Nick Drake — “Pink Moon”
Callie was introduced to Nick Drake by Aaron Kaplan when they were both 13. She lived across the tracks from Aaron’s family (across the culvert, actually). One bored summer, she broke into the Kaplans’ house, watched their TV, and ate a crazy number of English muffins. She was caught, but it turned out well — she worked off the debt, they became friends, and she learned that juvenile delinquency wasn’t really her thing.
Aaron was ahead of Callie in school — and in just about everything else. It was through him that she developed her appreciation for basketball, video games, quality music, and matzo.
“From The Morning” was the first Nick song that Aaron played for Callie. As perfectly melancholy as the song is, it reminds her powerfully of Mario Bros., Michael Jordan, and the satisfaction (however brief) of feeling at home.
Morphine — “The Night”
Is this the sexiest song ever? Yes, says Callie. Yes, it is.
PJ Harvey — “No Girl So Sweet”
On the pivotal night when Callie gets stranded in Masalay, her closest company is the PJ Harvey shirt on her back.
I watched the lights of the train get swallowed up in the night. Just stood there cursing.
Finally I went back to the office, too sick even to be mad. Locked. All dark and closed up. Down creepy dark halls till I found the parking lot. Completely empty. I got back to the platform. Stood under the one light not crying, absolutely not crying.
I had nothing. My passport and that goddamn form, a five-pound bill, some coins, an almost empty tin of ginger mints. Dressed like a fool — beach sandals, shorts, a P.J. Harvey shirt.
I tried remembering where we were heading, what the name of the place was, but I couldn’t think of it. I looked all over for a train schedule, but nada. There was a phone, old-school with a rotary dial. I stood there waiting for it to ring — Suapartni on the other end laughing about what a big cock-up it was. One of her favorite words, cock-up, right next to mad and brilliant, and I wanted to hear every one of them in a sentence that ended with We’ll be right there.
Here’s Polly Jean Harvey from her album Is This Desire?
Neil Diamond — “Sweet Caroline”
When Callie was 13 and living in North Carolina, she experimented with deliquency but wasn’t very good at it. The neighbor she stole from, Mrs. Kaplan, gave her a chance to make it up with chores:
The first couple times I came over, I tried to finish my chores fast and scurry out of there, but Mrs. Kaplan wasn’t having that and asked me for supper. Except for being Jewish, Mrs. Kaplan was as straight southern as okra and biscuits, both of which I got real familiar with in her house. She was of the (correct) opinion that I was too darn skinny and needed to do something with that hair of mine.
Another not-perfectly-Southern thing about Mrs. Kaplan: She loved Neil Diamond, especially when there was cleaning to be done. Callie has had a weakness for Neil ever since.
Massive Attack — “Live With Me”
An intense, sultry song from Massive Attack.
Callie was introduced to them (the album Mezzanine) by her first-year roommate, whose musical tastes were awful in every other respect.
Beck — “Guess I’m Doing Fine”
Listening to Beck’s album Sea Change is like drinking a perfectly steeped cup of melancholy.
Devics — “Distant Radio”
Haunting and propulsive at the same time — a song that would fit well on Callie’s inner soundtrack during her days and nights alone in Rika’s house.
The Rolling Stones — “Moonlight Mile”
Callie has always associated The Rolling Stones with her mother, who liked to play them on their very cheap and warbly tape deck. It’s not a good association. But although Callie has never forgiven her mother, she has, very gradually, come to forgive the Rolling Stones. She’ll never lose her Pavlovian loathing for much of their catalog, but there are a few songs she’s come to embrace. And this is one of them.
Mia Doi Todd — “I Gave You My Home”
An achingly gorgeous song about the simple pleasures of love and domesticity. The last line, especially, is perfect.
There are homes given in The Godling, and there eventually is true companionship, but the blissful intimacy described here remains out of reach.
The National — “Start A War”
This song hits a little close to home for Callie. All she wanted in Masalay was a brief change of scenery. She had no thoughts about staying, didn’t want to fall in love, and certainly never intended to start a war.
Broken Social Scene — “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”
The swirling, incantatory dreaminess of this song makes Callie feel nostalgic. Not for the teenage summers she actually experienced, but for the ones she wishes she had.
Ryan Adams — “Come Pick Me Up”
This is what you might call an “I can’t quit you (even though I really should)” song. Or think of it as a variation of the tried-and-true “you done me wrong” song — this is the dizzier and more fun cousin: “you’re gonna do me wrong, and I’m good with that.”