Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sound of the Story: "Shade" by Jeri Smith-Ready

My love affair with music goes even farther back than even books.

Music makes everything better. Movies without a soundtrack or even a score would be boring. Car rides without music would suck. And I'm seriously thinking about hiring someone to follow me around with a boombox (oh yes) on their shoulder and play some awesome tunes at the appropriate times throughout my life. Nothing can heighten emotion like that perfect violin chord or a vocalist filled with so much passion for what they're singing or screaming, when it's called for.

So why the heck wouldn't we set books to music? I can't tell you how many times I've been reading a book that affected my emotions in some way or another and thought to myself, "(insert song name) describes this PERFECTLY."

So, since I love music and I love books, I thought I'd share some of those thoughts. Perhaps you'll agree or disagree, or maybe you'll even discover some new awesome music (I like to think my musical tastes are pretty B.A.)

So I was driving to work the other day and I had dug out Damien Rice's "O" album. I was feeling rather melancholy, going to work and all, and figured the soothing vocals of Damien and Lisa were precisely what the day called for. I came across a song that I tended to skip over for one reason or another, called "I Remember."

Holy crap.

I haven't read Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready since June, but the first time I listened to this song, the heartbreaking story of Aura and Logan's ill-fated relationship sprang to the front of my mind. The way that Lisa Hannigan's ethereal, longing vocals soar above the soft acoustic guitar and pull your heart out coincides perfectly with not only Aura's infatuation and love for aspiring musician Logan, but also conveys the deep loneliness she feels after his death.

I want you here tonight, I want you here
'Cause I can't believe what I found
I want you here tonight want you
'Cause nothing is taking me down
'Cept you, my love..

Reminds me of these quotes from the book:

"It was wrong to wish it, wrong to hope I'd ever see his smile again. I should've been praying for the passage of his soul... But I couldn't help it. I wanted Logan back, even in violet."

"A hole opened up inside me, so raw I had to curl up on my side away from his light...The hole gaped so big it seemed like I could crawl inside, let the darkness swallow all thoughts of the future that once stretched before us. We had lost forever."


Because even though Aura knows Logan is dead, she's aware that she still has the ability to see his ghost. And though letting go would be the right thing to do, the fact remains that she has access to him. Why would she let him go? Well, except for the fact that she can't touch or kiss him. Nothing is bringing her down but that.

"I Remember" happens to be a two part song. A couple minutes into the haunting melody, after Lisa breathe-whispers her last lyric, the chords change and Damien begins strumming a more unsettling, urgent guitar riff (I don't know if that's the right word for what it is. I love music, I don't play it :) I believe the disturbing, haunting instrumental paired with Damien's angry, tortured lyrics both accurately convey Logan's self-loathing toward the part he played in his unintentional death. Not to mention his jealousy over Aura's friendship with Zach. And his struggle to not become Shade.

God would forgive me
but I, I whip myself
Scorn, Scorn
I wanna hear
What you have to say about me
Hear if you're gonna live without me
Hear what you want
What the hell do you want?

Followed by a killer instrumental that (and I can't take credit for this phrase, I read it on youtube) is the "musical equivalent of a mental breakdown."

Seriously. Listen to this song. You may not agree with me, but you can't deny that this is serious musical passion.

Here is the link to stream it on Grooveshark.

And this is an unbelievable live version of "I Remember."

I don't know if any other bloggers have a similar feature. I haven't seen it, but then again it's impossible to follow every single blog out there. I'm sorry if I'm stepping on toes!

Please let me know what you think. If there's anything you particularly love, anything I could do differently. I'm just kind of winging it here, so the structure is a little crazy. I hope to do a little rearranging in the future to make it look cleaner :)

Happy reading & happy rockin' out.


  1. Jen, I hardly ever comment on reviews, etc., because I don't want to be intrusive, but I had to say...

    This made me cry so hard. The song is perfect and heartwrenching. I love every second of it, especially that live version. It's rare to find two things I love--sweet acoustic chords and brain-busting distortion--in one single song!

    But it also touched me that you thought of SHADE when you heard it. It means the characters really lived for you. And I'm like you--music is my first love (even though I'm not a musician). To me, songs get to the unutterable truth of feelings so much more than mere words on a page ever could. I wish I could be half the storyteller someone like Damien Rice is.

    So thank you! I hope other bloggers pick up on this meme. It would be fascinating to see how people connect music to different books.

  2. This was a great reference and blog entry for SHADE, and it's so true. The songwriters get about five minutes to tell a story and not only do they have to do that, they have to *sing* it. So yeah, props to the awesome songwriter/singers/musicians of the world.

    After all, they're storytellers too.

  3. Jeri, I cannot even tell you how much I squeed when I got an email telling me you commented. I was debating whether or not to post this. The idea had been swimming around in my head for about a week, but I didn't think I'd be able to connect the song and the book in a way that would depict the epicness of both. I know I wasn't able to. But thank YOU for writing a book that can draw out such emotions. Your characters are so perfectly, beautifully flawed and well-written. And thank you for acknowledging this post. I cannot WAIT for Shift.