Pleasant Notes

So Others May Live

Novel by Lee Hutch

Dear Readers,

My apologies for the slight delay in my usual posting schedule. This is my busy time of the semester as it winds down and we get ready for final exams. Then I get a couple of months off! I’m writing this from my office on campus that looks out over a parking lot and the train tracks. I get excited when a train comes by, since very few students stop in to see me. But I digress. For today’s post, I thought I would give you the play list that I listened to while writing So Others May Live.

I know that some writers need silence to work, but I need music. As I do not really watch much modern television (I’m the rare Gen X kid that hasn’t seen Friends, I’ve never seen Pulp Fiction, and laugh at me if you must, but I don’t watch Game of Thrones), I spend a lot of time listening to the radio. Often times this involves listening to old time radio dramas, as I have mentioned here before. But I love music too. Nothing can capture emotion quite like a song. In fact, my favorite assignment I give my students in class is to create a personal playlist for a historical figure. On my phone, I have playlists divided by subject or mood. For example, I have a playlist of songs that remind me of various things that happened during my time in the fire service. I have a Civil War music playlist. A World War 1 playlist. A World War 2 playlist. A 90s playlist. Etc.

So whenever I start writing a book, I create a playlist for that book. Since most of what I do is historical fiction, it obviously includes popular songs from that time period. However, it also includes songs that remind me of or I equate with certain characters in the book. So Others May Live was no different than other things I’ve written, so here is the playlist I wrote the book to, and why each song was included.

Closing Time by Semisonic: The line in the song “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end” reminds me of Grace and the way the novel ends. (No spoilers!)

Only God Knows Why by Kid Rock: This is my personal theme song. “People don’t know about the things I say and do. They don’t understand about the shit that I’ve been through.” That sums up my life post retirement as I deal with physical and mental scars. But it also could fit Karl’s character as he is haunted by his own experiences.

Bombers Moon by Mike Harding. This could very well be Michael’s story in musical form. The funny thing is that I had never actually heard this song before until after the book was finished. But if they make it into a movie…..it would be a great theme song.

Lambeth Walk: Obviously the characters in England would have known this song as it was popular during the War. In fact, I remember my grandfather humming it to himself sometimes when I was a kid. It is indeed a catchy tune. It’s a nice dance too.

I Don’t Want to Wait Paula Cole: Move over Dawson and Pacy, I like the line in this song that says “And the war he saw lives inside him still”. That’s true of all of the characters in the book, not just Karl and Michael. It is sort of like how when you retire from public safety, you have images from calls running through your head on a continuous loop….or rather I do. I can’t speak for anyone else.

Mein Kleines Herz by Katharina Schutter. Proof that German isn’t necessarily a harsh language! This is not a World War Two song, but rather a World War 2 style song. It is from the excellent series Generation War. The actor Volker Bruch played one of the lead roles and he is who I’d like to see play Karl if they make mine into a series.

We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn. Actually, most of the versions of WW2 songs I listen to are Vera Lynn versions, because, well, she’s Vera Lynn. My grandfather liked this one. Grace and Michael would have no doubt known this song, as would his crew.

I’ll be Seeing You also by Vera Lynn. This was my grandfather’s favorite World War 2 song. I remember listening to it with him many, many times. I think it reminded him of my grandmother. Now when I hear it, I think of him.

Lili Marlene by Lale Anderson. The classic German song of the war. It was played on the radio regularly and was quite popular with German soldiers at the front, but also with allied soldiers. Karl and his comrades would’ve known this song well. In fact, I vaguely recall a reference to either the song or the singer in the book, but I may be confusing my book with something else.

Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden by various. I know for a fact this song is mentioned in the novel. It’s a military funeral song which predates the Nazis by several decades. It was played on the radio in Germany during the War, and often times, as in my book, it was played following air raids which does strike one as a bit morbid.

Keep the Home Fires Burning by various. Though normally associated with World War One, this song was also popular during World War Two. “And though your heart is breaking, make it sing this cheery song.” That can sum up the feelings of many young women, like Grace, who must put on a brave face while their loved ones serve in harms way.

A Long December by the Counting Crows. Though the novel takes place in November, it is still close to December, or rather close enough for this song to make sense. “It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” Would 1944 see the end of the war? Or would it drag on longer? In November of 1943, no one knew the answer to that question.

There are a few others too, but these are the main ones.

Happy Reading!

L.H.

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