imaging all the unthinkable horrors that might have befallen his daughter.
Because music came to play such a defining role in this book, I sometimes searched for music after writing a scene. The Liszt piano solo “Hungarian Rhapsodies” mirrors Zoe’s frenzied mind as she drives home from her motivational workshop, Leah asleep in the passenger seat, the day after Leah shows up drunk, at 3:00 a.m., after a wild party. “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” also serves as a metaphor for Zoe’s state of mind, although this scene, with Zoe driving home wondering what to expect, was written around the music.
I heard “Champagne Super Nova,” from the Oasis CD What’s the Story? Morning Glory, when I stepped out of the shower one morning. Our house was wired for sound and Dave was playing the new CD he’d just bought. As with “Growin’ Up,” I insisted that he replay the song, and then replay it again. The pivotal scene, where Justine asks Leah for a cigarette and Leah allows her little sister to smoke, blossomed as I listened to the music.
“Paranoid Android,” from Okay Computer by Radiohead, “I’m On Fire,” from the Bruce Springsteen album Born in the USA, “Stardog Champion,” from Stardog Champion by Mother Love Bone, “I Loves You Porgy” from Porgy and Bess, recorded by Keith Jarrett, on The Melody At Night With You, and “Misguided Angel,” from The Trinity Session by the Cowboy Junkies - all set the emotional stage for scenes I was about to write. Without music, In Leah’s Wake would be a very different – dare I say less compelling? - book. Or it would have been less compelling for me, the writer, anyway.
For those of you who, like me, find inspiration in music, here’s the soundtrack. Enjoy!
Soundtrack from In Leah’s Wake
“Growin’ Up,” Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, Bruce Springsteen, Sony Records, 1972
“Tupelo Honey,” Tupelo Honey, Van Morrison, Polydor/Pgd, 1971
“Showdown At Big Sky,” Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson, Universal Int’l, 1987
“A Face In The Crowd,” Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty , MCA, 1989
“John Barleycorn,” John Barleycorn Must Die, Traffic, Island Records, 1970
“Not A Pretty Girl,” Not a Pretty Girl, Ani DiFranco, Righteous Babe, 1995
Hungarian Rhapsodies, Franz Liszt, Leslie Howard solo piano, Hyperion, 1999
“Testify,” The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage Against The Machine, Sony Records, 1999
“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” Evita (Music From The Motion Picture), Madonna, Warner Bros./WEA, 1996
“The Ride of the Valkyries,” Wagner Without Words, Conducted by George Szell, Performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, Sony Records, 1991
“Chase The Blues Away,” Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology, Tim Buckley, Elektra/ WEZ, 1966
“Champagne Supernova,” (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis, Sony, 1995
“The Candy Shop,” The Massacre, Fifty Cent, Aftermath, 2005
“Vital Transformation,” Inner Mounting Flame, The Mahavishnu Orchestra Jazz, Sony 1971
“Strawberry Fields Forever,” Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles, Capitol Records, 1967
“Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5,” Mozart: The Five Violin Concertos by Itzhak Perlman violin, Weiner Philharmoniker and James Levine, Deutsche Grammophon, 1995
“Surrey With The Fringe on Top,” Steamin, Mile Davis, Prestige, 1956
“Come As You Are,” Nevermind, Nirvana, Geffen Records, 1991
“Paranoid Android,” Okay Computer, Radiohead, Capitol Records, 1997
“I’m On Fire,” Born in The USA, Bruce Springsteen, Sony, 1984
“Stardog Champion,” Stardog Champion, Mother Love Bone, Mercury/Universal, 1992
“I Loves You, Porgy,” The Melody At Night With You, Keith Jarrett, EMC Records, 1900
“Hasta Siempre, Witchi-Tai-To, Jan Garbarek and Bobo Stenson Quartet, EMC, 1973 Records
“As The Years Go Passing By,” Born Under a Bad Sign, Albert King, Stax, 1967
“Misguided Angel,” The Trinity Session, Cowboy Junkies, RCA Records, 1988.
“Davidian,” Burn My Eyes, Machine Head, Roadrunner Records, 1994
“Here I Am, Lord,” Wonder, Love, and Praise, Daniel Schutte, New Dawn Music, 1981.
Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the novel In Leah’s Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novel.
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