The sound track to Tideline

Tideline music

I’m excited to be piloting a programme for Cambridge Radio 105 with Leigh Chambers of Angles writing group.(  She suggested incorporating some music from Tideline as part of the interview.

I’m not in the tiniest bit musical myself, but I chose to make Jez, (the teenage boy who is abducted by a middle aged woman)  musical, because I wish I was.

Characters can sometimes act as a kind of wish fulfilment!

I do, however, listen to music whilst writing or at least whilst thinking about writing as it puts me in that day-dream state where ideas flow more freely. Below is a  list of the music that not only helped usher ideas along during the writing of Tideline but also appears in the book.
PS Just noticed all the male artists featured look a little like Jez!

 1. Wild World By Cat Stevens

The book opens with Sonia hearing Wild World on the radio as she first lays eyes on Jez at her door. The song was in the charts in the Seventies when Sonia was having her passionate relationship with Seb. Hearing it now  confuses her, it’s the first time she feels as if the  past is mingling intrusively with the present- a sense exacerbated by confronting this beautiful boy at the door who reminds her of her first love.

I chose Wild World because we aren’t sure if it’s a parent singing to a child or a man to his lover. This ambiguity is what I was trying to achieve in Sonia’s feelings towards Jez, on the one hand parental/protective on the other hand amorous.

There is  something plaintive about Cat Steven’s voice, one senses the singer’s longing to keep the beloved safe,  but the imperative for acceptance of his lover’s/child’s departure.

 2. Tim Buckley The Best of / Dolphins

Jez has come to the house in search of a rare Tim Buckley album. I wanted Jez to be into a musician who was at once romantic, masculine, highly talented, but also someone from Sonia’s era, which would bond her (in her mind) to him. Tim Buckley played the twelve string guitar which Jez is learning and which will come to be significant in the plot. He also wrote songs featuring water. Tim Buckley’s song Dolphins though not directly referred to, echoes in some ways the relationship between Sonia and Seb, recalling when they were ‘running wild’ but searching for dolphins, where Seb and Sonia were searching for swans. I have my honorary god son Jethro Pemberton- himself a talented musician- to thank for coming up with the idea of using Tim Buckley.

 3. John Willliams
► 59:46► 59:46

 Jez first plays guitar sitting in Sonia’s kitchen as she gets him drunk. He plays something Classical that I remember the guitarist  John Williams playing, though the exact piece isn’t specified.  I chose this as my own late father played classical guitar- his music was the sound track to my childhood- and John Williams was one of his favourite guitarists.

I find  something almost mystical about the disjunction between an instrument I associate with pop or folk being made to produce the exquisite and profound sounds that characterise classical music.

 4. The Bach Cello Suites

Sonia plays the Bach Cello Suites on the CD player the night Greg, her husband, and Kit, her daughter come home. Sonia has to regain some semblance of order and sanity while they are home,  and the cello suites,  at once intensely melancholy but mathematical and rational in their structure,  seemed appropriate here, contrasting with Sonia’s fragmenting mind.

 5. Mahler’s 5th Symphony

However, Greg then tries to put Mahler’s fifth symphony on, this is a deliberate reference to Death in Venice the film in which the Dirk Bogard character falls in love with a young boy he sees on the beach. The music is the theme tune to the film and conjures the tortuous and intensely passionate  feelings of an impossible love and yearning for lost youth, or the desire to preserve somehow the beauty of youth. Sonia tells Greg to take the music off, not wanting to have her own impossible passions stirred up while she is trying to control them.

Greg, unaware then puts John Williams on the CD player jolting Sonia who last heard Jez playing this music.

6. Tosca Puccini

Puccini’s opera Tosca is the next musical reference chosen because my dear friend Beatrice took me to a rehearsal while I was writing the book and the themes of jealousy and vengeance with which it deals also appear in Tideline. Far be it for me to try to summarise a whole opera here- suffice it to say Sonia finds the opera cathartic, admiring Tosca’s ability to kill for love- a foreshadowing of what she will do.

 7. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, cover Jeff Buckley

When Sonia brings Jez back from his incarceration in the garage and tries to nurse him back to health, she brings him to the kitchen, as a precaution tying him to a kitchen chair,  and plays Jeff Buckley’s (Tim Buckley’s son)’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. This is a mysterious, lyrical song with references perhaps to the story of Samson and Delilah.  ‘She tied you to the kitchen chair she broke your throne and she cut your hair.’

I wanted this to be a hint at how far Sonia might go with Jez.

Jeff Buckley’s must be the most intense rendition of the song- (listen to it on Youtube!) Apparently Jeff Buckley described his cover of the song as an Hallelujah to the orgasm! It is undeniably incredibly intense.

Just as a note on the reference to the Buckleys- Tim Buckley died at the age of twenty eight of an overdose, sadly and ironically Jeff too died at twenty eight, drowning in a river one night- another similarity between what happens to one of the characters in the book.

My apologies to any musicians reading this for any inaccuracies- you will see the vastness of my ignorance about  music. I listen to music  only for inspiration and to enhance my creativity while writing, and have  a profound admiration for anyone who can make or play music themselves or understands the technicalities behind its mysterious capacity to move in a way it seems to me, no other artistic medium can do.

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