I’m thrilled today to be hosting the very lovely Keris Stainton, author of YA titles Della Says: OMG! and the recently released Jessie Hearts NYC. She’s popping up on various blogs at the moment talking about Jessie and she’s here today to talk about the music that helped to inspire the book and share the playlist. Over to Keris.
Obviously when I set a book in New York I knew I’d need a playlist to go with it – some of my favourite songs are New York songs. A friend had recommended Alicia Keys’ version of Empire State of Mind (Part II) to me and I absolutely loved it. When I was writing Jessie Hearts NYC, putting that song on was always the first thing I did and it would immediately get me in the writing mood. Once I’d heard it – and Paloma Faith’s New York – I was good to go. (I’ve just put them on to see if it still works and it really does.)
Next was Jason Mraz’s If It Kills Me, which is the song that inspired the character of Finn:
Hello, tell me you know
Yeah, you figured me out
Something gave it away
It would be such a beautiful moment
To see the look on your face
To know that I know that you know now
And baby that’s a case of my wishful thinking
You know nothing
Well you and I
Why, we go carrying on for hours on end
We get along much better
Than you and your boyfriend
I LOVED the idea of a boy in love with his best friend’s girlfriend and secretly thinking he’d be better for her than his friend would. And hoping that she’d guess, but also being terrified that she would because what would that mean for his friendship? Finn came to me pretty much fully-formed (hailing a taxi, holding a bunch of flowers) just from listening to this song. I love Jason Mraz.
Now don’t judge me, but there are two Barry Manilow songs on there: New York City Rhythm and Give My Regards to Broadway. (I would also have liked to have another of his songs, Brooklyn Blues, on there, but I figured two was plenty. Brooklyn Blues has my favourite line from a New York song: “You know the river looks a hundred miles wide when all your dreams are on the other side.”) New York City Rhythm is a New York mood song, but Give My Regards to Broadway is just fabulous for singing at the top of your voice. If I was disheartened with writing, I’d put it on and just bellow the “Sing me a tune by Bernstein, Gershwin, Lerner, Loewe or Lane, with words that rhyme by Rogers, Hart or Hammerstein…” which of course also fits in with Jessie’s mum having a play on Broadway.
I absolutely love New York Minute by Don Henley so that had to be on there. Plus it reminds me of The West Wing – there’s an episode called Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail, which is a line from this song – and I found a reminder of the brilliance of my all-time favourite TV show inspiring.
While I was writing Jessie, I asked on Twitter for some more New York song suggestions and the rest came from there. (Mainly from @annemariet123 and @wurdsmyth I think, so thank you to them!). New York State of Mind by Billy Joel is a classic, but I didn’t know New York, New York by Ryan Adams at all. Native New Yorker by Odyssey doesn’t really fit with the book at all, but it makes me happy so I left it on there.
I wasn’t familiar with New York City by They Might Be Giants and as soon as I heard it I knew it was PERFECT for the book:
We kissed on the subway in the middle of the night
I held your hand, you held mine, it was the best night of my life
‘Cause everyone’s your friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you’re young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there’s just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me
Says it all really. 🙂
What a lovely lot of New York music! I’ve been listening to the playlist since Keris sent it to me and it has certainly left me wanting to visit the city again.
Make sure you come back tomorrow for my review of Jessie Hearts NYC