Friday, April 20, 2012

Our Heroes in Music

When I started thinking about this theme week, one of the concepts that immediately jumped out at me was the idea of theme songs. After all, don't we all associate this with Rocky?

And how about Superman?

And you can NOT be a child of the 80s and not immediately recognize the heroes we connect with this one:

Even our favorite villains have music we recognize:

So, I thought it would be fun to talk to my fellow Craisies and put together a group soundtrack of music we thought should represent our favorite characters. The responses I got were so fun. Some titles were based on events from the books, like Bob Seager's "Old Time Rock 'n Roll." Some songs were reflections of a single character - "Witch Queen of New Orleans" -  while others represented relationships of the characters - "Now Comes the Night." The complete collection came to this:

"Run Through the Jungle" - Credence Clearwater Revival
"Witch Queen of New Orleans" - Redbone
"Steam Roller Blues" - Elvis Presley
"Love Interruption" - Jack White
"If You Want Blood" - AC/DC
"Me & My Arrow" - Harry Nilsson
"I Won't Back Down" - Tom Petty
"Bad Company" - Bad Company
"Feelin' Alright" - Joe Cocker
"Imagine" - John Lennon
"Desperado" - Eagles
"Local Hero" - Yellowjackets
"I'm No Angel" - Gregg Allman
"Body Bag" - Hit the Lights
"Make Me Smile" - Chicago
"Bad Moon Rising" - Credence Clearwater Revival
"Old Time Rock 'n Roll" - Bob Seger
"Now Comes the Night" - Rob Thomas
"A Little Less Conversation" - Elvis Presley
"Lean  on Me" - Al Green

I put together a playlist for you. Unfortunately not all the songs were available, but most of them were. 

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones
While this is from the fan's point of view, it also got me thinking about how authors view their own heroes. So I talked to some folks to see what theme songs they would choose for their characters. (Note: some of the links I've provided go to YouTube videos that have ads at the beginning.)

Daniel Palmer is a musician as well as the author of  DELIRIOUS and HELPLESS. He said Charlie, his protagonist from DELIRIOUS would best be represented by "White Rabbit" from Jefferson Airplane. And Tom, his suburban dad protagonist from HELPLESS would have "Blow Up the Outside World" from Soundgarden as his theme song.

Lou Berney weighed in for his former wheelman, Shake. "Be True" by Bruce Springstein best represents Shake.

Meg Gardiner analyzed her two main characters: Evan and Jo. I loved Meg's response to my question. She said, "your request got me to think about Evan and Jo, and the music they love, and how it affects them and reflects them." That is really fun.

For Evan, Meg said, "She tells people she's a 'Crazy' kind of gal, being a Patsy Cline fan. But that's not her theme song. She also loves the Dixie Chicks: 'Tonight the Heartache's on Me,' 'Cowboy Take Me Away,' 'Long Time Gone,' 'Ready to Run.' And she adores Mary Chapin Carpenter, especially 'Why Walk When You Can Fly' and -- her favorite, the song that has to express it all for her -- 'Jubilee.'"

And for Jo she says, "Jo loves world music (Angelique Kidjo, Cheb Mami) but what gets to her is California rock'n'roll like Los Lobos (Will The Wolf Survive?) But theme songs... there are really only two: Sarah McLachlan, 'Angel'. That song is just so achingly beautiful, about our broken humanity and compassion and comfort in the face of loss. But I think Jo would rather rock out in dark bluesy tones to Elvis Costello, 'Complicated Shadows'...Hey, she's a shrink! Plus it's part of the soundtrack to Jo's favorite TV show of all time, The Sopranos."

Julia Spencer-Fleming said her character's theme songs tend to change depending on her work in progress and what she's heard that resonates with her. At the time she responded, she said her Chief of Police, Russ Van Alstyne would have "I Won't Let Go" by Rascal Flatts and Reverent Clare Fergusson theme song would be "Never Say Never" by the Fray. Julia pointed out that these songs also reflect the characters' tastes in music as well.

Rebecca Cantrell's character Hannah Vogel is living in the midst of World War II and Rebecca says she's best represented by "Song of a German Mother" by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, sung by Lotte Lenya.

Reed Farrel Coleman believes "Solitary Man" is a good theme song for Moe Prager. Plus, he says, Neil Diamond is another Jew from Brooklyn!

Alafair Burke put a lot of thought into Ellie Hatcher's theme song. I know because I was with her the night she mulled over what song best represented her New York police detective. She came to the conclusion that "Seether" by Veruca Salt was Ellie's song. 

Brad Parks said he would sing Carter Ross' theme song for us. He hasn't done so yet, but we may have to hold him to that. In the mean time, he chose the Theme from the Greatest American Hero.

Chris Grabenstein's choices for Danny and Ceepak shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Fans of the series already know the duo are Springstein junkies. So Danny's theme is "The Promise Land" and John Ceepak's is "Land of Hope and Dreams." 

Duane Swierczynski just recently came across Charlie Hardie's theme song, "I Wanna Destroy You" by The Soft Boys.

Craig Johnson says the television folks have chosen "Closer" by Kings of Leon as the theme for the LONGMIRE. But left up to him, Craig would choose "Last of His Kind" by Susan Gibson for Walt. And Vic he says it has to be "Tremendous Brunettes" by Mike Doughty. And Henry Standing Bear, well his theme song is "Coyote Dance" by Robby Robertson.

Sean Chercover integrates a good deal of music into his novels and he says his Chicago PI, Ray Dudgeon, would best be served by "Stepping Razor" from Peter Tosh.

Hilary Davidson's world-traveling protagonist has a theme song that coordinates with her tastes in movies and clothing. Hilary says Lily's song would definitely be "Shake Down the Stars" sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Another theme song that shouldn't come as a surprise is Tom Schreck's choice of "Trouble" by...of course Elvis Presley. Can you believe I actually asked Tom, "that's by Elvis, right?" His response? "Of course it's Elvis!" How could I be so thick? But this one's for Duffy Dombrowski.

Brian Freeman says Jonathan Stride would have to go with "I'm Tryin'" by Trace Adkins.

Michael Wiley's PI, Joe Kozmarski, lays claim to "The Thrill is Gone" by Chet Baker. I like Joe's taste in music!

 Bryan Gruley says Gus Carpenter, his hockey-playing journalist, is best served by Bob Seger's "Heavy Music."

If you're Zoë Sharp, you don't pick a song, you have one written. How cool is this that she has a song written specifically for her new book? 

Many thanks to all the Craisies who participated in this adventure as well as all the authors who piped up with their characters' theme songs. This is quite a collection!

What do you think? Any choices surprise you? Anything you'd add to our Craisie Soundtrack? How about a protagonist you enjoy who isn't covered here. What would his/her theme song be?


Naomi Johnson April 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM  

Wow, I like our Craisie soundtrack! I may have to put that together for my iPod.

I also like Coleman's, Parks's, and Gruley's choices. But then, I admit to being 99.9% old school, musically speaking.

Lauren April 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM  

What a great post! So nice to see so many great contributions, this was a fun read, J!

Clare2e April 20, 2012 at 2:16 PM  

Cool post, and interesting to know what are the lead chracters' earwirms. Mine are never that cool!

nigel p bird April 21, 2012 at 6:58 AM  

This has to be a first.

'Trouble' by Elvis - worth writing characters for/to.

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