A little over a year ago, I shared a short version of the playlist I used while writing From the Desk of Buster Heywood, but none of the actual music. Now that the book's been released, I thought it would be fun to revisit that list and give some of the stories behind the songs: liner notes to the soundtrack, as it were. I've created a playlist on YouTube, so if you feel like coming along with me for a 22-song ride, check it out ...
1. "The Little Things" by Danny Elfman.
Oh, Buster, you've come so far. This video is made from clips of James Urbaniak's minor villain role in a show called "Kidnapped" ... which inspired our hero, truth be told. Buster was never as horrid as his assassin counterpart, but the clean-cut, skinny man in a suit with wide eyes and just a touch of badass was firmly embedded in my mind. Add in my favorite musician, and, well, you might as well call this Buster's theme for the second half of the book.
2. "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega.
Earworm it may be, but this is the scene I wrote Chapter One to. Buster has a fantastic habit of people-watching, and what better background music than a song about the very same?
3. "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon
I doubt I need to add much here, since this classic speaks for itself... and for Buster, too...
4. "The Arrivals Gate" by Ani DiFranco.
Another people-watching song! The frenetic, bubbly energy of this one made it a perfect fit for Buster's lunch date with his older sister Dee, and their reunion in Grand Central Station.
5. "Tidal Wave" by Owl City.
The moment I heard this song for the first time, I knew exactly where our hero would wind up by the end of the book. I wrote the entire last chapter with this one pretty much on loop.
6. "Everything is Alright" by Motion City Soundtrack.
If I had to choose a scene or two to pair this with, it would be Buster's walks with his friend Cam: it's upbeat, but the lyrics are the counterpoint to it all, and fit how much he's floundering to keep his head above water once everything starts going sour.
7. "The Loner" by Neil Young.
Easy stuff: this is the song playing in Chapter Three when Buster enters Charlie's Bar.
8. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.
... and this is the song playing in the Bar when he realizes what he's left behind at work ...
9. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Lorde.
... and this is what it morphs into as he has to go back and retrieve it. It was such a flawless and perfect choice for the little movie in my mind.
10. "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" by Porcupine Tree.
This was my background for writing Buster's ride back from New York in Chapter Eleven.
11. "Wrong" by Depeche Mode.
In a perfect world, this song would automatically start playing for every reader at the start of Chapter Fifteen. The scene spooled itself out in my head perfectly the moment a dear friend played it for me. "I thought of Buster," she said ... and the book is infinitely better for it.
12. "Exile Vilify" by The National.
I don't really have a specific spot in mind for this, but both the sound and the lyrics fit Buster so very well.
13. "Big Casino" by Jimmy Eat World.
This is Buster before the novel even begins, as he's moving to Connecticut: a song that helped me lay the groundwork for his personality and a little bit of his background.
14. "He Films The Clouds, Part 2" by Maybeshewill.
Another song with no specific spot in mind ... I think it might just belong in the last chapter along with Tidal Wave.
15. "Lost?" by Coldplay.
Another end-of-the-book song ... in fact, this was the one I considered my "end credits" of sorts before I heard Tidal Wave.
16. "Look Out Any Window" by Bruce Hornsby.
On his drive down the Post Road, I mention that Buster's singing along with the radio. This would be the song.
17. "Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin.
Chapter Fourteen: "He grabbed a pack of gum and a disposable lighter from the racks beside the counter, as a girl on the radio sang something about kids and a sweater."
18. "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy
I don't dare spoil the end of Chapter Fifteen, but a song with a hook from Tom's Diner was just the thing I needed.
19. "Team" by Lorde.
The official theme of the Runoff trio: Jeremiah, Loren, and Daniel. "No secrets."
20. "I Can't Read" by Tin Machine.
This is what's playing on the jukebox in the Runoff when the Spanner makes his entrance. Those of you who saw last week's Dream Cast post will "see what I did there", so to speak.
21. "Helena" by My Chemical Romance (Piano Cover)
This is where Q.S.'s first name came from. There is an awful lot more history between Buster, this song, and I, but that's our own little secret.
22. "Stop A Bullet" by Black Light Burns.
This one's got as much attached to it as the Helena cover, but I can say with certainty that this is the song I chose for Buster's poisonous relationship with Loren. I have a few other songs I'd put on to get inside Loren's head - "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac and "Cruelty" by Cruxshadows were particular standouts - but if I had to choose one to stand as Loren's #1 theme, this would be it.
I have always, always known who would play Buster Heywood if anyone ever decided he should grace a screen. I know that it is a reader's prerogative to picture the characters for themselves: one reader of a very early draft of In the Cards once told me my redheaded main character had black hair in her mind. Who was I to stop her from seeing him that way? However, author K.M. Weiland recently shared her own dream cast for her upcoming novel, "Storming" (you can see it here), and inspired me to share the cast of "From the Desk..." with you all.
Clearly, there are several more characters in From the Desk of Buster Heywood, and I'd love to share them all with you ... but that would make for a very lengthy blog post, indeed. If you're curious, I've created a Pinterest board for the book. Currently, it only has photos of the dream cast, but I have pictures I've taken for location reference, and other tidbits that I'll be adding to the board soon enough. You can check it out here ... and I hope to see you again next week!
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