I am very excited to have Chris Russell on my blog for YA/MG month and this is also part of the Songs About A Boy book which, is the last book in the Songs About A Girl trilogy and I'm so sad that it's over! Today I have the soundtrack about Songs About A Boy!
THE SOUNDTRACK TO SONGS ABOUT A BOY
Almost every author I know, from Sophia Bennett to Patrice Lawrence, considers music to be an integral part of their writing process - and as a musician myself, I’m no different.
Below are five songs which either feature in Songs About a Boy, or were playing on loop on my Spotify while I was writing it…
Wings by Birdy
If it was possible for a book to exist in song form, this is it. The emotion, the tone, the heart of Songs About a Boy - I listen to this track, and it’s as if I’m hearing those things immortalised in music. There’s the line about “taking pictures of the stage”, of course, but the references to aeroplanes and flying spoke to me too, what with the book being set mostly in America. I listen to verse two, and it’s like Charlie herself is singing it…
I'm in a foreign state
My thoughts, they slip away
My words are leaving me
They caught an aeroplane
Because I thought of you
Just from the thought of you
Welcome To New York by Taylor Swift
New York is one of the most exciting places in the world. I remember arriving there for the first time ever, on tour with my band in 2006, and feeling totally overwhelmed, but in the best possible way. Taylor really captures that feeling in this song, a track which I listened to over and over when working on Songs About a Boy - imagining Charlie arriving in Manhattan, staring out the taxi window at the food carts, the skyscrapers and the thousands of people rushing around…
She's Out Of My Life by Michael Jackson
I am a MEGA Michael Jackson fan. I doubt there will ever be a greater - or more deeply damaged - pop icon, and it was inevitable I was going to find some way to sneak him into the trilogy. I once saw an interview with Quincy Jones, who produced this track, and he talked about how incredible Michael’s vocal performance was, considering he was barely out of his teens at the time and had never actually experienced the romantic heartbreak described in the lyrics. (Man, don’t get me started on Michael Jackson trivia … I’ll bore you for days.) Anyhow, one of the characters in Songs About a Boy sings an intimate, acoustic version of this song, and it’s quite a pivotal scene … but I’m not going to tell you who it is. You’ll just have to read the book to find out. :)
Hurt by Johnny Cash
Is this the greatest cover of all time? Very possibly. The original, by Nine Inch Nails, is pretty raw, but Cash took the song to a whole new level, using it as a reflection on the strange sadness of looking back on your life as an old man. It’s devastating. In Songs About a Boy, Gabriel sings this track on an old, battered piano. Again, I’m not going to reveal when or where he does this (I drive a hard bargain on spoilers, don’t I?!), but something about the lyrics in the chorus - they just seemed to be telling his story.
What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
Dream A Little Dream Of Me by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
This song is just gorgeous, and it soundtracks one of my FAAAAAVOURITE scenes in the whole trilogy. (On an unrelated note, when she was little, one of my friends thought Ella Fitzgerald’s name was “The Elephant Is Gerald”. Cute.)
Click here to listen to the full Songs About a Girl playlist on Spotify
At the age of thirteen, Chris Russell formed pop/rock band The Lightyears with his best friends from school. Since then, The Lightyears have toured all over the world, performing everywhere from Wembley Stadium to Glastonbury, and trashing a grand total of zero hotel rooms. In 2013, after a three-month stint ghostwriting for a One Direction fan club, Chris developed an obsession with boy bands and came up with the idea for Songs About a Girl. He is currently busy writing the next book in the series, gigging with The Lightyears and fanboying in the general direction of Harry Styles.
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