If you haven't already listened to the MY FATHER'S SECRET playlist, make sure you take a bit of time and listen to the catchy tunes that I dug up for you. It's a different way to enjoy the novel either while you're reading (though this option isn't for everyone) or while you are away from the book. I personally like listening to the playlist when I am driving and when I am taking it easy around the house. The songs are linked to each chapter and sub-chapter of the novel in one of three ways:
Zombie by the Cranberries Featured in the song list for Chapter 1 of the novel, Zombie was inspired by two bombings in Warrington, England (between Liverpool and Manchester) in 1993. The IRA claimed responsibility for the bombings, one of which killed two: Tim Parry, 12, and Jonathan Ball, just three-years-old. Dozens of other people were injured in the wake of the explosion. The event inspired Dolores O'Riordan to write the song as a tribute to Parry and Ball. Music critics at the time called the song a departure from the Cranberries more melodic ballads as Zombie launches into a forceful, uptempo, alternative rock classic. I chose the song for the playlist because it clearly spoke to the Troubles and signalled a theme and tone that fit my storyline. You probably want to check out the video for Zombie here.
Use Me by Bill WithersUse Me by Bill Withers was picked for the playlist because it captures the mood of 1972 from a musical perspective. It is part of the Chapter 2 song selection that includes a mixture of 1970s and early-2000s music. Of all the tunes associated with Chapter 2, Use Me stands out for it's classic groove and soulful vibe. The song itself was Wither's second biggest hit (after Lean on Me) and reached number 2 on the Billboard Chart (kept from number 1 by Michael Jackson's Ben and Chuck Berry's My Ding-a-ling). Where Zombie was picked for the songs clear link to the Troubles, Use Me was picked to set a 1970s mood for the listener/reader.
Bad Side of the Moon by April WineThis Canadian classic was selected for the playlist from two reasons: (a) because it's performed by a Canadian band and (b) because the lyrics hit the mark for what I was trying to achieve in the scene 'A Canadian and a Provo' in Chapter 3. At this point in the story, the RCMP Security Service are coming to terms with the arrival of Darcy Byrne from Northern Ireland. He's bad news. The first words of the song capture the theme:
It seems as though I've lived my life on the bad side of the moon
To stir your dregs and sittin' still, without a rustic spoon
Now come on people, live with me, where the light has never shone
And the harlots flock like hummingbirds, speaking in a foreign tongue
While I identify the song as a Canadian classic (mostly because April Wine made it a huge hit in Canada), Bad Side of the Moon was actually written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1970. Not as Canadian as one might think. You can hear Sir Elton's version by clicking here.
Unwell by Matchbox TwentyLike Use Me, Unwell by Matchbox Twenty was picked to set a mood—this time for November 2003, the time period where Declan Keenan begins to investigate his father's secret. At this point in the story, Keenan is locked away in a school library immersing himself in the available research (of which there is very little) into the downing of BOAC Flight 281. The melody and lyrics provided by songwriter Rob Thomas are a solid reflection of what people were listening to in 2003.
Gimme Shelter by the Rolling StonesChapter 5 of My Father's Secret is pivotal in moving the plot toward its intended (and predictable) destination. Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones serves to not only capture the spirit of 1972, it also fits the theme of the chapter. As Mick Jagger sings at the start of the song:
Ooh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Ooh yeah I'm gonna fade away
The song then proceeds with a sense of urgency (War, children/It's just a shot away) as the focus of the song speaks of the need for shelter from the madness that is occurring in the world with the rhythm of the song reflecting the lyrics. In Chapter 5, the madness is brewing with the characters not knowing how desperately shelter against the coming storm is needed.
Dark Necessities by the Red Hot Chili-PeppersWith one of the catchiest bass lines of all time (in my humble opinion), Dark Necessities takes the listener on a musical journey that both embodies the musical essence of the Red Hot Chili-Peppers and captivates the listener with its melody and lyrics. In Chapter 6 of My Father's Secret, the Irish hatch a plan to mess with the RCMP Security Service. Their propensity for evil becomes evident. Indeed each emerging terrorist could be described with the refrain 'dark necessities are part of my design.'
Bad Company by Bad CompanyIn Chapter 7, the events of 1973 take centre stage. The music on the playlist blends dark themes with 1970s rock songs—sometimes in the form of cover tunes like John Lennon's Instant Karma, covered by U2. Bad Company by Bad Company takes the listener back to the shadier side of the 1970s as Paul Rodgers expresses an oath to be part of 'Bad company til the day I day.' He describes what bad company looks like:
Deserters we are called
Chose a gun and threw away the sword
In My Father's Secret, Chapter 7 is all about the men who 'chose a gun and threw away the sword.'
Idioteque by RadioheadRadiohead is one of those bands that, when I listened to them for the first time, I thought they were pretty good ... that is until I listened to them a second and a third and a forth time. I love bands that get better every time their music hits my ear. Idioteque is connected to the What's Our Exposure scene in Chapter 8. The song explores the angst of those living in wartime. From the perspective of My Father's Secret, the scene associated with this song is best described in the lyrics: 'We're not scaremongering, This is really happening.' Once you read the scene, you'll know what I mean.
Calling All Angels by TrainChapter 9 is called Declan's Last Stand. The main characters search for justice is frustrated at times and Calling All Angels by Train reflects Declan's appeal for help—or even just an explanation for why things are unfolding the way they are unfolding. This part of the song describes Declan's struggle:
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said
And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels
A Farewell to Kings by RushThe experience of music continually sounding better with each listen is something I first experienced while listening to Rush's A Farewell to Kings when I was a teen. I soon discovered that Rush always sounded better over time and with plenty of volume. How three guys made all that music is a marvel to me.
Rush appears four times on the My Father's Secret playlist: Hope, Cinderella Man (covered by the Trews), Resist and A Farewell to Kings. The final Rush song on the playlist is really associated with the Afterword where I speak of how the Air India tragedy of 1985 inspired the writing of the novel. The Afterword is an expression of dismay and disappointment in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history. Neil Peart put's my thoughts into eloquent poetry:
The hypocrites are slandering
The sacred halls of truth
Ancient nobles showering
Their bitterness on youth
Can't we find
The minds that made us strong?
Oh, can't we learn
To feel what's right and what's wrong?
My Father's Secret tells a story of betrayal that encourages people to 'feel what's right and what's wrong.'
There are 82 songs on the playlist. I have described ten of the them here. If you want to see the rest, go to the playlist on YouTube Music or click on the Word file below. It is a pretty cool way to experience the novel in a very different kind of way.
Sean Patrick Dolan's Blog
Sean Patrick Dolan is the author of the thriller, My Father's Secret, inspired by the Air India Bombing.