Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog Tour: Leverage - Joshua C. Cohen - Tens List - The Playlist Edition

Joshua C. Cohen is here today, courtesy of the Teen Book Scene blog tour, for his book Leverage. I hope you enjoy his music selection in this tens list! You can follow along with the tour here.

When I was working on the manuscript that would turn into my debut novel, Leverage, I often listened to music for inspiration and to help get me in the proper frame of mind. The following is a list of 10 (actually 11 …sort of like Spinal Tap speakers) fantastic songs that I played way too many times while writing Leverage. If you’ve never heard them, they are definitely worth a download.

1) Movies by Alien Ant Farm: This song captures, for me, all the emotional passion that was high school: Romantic crushes hurt! Bullies sucked! Zits were disfiguring! High school is an emotional roller coaster and this song encapsulates that intensity with its school-boy-angst lyrics and hard driving guitars. It definitely helped me get into the head of my character, Danny, in his day-to-day routine.

2) Got You (Where I Want You) by The Flys: This song was great for helping me remember the school hallways and how quickly things could change from seductive to threatening in only a few steps.

3) Hurt by Johnny Cash: This song was originally written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails but it is the Johnny Cash version I find so piercing and so sad. I often played it when I was trying to get into the mind of my book’s character, Kurt, and how closed-off he felt from the rest of the world.

4) Courage by Mychael Danna and Courage (For Hugh MacLennan) by The Tragically Hip: I’m lumping these two very different (and both fantastic) arrangements of the same song in one place. Both arrangements can be found in the movie The Sweet Hereafter which is a beautifully moody and dark film. The lyrics –“courage couldn’t come at a worse time”—resonated with me as I wrote about Danny and Kurt trying to build their resolve to expose the horrible secret that they had witnessed.

5) Disintegration by Jimmy Eat World: This song builds slow and is powered by a great off-time drum beat that drives home the desperation in the singer’s words. I tried not to overplay this song because I love it so much and it always came to mind when I was working on the scene where Kurt is searching out Tina—desperate for her help in a world seemingly without allies—and seeing her as his only hope.

6) Saeglópur by Sigur Rós: Sigur Rós does great “ethereal music” and it also helps that they sing in Icelandic so I don’t get distracted by their lyrics. This particular song has a powerful, epic feel as it explodes into a sort of charging warrior soundscape. It helped me envision Danny and Kurt steeling themselves for the upcoming battle they must fight together against the rampaging football captains.

7) For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) by AC/DC: The opening 122 seconds of this song are, hands down, the perfect rock anthem for any football scene featuring a slow motion, multi-angle shot of a great grid-iron hero getting ready to deliver punishment and divine retribution upon the other team. In Leverage, when Kurt is ordered to drive into the middle of the opposing team to break their defensive wall and silence their trash-talking linebacker, this is the song that must be playing in the heads of everyone witnessing it.

8) Words by Doves: Another great energetic piece that makes me think of athletes charging out onto the field amidst cheering crowds and all the hope and pressure that comes with such high expectations for greatness. I’m sure I was also influenced by the fact that this song was used to advertise the NFL channel a couple years ago.

9) An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno: This music comes off the soundtrack for the film Traffic. What can I say about this lovely instrumental song except that in its understated arrangement, it is an amazingly uplifting piece. After all Danny and Kurt have been through in Leverage, their triumph over the forces of terror leaves them not only victorious but exhausted, sad yet wiser. This piece truly captures all of that.

10) Take a Picture by Filter: This song always comes to mind when I remember finally signing my book publishing contract for Leverage. It captures the pure giddiness I felt and how, in my mind at least, I was partying like a rock star to celebrate!

Wow. I've heard of some of those songs, but not all. I'll definitely be checking them out. It sounds like they really helped "Leverage" come together! What an awesome playlist!

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