Sunday afternoon, 75°F and cloudy
Listening to Steppenwolf, The Pusher

One of my most treasured writing tools is the novel playlist I build specifically for each story I’m working on. It helps me get back into the characterizations, moods, situations, and settings for a particular book. Because I worked on State of Love & Trust off and on over the course of several years, its novel playlist grew, changed and shifted significantly over that time.

During my final revisions of State of Love & Trust, I rebuilt and added to a Spotify playlist specific to the novel. It’s heavy on Pearl Jam but contains many other artists and genres. The psychedelic rock, such as Time Has Come Today (The Chambers Brothers) is what’s played by Saint Wozniak’s cover band Psychedelic Space Trip, and also a genre Clive gets into. Some of the songs are from the albums that Clive paints cover replicas of, like D’yer Maker from Led Zeppelin’s House of the Holy. There are a few numbers Reece LeFanch sings loud and out of tune (like Are You Gonna Be My Girl, by Jet), as well as some tracks that Saint’s cadre of groupies master in Guitar Hero. The Bowie and T. Rex is for Becca’s character, a fan of old school glam rock.

The heart of Ellie’s story is inspired by the song State of Love & Trust, while Clive’s story, which was written first, has always been Of the Girl.  Meanwhile, Tremor Christ is not on the playlist for Saint’s song-namesake dog, but for all of the characters’ little secrets that turn to quakes.

I know I could have made an all new, shiny novel playlist based solely on the chapter titles—which are either Pearl Jam originals or songs they’ve covered in concert. But the actual playlist I used in the final revision process (which features many songs from earlier playlists) feels like the most accurate representation of what went into this story. This novel playlist isn’t just about Pearl Jam, which is appropriate because neither is State of Love & Trust.



Cover photo: author’s screenshot from Pearl Jam live on Letterman, 1996.