I love to create playlists for my books, to evoke mood and set the tone while I write. I previously blogged about the playlist for Variant; this is the playlist for Feedback. (This isn’t the complete playlist, of course. But it’s some of the most relevant songs.
“Run”, by Gnarls Barkley
One of the influential songs for Variant was Gnarls Barkley’s “Going On”, a song about a desperate man making an impossible journey. On the album it’s followed by “Run”, which, while being peppier, is also considerably darker.
Yeah, I’m on the run. See where I’m coming from.
When you see me comin’, run
Before you see what I’m running from.
No time for question asking, time is passing by.
You can’t win, child; we’ve all tried, too.
You’ve been lied to. It’s already inside you.
Either you run right now or you’d best get ready to die.
While “Going On” (and Variant) were about a single person dedicated to escape, “Run” (and Feedback) are about very anxiously spreading the word and urging others to act.
“All Along the Watchtower”, by Bob Dylan
(The song’s by Bob Dylan, who is awesome, but the link below goes to the Jimi Hendrix performance, which I prefer.)
There are some lines in this song that are very on the nose: “There must be some kind of way out of here… too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.” And “No reason to get excited…there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.” But, while those lines are awesome, I was more influenced by the overall feel and message of the song.
It’s been said that “All Along the Watchtower” refers to the biblical passage in Isaiah: “Go set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” I think Benson and Becky both fulfill this role in Feedback. They’re not just individuals in a bad situation; they’re part of something bigger, and they’re trying to proclaim the truth that others can’t (or won’t) see.
“In the End” and “What I’ve Done”, by Linkin Park
I’m including two songs by Linkin Park, because I think they represent the personal growth of Benson. In “In the End”, the singer is hopeless and angry:
I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
This reflects Benson at the beginning of the book: he’s just had what was supposed to be a major victory–he escaped from the fences of the school–but he also led dozens of people to a vicious, bloody fight. Out of all his followers, only he and Becky escape, and she’s critically injured. He blames himself. He hates himself. The song “What I’ve Done” reflects his character change. He starts with more self-loathing:
There’s no alibi,
’cause I’ve drawn regret
from the truth
of a thousand lies.
But in this song he seeks both personal forgiveness and a broader redemption in which he rights his wrongs:
For what I’ve done
I start again
And whatever pain may come
Today this ends
I’m forgiving what I’ve done!
“Don’t Drink the Water”, by Dave Matthews Band
For lots of reasons that I won’t get into here (because they get too spoilery) I view this as a song being sung directly to Benson by the antagonist. I love it all, but especially this beginning:
Come out, come out
No use in hiding.
Come now, come now
Can you not see?
There’s no place here.
What were you expecting?
Not room for both,
Just room for me.
“Walking Far From Home”, by Iron and Wine
Upon first listening, this might seem like a weird choice because the song has a very upbeat–almost inspirational–tone to it. But I love this one for the images it evokes. The song, depending on how you interpret it, is either a story a specific journey, or a story of a person’s life; it’s a long list of things the storyteller has seen: some good, some bad, some bizarre. A few examples:
I saw sunlight in the water.
Saw a bird fall like a hammer from the sky.
An old woman on a speed train;
She was closing her eyes, closing her eyes.
I saw flowers on a hillside
And a millionaire pissing on the lawn.
Saw a prisoner take a pistol
And say “Join me in song, join me in song.”
None of the little vignettes are specifically related to Feedback, but I just love how they can convey so much emotion and imagery in so few words. I also love how it’s sometimes beautiful and sometimes uncomfortably jarring.
“Steady As She Goes”, by Dave Matthews Band
(Two DMB songs!? I know!)
This one is for Benson and Becky:
In the darkest times,
You shine on me.
You set me free.
And keep me steady as we go.