Obviously, I enjoy music – and I’m not afraid to cross genre and style. I like old hymns, but I also enjoy rock. And when it came time to write Heart Soul & Rock ‘n’ Roll, I created a soundtrack to listen to while I wrote, which grew over time. I’m not going to reveal that list here, because I have a few gnarly songs on it. However, some of the material from my “soundtrack” made it into the manuscript.
So… to quote Dewey Finn in The School of Rock: “Let’s get rockin’!”
As I did with the hymns, click on the name of the song to hear it (provided I linked everything correctly). P.S. Sorry for the ads. Life in the 21st century. Nothing is free, right? Except, apparently, this blog!
Here’s to Us ("clean"version)
This is a total rock anthem about a love that has been tested by life. The first time I heard “Here’s to Us” on the radio, it stuck with me and, while I was working on Heart Soul & Rock ‘n’ Roll, it became the story’s theme song. It is, as the love of my life Dan says, a “really honest song.”
Let’s be honest, Lzzy Hale can and does use profanity and sings about sexual matters that almost embarrass me, but I don’t freak out over that when the music is good, the band is tight, and the singer is talented. And yet, I enjoy the non-explicit version of “Here’s to Us” more than the other. You don’t need all the cuss words, although they do give the piece a certain toughness.
Anyway, Halestorm is a fine band, and dang, I wish I could sing like Lzzy!
In Heart Soul, Patti drags Lins off to the Shore for a break. On their first night in Point Pleasant Beach, she cons Lins into singing at the Flying Fish Club’s Karaoke night. The song Patti chooses is “Here’s to Us.” I believe Patti chose the song to show off Lins’ voice and to help her have fun. As Patti tells Lins, they sing the song while in the car, why not do it on stage?
Here is the “clean version.”
Life Is a Highway
Covered by Rascal Flatts, written by Tom Cochrane
The song, written and originally recorded by Tom Cochrane, was a hit in the early 1990s. I remembered it while writing my novel and went looking for the song on ITunes. What I found was the version by Rascal Flatts and added it my little soundtrack. Recently, when I was searching out videos on YouTube, I finally found the video I remembered of the “guy with the hair over his eyes” (Cochrane). The original version is very close to Rascal Flatts’ cover. You will see Cochrane’s video up here.
In the scene at the Flying Fish Club’s Karaoke Night, Neil is so impressed with Lins’ voice that he nervously asks her to sing a karaoke song with him. But when they get up on stage and perform “Life Is a Highway,” chemistry breaks loose. It also gives the couple a chance to strut their stuff to each other and to the audience. Lins thinks Neil is trying to hit on her. Yeah, he is – but he’s also auditioning her for his band – and maybe his life.
If life is a highway, then it looks as if Lins and Neil are driving up the on-ramp together.
Twist and Shout - Top Notes
Twist and Shout - Isley Brothers
Twist and Shout - The Beatles (We see them playing and singing the song, but the original recorded version is dubbed in.)
Song written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (Bert Russell)
Originally recorded by the Top Notes in 1961. The producer for the record was a pre-Wall of Sound Phil Spector.
In 1962, the Isley Brothers covered the song, which made it into the Top 20. The Isley Brothers’ first hit was “Shout” (covered memorably by Otis Day and Knights in the movie Animal House).
The Beatles covered the song in 1963. It probably was part of their repertoire while playing clubs in Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany. The Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool was a seaport, which meant imports of records from the USA got there even before they reached London. From what I understand, the Beatles and other Liverpool bands were heavily influenced by U.S. music, particularly records from Detroit (Motown). “Twist and Shout” seems to have been one of the covers they performed live, and it was included on their first album, which was issued in the UK as “Please Please Me.” I’m sticking with the recording, rather than a live performance for a reason. John Lennon, who did the lead vocals, had a bad cold, the song came at the end of the session, and his voice is raw. All of which made for an amazing rock recording.
How does all this tie in with Heart Soul? Lins and Neil establish that they both think the Beatles are the best band ever. I think their creator – me –influenced that attitude! When Neil invites Lins up on stage at the Flying Fish Club to sing a number with the Grim Reapers, it is only natural that he would choose a song they both know and love.
I’m offering all three versions of the song, so you can see how it was performed by each group. You’ll notice how much the Beatles were influenced by the Isley Brothers’ version.
The next selection of songs comes near the end of the book, after a tragic death. The band decides to perform a memorial concert and begin choosing songs that the recently-departed enjoyed singing. It also shows that the Grim Reapers, like most bar bands, had a large cover repertoire. Well, they should, after decades of playing live!
Hmm… maybe that’s the way I’d like to go out: surrounded by my favorite music. I’m thinking how to make the jump between the Wesleyan hymn “And Can It Be” and Halestorm’s “Here’s to Us” (“clean” version, of course, as we’ll probably be in a church).
Come as You Are - Nirvana
The song illustrates the Grim Reapers’ grunge cred. The band is in their early 40s in 2014 (around the year I was writing the book) and would have been influenced by Nirvana in the 1990s.
Oh, come on, who doesn’t love this song? Heart slays it, and at the memorial service I imagine Lins does, too.
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Guns & Roses
I chose this because it says something about the way the band, especially Neil, feels about the dearly departed. There’s a touching tenderness to it.
Stairway to Heaven
Because who doesn’t love them some Zep? Enjoy them performing live.
Edge of a Revolution
I know this band is much-maligned, but I understand that the departed person in Heart Soul, being a rabble-rouser, loved the song. Plus, rock and politics have been friends for a long time. I like the song. It’s tough, grab you by the neck stuff.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door
During the memorial concert, the Grim Reapers’ bassist, Ben Roma, sings this song with Lins doing harmony. It is set in the early western US and constitutes the last words of a sheriff. A poignant piece. Classic Dylan. And it fits beautifully into the memorial service in my novel.
I enjoyed writing Heart Soul & Rock ‘n’ Roll and having a “soundtrack” helped me envision the characters and their environment. I hope you enjoyed hearing the music behind the book.
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder