I’m feeling extremely excited tonight. Ivory Terrors is finally released tomorrow, and that’s the Cavaliers Series completed and four years of work come to an end. Earlier, I did some last checks and double-checks and bits of formatting, but now, I’ve uploaded the book to Amazon and Smashwords and that, substantially, is that.
Tomorrow, I intend to get emotional on here. I need to do some looking back and some looking forward, and offer some thanks. But for tonight, I’m keeping things fun, with a post I’ve been meaning to write for ages.
Books will always be my first cultural love, but music comes a close second. I’ve often said that when it comes to books, for me, while brilliant prose is always a bonus, the plot is by far the most important element. I take a rather similar view with music. I love a great tune, but it’s the lyrics that make a song for me. My favourite books often remind me of my favourite songs, and vice versa. And having spent so long thinking about The Cavaliers, it’s unsurprising that there are a number of songs that I always associate with the series.
I love finding playlists for my favourite books, and I’ve been meaning to put together one for the Cavaliers almost since Oxford Blood was published. The main think that finally made me get round to it (apart from feeling a bit demob happy after the final Ivory Terrors edit) was receiving an email from someone who’d read Oxford Blood, and alongside some other lovely comments, mentioned that, “During the early scenes of Harriet with Tom, before they were actually an item, before she knew what he was. The way they connected without understanding why, I heard Rihanna’s “Stay” playing in my head. Not just the lyrics but also the angst of how she sings them definitely reminds me of Harriet during those parts.”
I hadn’t consciously heard the song beforehand (though I’ve obviously listened to it since) but it made me so happy to think that someone was connecting with something I’d written in just the way I’ve connected with all the books I love. Anyway, here’s my list. You can listen to all of these songs via my Spotify playlist:
1)Moves Like Jagger (Maroon Five) and Break Your Heart (Taio Cruz)
If you fall for me
I’m not easy to please
I might tear you apart
Told you from the start,
Baby from the start.
I’m only gonna break, break your, break, break your heart.
I associate both of these songs with the Cavaliers in general. The charming “no girl can resist them” side, and the flip side, where “no girl can keep them.” I think both songs apply very well to pretty much all the members, but they particularly rmeind me of George.
I don’t need to try to control you
Look into my eyes and I’ll own you
With them moves like Jagger
I’ve got the moves like Jagger
2) A Lady of a Certain Age (Divine Comedy)
Back in the day you had been part of the smart set
You’d holidayed with kings, dined out with starlets
From London to New York, Cap Ferrat to Capri
In perfume by Chanel and clothes by Givenchy
This is a song about how it doesn’t matter how rich and beautiful you are, one day, you’re going to get old. Adelaide French begs to differ. The opening verse sums up her lifestyle, and the (in the song, self-deluding) chorus seems eerily appropriate for a woman who looks like her daughter’s slightly older sister:
“You wouldn’t think that I was fifty three”
And he’d say,”no, you couldn’t be!
3) Love Lust (King Charles) and Love Blood (King Charles)
Well I’ve got love in my blood, and I’ve got you on my brain.
I haven’t got enough blood, I cannot love you enough.
If you’ve got love in your blood, if it is bolder than death
Oh let it spill, let it spill, over the heart you love best.
I mentioned this way back in one of my first ever blog posts on here. I don’t think it’s meant to be about vampires, but the combination of obsessive love and darkness (not to mention all the blood references!) work perfectly.
Love Blood (a different song by the same musician) also has the slightly discomfiting refrain, “Never let a woman go even when you know she can always be replaced. She can always be replaced.” Firstly, it was utterly bizarre to see King Charles in concert and listen to the whole audience (me included) cheerfully singing along to that chorus. Secondly, all I can ever think of when I hear it is what Harriet always refers to as, “George’s little fan club,” the girls he keeps half-mesmerised so he can call on them whenever they need a snack.
4) Pretty much anything by Vampire Weekend – if pushed, I’ll go with Taxi Cab
They may be American, but few bands better sum up the atmosphere of Oxford than these guys. I don’t think I’d ever have got Oxford Blood finished without their first album on repeat. This one is less about any specific lyrics, and more about the general preppy mood they conjure up. And then there’s this wonderful quotation from the lead singer about their three albums. You’ve got to like one of your favourite bands referencing one of your favourite books, and I can’t imagine many other musicians saying this,, which reminds me why I tend to love trilogies, and which applies to my novels to some degree:
“It reminded me of Brideshead Revisited,” said Mr. Koenig, who writes the band’s lyrics. “The naïve joyous school days in the beginning. Then the expansion of the world, travel, seeing other places, learning a little bit more about how people live. And then the end is a little bit of growing up, starting to think more seriously about your life and your faith. If people could look at our three albums as a bildungsroman, I’d be O.K. with that.”
That said, I do love the following verse, which reminds me of one of my favourite scenes in the whole trilogy (albeit one I sometimes wish I’d managed to put a slightly better spin on) when Harriet goes to the Cavaliers Dinner with George, shortly after he bit her on the Steele Walk:
In the shadow of your first attack
I was questioning and looking back
You said, “Baby, we don’t speak of that”
Like a real aristocrat
And of course, there’s always Oxford Comma’s rather apt, “I’ve seen those English Dramas too. They’re cruel.”
5) Atlas (Julia Johnson/Gray)
I struggle to put into words just what it is about this song that reminds me of the books. It’s much less easy to relate the lyrics to the plot, but there’s something about it that really catches the same part of my imagination. If Vampire Weekend was the soundtrack to writing book one, her album and King Charles’ got me through Screaming Spires. In particular, it’s these lines, which always make me think of Harriet’s progression through the series. I came so close to emailing the author and asking if I could quote them in the final part of Ivory Terrors:
They say take what you want and pay for it, so I do
They say learn from your mistakes and I learned from you
6) Set Fire to the Rain (Adele)
This is a relatively new addition to the list. It’s a great song about intense, destructive relationships. I’ve suggested before that I steer well clear of this sort of emotional torture in both real life and contemporary fiction, but somehow, for me, everything is better with vampires. The song works well for the whole series, but I’m also going to be ridiculously specific and suggest that you put it on in the background for Chapter Eighteen and a certain section of Chapter Nineteen of Ivory Terrors, because it’s just perfect for it.
But my knees were far too weak
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet
But there’s a side to you that I never knew, never knew
All the things you’d say, they were never true, never true
And the games you’d play, you would always win, always win
I’ll stop there, otherwise I could easily carry on all night. I’m very tempted to do another of these at some point, or maybe even a chapter by chapter run through of one of the books. I hope you’ve found some new songs through this, and don’t forget to grab a copy of Ivory Terrors tomorrow.
Does anyone else have any songs they associate with the books?