Prior to the release of my novel “Voodoo Hideaway” – it officially went on sale June 20, so buy it here or here or here! – I exchanged many communiques with folks in the marketing department at Atmosphere Press. During one of these exchanges, it was brought to my attention that some writers have put together Spotify music playlists to serve as soundtracks to their books.
Well, when I heard about this, I forgot about the book I needed to promote and spent the next several hours in a near-obsession throwing together my own Spotify list. I was probably up ‘til 3 in the morning jotting down different songs.
That was a few weeks ago. Since then, I have fussed over the list, tweaking it here and there, taking this song out, putting that one in, keeping the same song but changing the artist, keeping the same song and artist but changing the version. I’m an old hand at this kind of thing, having spent many years making mix tapes as a manic hobby of sorts.
I still haven’t signed up for Spotify. But, I have the “Voodoo Hideaway” playlist, and present it here for your reading pleasure.
I was told that it’s best to keep Spotify lists to about two hours, so I kept it close to that. At some point maybe I’ll get around to actually putting it on Spotify and using it as a marketing tool. For now, it’s just on this blog.
(Important update: The marketing whizzes at Atmosphere Press actually got the list up on Spotify, and you access it here. Thanks to Cammie, Lennie and Christina!).
A quick explanation: Every song on the list has some connection to “Voodoo Hideaway,” either directly or indirectly. Music is a central theme in the book because when I write I like to see and hear the story as well as tell it, and hearing it means there’s music in the pages.
I also tried to ensure that the songs fell into the right time period(s), with only a couple songs dating to years before or after the story takes place. The songs are in an order intended to take you from the opening chapter to the end, in some semblance of a plot timeline. But don’t worry –no spoilers here!
I wasn’t interested in making a list of my favorite songs. It was more important that they fit with the book. However, I do dig each of these songs.
All songs below are linked to versions on YouTube. I also included the running times for the versions linked, as well as brief descriptions of their connections to “Voodoo Hideaway.” Hope you enjoy.
Also: Buy “Voodoo Hideaway!”
You Do Something to Me, Ella Fitzgerald (2:24): Famous for the lyric, “Do do that voodoo that you do to me.”
Life During Wartime, Talking Heads (5:54): The first page of “Voodoo Hideaway” lets the reader know that things are going to get rough. In other words, this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around. The link here is to a live version, which is a couple minutes longer than the original.
Strange Brew, Cream, (2:51): A magic potion plays a key part in the book. Plus, there’s something foreboding about the sound of this song.
Misterioso, Thelonious Monk (3:21): Jazz + mystery = an important stew in “Voodoo Hideaway.”
New Coat of Paint, Tom Waits (3:20): This loungey ode to livin’ it up fits nicely with the book’s undercurrent of seeking the good life. “We’ll laugh at that old bloodshot moon/In that burgundy sky.”
Round Here, Snoop Dogg (3:43): “Voodoo Hideaway” is set in New York, and Snoop is rapping about the LBC (Long Beach, Calif.) here. But the book and his song are both set in dangerous parts of town, so the message works. Warning: the lyrics are explicit and probably offensive to a lot of folks in 2021.
Creep, Radiohead (3:57): A couple of the main characters are more than a little creepy. Relevant lyric: “It’s okay if it hurts/I want to have control.”
Money (That’s What I Want), The Flying Lizards (2:31): Money is a driving force behind most of the action in “Voodoo Hideaway.” I could have gone with better-known versions of this song by Barrett Strong or the Beatles, but this bizarro, new-wavey version with the female lead “singer” fits better (she doesn’t really sing so much as converse).
That’s Life, Frank Sinatra (3:08): “You’re flying high in April/Shot down in May.” Many of the characters can relate.
Ramblin’ Man, The Allman Brothers (4:47): One of the main characters is, indeed, a ramblin’ man.
Easy Living, Uriah Heep (2:39): The song and lyrics make an appearance about midway into the book.
1999, Prince (3:46): You’ll know why I included this song pretty early on.
Love Me or Leave Me, Nina Simone (4:06): This song has the proper jazz vibe, and Nina is a homey from North Carolina, just like one of the characters.
I Fought the Law, The Clash (2:40): Sometimes mobsters don’t get away with it.
Loser, Beck (3:54): Sort of the bookend to “Creep.” Key lyric: “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” Which may or may not happen in “Voodoo Hideaway.”
The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel (5:09): Paints a picture of the Big Apple when it was a much harder, grimmer place, back when you might seek out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go, looking for the places only they would know.
Superstition, Stevie Wonder (4:27): This classic 70s hit was mentioned in the book. “When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.”
Rebirth of Slick, Digable Planets (4:20): Jazzy 90s hip-hop. Cool like dat.
Living in the Past, Jethro Tull (3:25): A major theme in the book.
KC Blues, Charlie Parker (3:24): Kansas City was one of America’s jazz capitals during the first half of the 20th century, and maybe the jazz capital for a couple of years during the Depression. Plus, KC makes a couple cameos in “Voodoo Hideaway.”
Goin’ Back to Cali, LL Cool J (3:48): A hep jazz intro to a classic 80s rap song. Plus, one of the characters keeps threatening to bolt for California.
Fairytale of New York, The Pogues (4:03): The main connection here is the man and woman trading vicious, bitter insults in the middle of the song.
Visions of Johanna, Bob Dylan (7:33): Written while Dylan was living in New York’s Chelsea Hotel with his pregnant wife Sara in 1965. “Lights flicker from the opposite loft/In this room the heat pipes just cough.”
They Say I Must Be Crazy, Indigo Swing (2:39): Swing music had a brief moment around the turn of the Millennium, and this song hits a few of the right notes about a hinted-at love affair in the book.
God Bless the Child, Billie Holliday (4:00): Another song that is directly referenced in the book.
Empire State of Mind, Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys (4:42): I more or less included this for its modern take on the town so nice they named it twice. “And since I made it here/I can make it anywhere.”
Hoochie Coochie Man, Muddy Waters (2:53): One unfortunate character quoted part of the lyrics to this song during a brief appearance.
Bad Moon Rising, Thea Gilmore (3:41): Probably an obvious choice for a story that foreshadows some kind of bad voodoo early on. I had the original Creedence Clearwater Revival version plugged in here, then came across this new version by Thea Gilmore as part of the soundtrack to some zombie flick. She offers up a nice little acoustic take that in some weird way sounds even spookier than the CCR version.
Money, Pink Floyd (6:20): Another obvious selection, this one about blind devotion to money. But it fits – and don’t give me that do goody-good bullshit.
Peter Gunn Theme, Duane Eddy (2:35): The go-to instrumental for when the action takes a wicked turn. I chose the Duane Eddy theme over the better-known Henry Mancini version because of the twangy guitar, which doesn’t actually seem to be very prominent here.
Man Down, Rihanna (4:21): About a man getting shot down. It has a Caribbean beat, which is fitting, since one of my favorite characters in the novel is a woman with roots in Barbados.
Oh Sweet Nuthin’, The Velvet Underground 7:26: They ain’t got nothin’ at all.
Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, Miles Davis (single version, 2:49): Any Spotify list about “Voodoo Hideaway” should begin and end with jazz legends referencing voodoo.