Soundtrack Monday: You Belong to Me

Viral Agents

I graduated high school in the mid-90s, so of course I have strong feelings about Eddie Vedder. (See also: hackey sack, Dave Grohl, hairspray for bangs, flannel button-ups, vodka, Manic Panic, and Seattle as a whole.)

That being said, I bought Vedder’s album of ukulele songs because the Into the Wild soundtrack was actually really amazing, and his plonky rendition of You Belong to Me with Cat Power made Reese from Agent Zero sit up and take notice.

It was hard to find songs for Reese, because he doesn’t have the relationship with music I do–or indeed, most normal people do. Most music, in his opinion, is just noise used to cover a job. He’d be hard pressed to answer what kind of music do you like because he’d just shake his head and say whatever Holly does. In his mind, music’s a human thing, and he’s not sure if he qualifies. Which just about breaks my heart, sometimes.

Still, when Reese heard the ukulele and Cat Power’s deceptively simple backup he actually liked it. Well… liked it? Hell, I couldn’t get him to shut up afterward. Afterward, I could reliably pry his lips open with a good ukulele session.

I’m not sure Mr Vedder would approve, but he’s got at least one fan living in my head. I’ve even almost forgiven him for the mumbling delivery of Jeremy spoke in class todaaaaaaaaaay that filled every. single. radio. airwave. for about eight months in high school.

Almost forgiven. The album still gives me full-body shivers, and no ukulele will make that go away. It’s not Vedder’s fault that so much of my teen angst was set to it, though.

Anyway, enjoy!

Soundtrack Monday: Oo-de-Lally

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I’m finishing up the zero draft of HOOD‘s Season Two this week, so this Soundtrack Monday will reflect that. HOOD owes a great deal to many retellings but the sheer zany joy of Disney’s is what I return to when the others get too bleak, and I often find myself humming pieces while I write. Chiefly Oo-de-Lally, of course, Alan-a-Dale as a strutting, gittern-plucking rooster enchanted me as a child.

I can still hear Little John, each time I see a feathered cap or a longbow–Pretty hard to laugh, hangin’ there, Rob. Or Prince John, moaning Mama!; Sir Hiss the snake minister fills me with both hilarity and dark foreboding. Fortunes forecast, lucky charms!

I also sang Robin and Marian’s theme to the kids often as a lullaby, while rocking in an old squeaky chair I had also rocked my sisters in. (Love, it seems like only yesterday…) But today, it’s Oo-de-Lally all the way, especially since I have to figure out what Robb gets caught for to end Season Two.

If you’re curious, I have a whole playlist for the serial. It’ll change as we head into Season Three, of course–the whole game is getting more serious, and Marah’s faced with a jailbreak (Giz and Alladal may have to team up for that one) and having to rescue King Richard (who has hopefully learned a lesson or two about haring off when he’s needed at home, kthxbai) to boot.

All in all, Season Three will be a challenge of the sort I like best. But for today, it’s a musical interlude with a singing rooster, a pair of foxes, a wolf in a doublet, and anything else the stew inside my head bubbles over with.

Oo-de-lally indeed. Golly, what a day.

Soundtrack Monday: White Flag

Dante Valentine

Sure, everyone who reads Danny’s story has feelings about Japhrimel. I mean, the Devil’s assassin is kind of impossible to be neutral on, especially when you’re inside a certain Necromance’s head.

I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you.

But I really treasure the few letters I get about Jace Monroe. Mostly because, while Japhrimel coalesced out of several books and strange oddments, Jace is an amalgamation of two men I knew, both of whom were better to a half-crazed young me than she deserved.

Of course Danny expected mainthusz–that faithfulness–from Gabe Spocarelli, and was never disappointed. But from Jace, Danny never expected anything but pain no matter how good he was to her, and I think that’s truly where their relationship foundered.

It’s hard to hug someone who’s bracing for a punch all the time.

I’ll let it pass, and hold my tongue. And you will think that I’ve moved on.

Anyway, Jace’s arrival in Working for the Devil surprised me. When he showed up on the Nuevo Rio transport dock (“Spare a kiss for an old boyfriend?“) I wasn’t prepared for just who he reminded me of.

I didn’t really have a song for him, other than a certain malagueña during his and Danny’s sparring session in WFTD, until I was driving late one fall evening and Dido’s White Flag came over the speakers.

I will go down with this ship. I won’t put my hands up and surrender.

It could have been Danny herself singing, but it’s ever and always Jace’s song. It reminds me, very specifically, of those two separate men from my younger days, and in that moment I had the key to his character.

We all–Danny included–think Danny Valentine is the strong one, and yet… Sometimes a person simply decides, and that’s that.

Of course Dead Man Rising wrecked me–you know the scene I’m talking about. It had to be, it was ordained from the moment he saw her, and Jace’s loa warned him over and over again. (I have a short story written about one of those warnings that will never see light of day. It’s too sad, and entirely too private.)

Monroe’s answer was the same every time.

There will be no white flag above my door. I’m in love, and always will be.

No quarter asked, none given. If Dante had ever understood as much, things might have been different. But we’re blind to what we’re most akin to, ever and always.

Chango love you, girl, Jace would say, rubbing at his temple and cocking his head with that familiar grin. Never do anything the easy way.

Just like you, Monroe.

Just like you.

Soundtrack Monday: Measuring Cups

Strange Angels

I’m not a huge Andrew Bird fan. Some of his stuff is just confusing for the sake of confusion, and that irritates me.

And yet Measuring Cups came across my musical radar just at the right time while I was writing Dru dealing with the bullshit that is high school, especially for kids who have nonstandard problems. It’s what would be playing over a montage of Dru in the halls of a normal high school, dodging jocks and rolling her eyes at teachers.

The teacher Dru inadvertently almost hexes to death is a composite of three separate educational “professionals” I had the bad luck to encounter from middle to high school. Of course, I’m sure I was a treasure myself–too smart for my own good, highly verbal, with a hideous home life and a penchant for both mischief and coming to school hungover.

Anyway, sometimes a song comes along at exactly, but exactly the right moment. And this was one.

I am toying with the idea of a sequel series to Strange Angels, and am waiting to see if my agent wants sample chapters. It might be something I do as a serial if I can’t get a publisher to pony up, but that takes planning and my plate’s full today.

Still… it’s nice to dream. Just as long as you’re not dreaming of owls and winged snakes, I guess.

Soundtrack Monday: Fool For Love

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I know I missed last week’s Soundtrack Monday due to grief, but I’ve got a great one for you this time around, dear Readers.

Roadtrip Z started out with my writing partner making an offhand comment about competence in a zombie apocalypse. Both she and I consider competence to be one of the sexiest things in a person, and I started thinking about who would actually survive when the infrastructure went down. It often isn’t the people you think, and of course I had an idea for a semi-hero.

Unfortunately, he had other ideas.

It took me a long time to get into Lee Quartaine’s head. I knew what he did, certainly, but it took at least four drafts of the first half of Season One before I started finding out why. Then, my writing partner sent me a Youtube link to Lord Huron, and all of a sudden, Lee began talking.

Afterward, playing Fool for Love reliably got me into the Lee mood. (So did Wham!’s I’m Your Man, but that’s–say it with me–a different blog post.) It’s all there–the stiff upper lip, the driving rhythm, the quiet plucking of strings, and the snow. I ain’t afraid to die, just mad I left Big Jim alive, the singer croons, and that’s Lee all over. And, you ain’t gonna win a woman’s heart like that.

Fortunately, Ginny saw through Lee’s somewhat plain exterior. It was hard not to, and thank goodness both of them changed quite a bit over the course of the serial. Lee learned that he did have more to offer a city girl, and Ginny found out that the skills needed in civilization would keep while she quickly learned the ones needed in the breakdown. And both of them learned to rely on each other for certain things.

Sometimes, when you find the right music, it’s a key in the door. Other times it’s the mood that sets your prey to talking. And sometimes, the exact right collection of notes and lyrics comes along just when you need it, and gives you a whole world.

Soundtrack Monday: Sinister Kid

The Marked

I had the beginning of The Marked inside my head for a long time. One of the things keeping me from writing it was Preston Marlock; he is a cagey character, slippery and desperate.

I don’t deny I was often frustrated with him. I had Jude, I knew what made her and Aggie tick, and to a lesser degree the Skinner. But Preston? Oh, he didn’t like being pinned down. He didn’t like speaking at all.

So instead of talking, I began to play him music. He would come creeping out during the damndest songs, but it took a while to get the one that would reliably draw him from hiding.

What’s it like, I wondered, going through an unnaturally long, unnaturally violent life and never being able to touch another human being without killing them? Once I put the question that way, I realized the problem wasn’t that Press didn’t want things. He just buried the wanting, because he thought it wouldn’t do any good.

If there’s ever a character who exhibits the kind of despair the nuns of my youth called a sin, it’s Press. After a while, I’d hear the first bars of Sinister Kid and think about him, and he’d start talking.

I just had to slow down enough to listen.

Soundtrack Monday: Qadukka-i-Mayyas

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It’s Soundtrack Monday again!

I was tired of modernity when I wrote The Hedgewitch Queen. I wanted something else, and all of a sudden Vianne was in my head, telling me about a muddy skirt on the day her entire world was upended. My love of Dumas (père, naturally) spilled into the books, as well as my bone-deep admiration for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. I wanted feathered caps, high manners, royalty, intrigue, magic–so I made some, and poured it all into the story of a lady-in-waiting called upon to save her country with only her wits and her small, peculiar talents.

And, of course, there had to be music. I won’t share the piece that gave me Tristan d’Arcenne yet, but I can share this.

If you want to hear the R’mini dancing, all you need to do is listen to this particular Jesse Cook piece. You can hear the contest at the end of The Bandit King, where the dancers line up and the elder women judge the quality and passion of their performance. You can even hear the moment Tristan catches sight of Vianne again.

At least I can, and while I didn’t like him very much, I suppose by the end of the road he had grown a little. Just a very little.

Enjoy!