Music I listened to obsessively while writing this book:
Liz Phair — Liz Phair — Remember that really, really high-maintenance gal you had a crush on in college? Wonder what she’s up to now that you’re both approaching 40? Here’s your chance to find out… Seriously, I bought Exile in Guyville when it came out but never got into it. I prefer my subversive feminist rock with melody, and at least occasional on-key singing. But when I heard Liz Phair had sold out and hired Avril Lavigne’s production team, I knew it was time to give her another chance. I love this album; predictably, my favorite songs are the ones her critics and ex-fans are giving her the hardest time for: “Underwear,” “H.W.C.,” and “Why Can’t I?” Given that Bad Monkeys’ protagonist is a thirtysomething woman of questionable sanity, this would make an excellent unofficial theme album.
Traffic — The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys — Yeah, it’s an oldy, but the line in the title song about the “gun that didn’t make any noise” matches a bit of business I came up with for the novel, so I played it a lot.
Evanescence — Fallen — The only good thing about the movie Daredevil was that it introduced me to these guys. Their songs all sound pretty much the same, but in a good way.
Vertical Horizon — Go — A nice follow-up to Everything You Want.
Pink — Try This — Not as good as Missundaztood, but I like “God is a DJ.”
Avril Lavigne — Under My Skin — The angry pixie returns.
Terri Clark — Greatest Hits — In August of 2004 I gave a reading in Leavenworth, Washington, which is a Bavarian theme village up in the mountains northeast of Seattle. On the way there, the guy who was driving me put on a country music station, and Terri Clark’s “Girls Lie Too” jumped out at me. There are some other good songs here too (it is a greatest hits album after all); I especially like “I Just Wanna Be Mad.” Clark’s cover of “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is basically indistinguishable from the original, but if you’re one of those people who recently burned their Linda Rondstadt collection, it could come in handy.
Gretchen Wilson — Here for the Party — Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” is another song that stood out from the pack, so I bought her album too.
Cake — Comfort Eagle — As we got closer to Leavenworth, the country station faded out and was replaced by an entirely different musical universe.
The Darkness — Permission to Land — If Queen had hired Dick Cheney to spice up their lyrics, they might have sounded something like this.
The Corrs — Borrowed Heaven — I liked their last album enough to give them another try, and am glad I did. Almost all the songs are good, but my favorites are “Angel,” “Long Night,” “Even If,” and the title track. By the way, am I the last person on the planet to figure out that they’re Irish?
Patti Smith Group — Wave — Got it for the song “Dancing Barefoot,” which was used in an episode of the second season of Millennium. I’m still making up my mind about the rest of the album.
Barry Manilow — Greatest Hits, Vols. 1, 2, & 3 — OK, not really. I do own copies of these (purchased back at the dawn of the CD era), and I hit a scene in Bad Monkeys where I thought it would be amusingly incongruous to have Barry Manilow playing in the background as I wrote, but somewhere between “Looks Like We Made It” and “Daybreak” I began to feel as though I were trapped in the lobby of the Muzak Corporation. Sorry, Barry, I’m as nostalgic as they come, but you are officially over.
Rob Zombie — Hellbilly Deluxe — Ah, much better.
Anna Nalick — Wreck of the Day — Recommended to me by Amazon.com when I went to order Liz Phair’s latest. Of the two, Nalick definitely has the better voice, but Liz still has the sexy high-maintenance thing locked.
Eurythmics — Revenge — One of the few Eurythmics albums I didn’t already own in CD format. I bought it for the home stretch, believing (correctly) that “Missionary Man” would be oh-so-perfectly topical. “When Tomorrow Comes” still really rocks, too.
Hair movie soundtrack — I got nostalgic for Hair after watching Rent on DVD and realizing that the Vietnam generation had better music than the AIDS generation.
David Bowie — Hunky Dory and Scary Monsters — More new old music for the final edit.