April 17, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: THESE GENTLE WOUNDS by Helene Dunbar

Which came first, the book or the playlist? In the case of THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, (and everything I’ve written, really) they grew together. A song might change the course of my manuscript. A scene may cry out for a new song.  I should note that the playlist for TGW is not scene specific. Instead, I just played the whole thing over and over sometimes in random order, sometimes alphabetically, sometimes just one song on repeat when I wanted it to stay in my head.
Here’s a bit about the book:

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.

But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie's biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there's nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything--including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he's trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

Peter Gabriel – Birdy Soundtrack
The album is basically made up of instrumental remixes of some of Gabriel’s other work and I don’t think it’s coincidental that the title character of the film is a young man suffering from (war-related) PTSD. The music is haunting and dizzying. I used to listen to it in college fairly obsessively. Whenever I needed to get into Gordie’s headspace, I turned to this, particularly the track, Slow Marimbas, which still gives me chills even after all of these listens. Check it out because, alas, it isn’t on Spotify!

Cat Matador - "The Address"
Cat Matador is a now unfortunately defunct band from England. I had this entire EP on heavy rotation when I was writing for similar reasons to the Birdy soundtrack. There is something “spinny,” for lack of a better word, and ungrounded in their music that helped me to really get into what Gordie was feeling.

Reeve Carney / Bono "Bouncing Off the Walls" and "Rise Above" from Spiderman on Broadway 
I adore Reeve Carney’s voice with its strong/vulnerable tones. For me the sound nailed both Gordie’s struggle and his strength.

Spring Offensive – "A Let Down"
This one isn’t on Spotify either, but it really sat at the core of the TGW playlist so I had to include it.  love this band in more ways that I can say, and this song (http://youtu.be/5nONHXIFGO8) almost changed the entire course of the plot. I opted not to go in that direction, but whenever I was starting a Kevin/Gordie scene, I would listen to it on repeat. A lot.

REM - "Fretless"
Recorded for Wim Wender’s movie Until the End of the World, this song captures the heartbreak of growing up in a broken home. (“He’s got his work, she comes easy, they both come around when the other is gone. Me, I think I got stuck somewhere in between.”)

Snow Patrol - "Fifteen Minutes Old"
This reminds me of Sarah. “Can I have a picture of you tonight? Keep it with me always in my mind” is the most obvious line, but really Sarah is the first person that Gordie really takes a chance at trusting: mind, heart, body, and soul. I’m not sure that he could make the choices he does had she not come into his life and the lyrics mirror that.

Duncan Sheik – "Shout"
I think that Tears for Fears first album is one of the most underrated of the 80’s. And Duncan Sheik’s cover really gets to the heart of the pain of that song and the anger that Gordie doesn’t really allow himself to feel.

Copeland - No One Really Wins / The Church - The Unguarded Moment / Cat Stevens - Sad Lisa / In Liverpool - Suzanne Vega
Sometimes it isn’t about the lyrics, but the sound and feel. There are certainly lyrical elements to all of these songs that relate to TGW for me, but really they formed the background and tapestry of the feel of the book for me.

Chevelle - "Bend the Bracket"
For me, this song captures Kevin’s anger: slow and simmering and focused. Again, it’s about the feel rather than the lyrics.


You can get your own copy of THESE GENTLE WOUNDS via any of the following fine retailers!  
Amazon UKBarnes and Noble
Indigo Canada

Helene Dunbar (Nashville, TN) usually writes features about fiddles and accordions, but she's also written about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She's lived in two countries, six states, and currently holes up in Nashville with her husband, daughter, two cats, and the world's friendliest golden retriever.


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