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Ghosts

A SOUNDTRACK TO THE NOVELS, VOL IV


Ghosts

The Ghosts CD was bound into a limited signed edition of The Wolf in Winter sold by Waterstones bookstores in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and distributed at signings in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Australia. To reward/console American readers (and booksellers) for the six-month gap in publication dates between the United Kingdom and the United States, the American edition of the Ghosts CD includes additional tracks. Copies were distributed at signings in the United States and Mexico, and at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in Long Beach, CA. Some US independent booksellers will also have CDs to give away with the mass market publication of The Wolf in Winter in July 2015.

My thanks to all of the bands, artists, and record labels involved for their kindness and co-operation. Special thanks, too, to my fellow author Kate O'Hearn, who took time out from entertaining her readers to work on this project; to Alasdair Oliver at Hodder & Stoughton who, in addition to designing the wonderful covers for my books, took on the task of designing this CD; and to all at MCPS in Dublin and everyone at Trend Studios for their assistance with clearances and production respectively.

The available songs are a playlist on Spotify; to find them, search for spotify:user:johnconnollybooks (US) or spotify:user:johnconnollybooksuk (UK).

TRACK LIST

  1. Greenman XTC
  2. Among the Leaves Sun Kil Moon
  3. Lay All Your Love on Me Susanna
  4. Freight of Fire Scud Mountain Boys
  5. Hares On The Mountain Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell
  6. This One Eats Souls The Blackeyed Susans
  7. Green Grass of Tunnel Múm (US CD only)
  8. Every Dead Thing Envoy
  9. Circle of Ash Candidate
  10. Your Ghost Kristin Hersh
  11. I Could Drive Forever (Smog) (US CD only)
  12. Love Like Blood Icehouse
  13. Who By Fire Giovanna Pessi, Susanna Wallumrød, Jane Achtman and Marco Ambrosini
  14. It's Getting Late in the Evening Davide Rossi
  15. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead Mogwai


1. XTC, "Greenman"
(from the album Apple Venus Volume 1)
Written by Andy Partridge
Label: BMG/Chrysalis
Released: 1999
Published by ©Universal Music Publishing Group
Used by permission

"And you know for a million years he has been your lover/ Down to the skin to the core."

I think this track may have been my introduction to the whole Green Man mythos, which plays such a crucial role in The Wolf in Winter (and is also referenced in Conquest, the science fiction novel that I wrote with my other half, Jennie Ridyard). I find that collision of the pagan and the Christian, the notion of ancient foliate figures becoming decorative aspects of church architecture, quite fascinating, and not a little sinister. I've also long been a fan of XTC, to the extent that I gave their name to my ABC to XTC radio show, and "Greenman" remains my favourite song from the later part of their career.

Further listening: English Settlement, The Big Express, Oranges & Lemons


2. Sun Kil Moon, "Among the Leaves"
(from the album Among the Leaves)
Written by Mark Kozelek
Label: Caldo Verde Records
Released: 2012
Licensed courtesy of Caldo Verde Records

"Under moons I pass the tombs/ Cross the highways, smell the fumes/ See a girl frighteningly gaunt..."

When I compiled the first of these collections for The Black Angel back in 2005, "Summer Dress" by Red House Painters was among the tracks I regarded as integral, in part because I've always loved Mark Kozelek's band so much, but also because the ghost of Parker's dead wife manifests herself in the books as a half-glimpsed figure wearing a summer dress, and everything about that song's mood and lyrics seemed to echo what I was trying to achieve in those scenes. I subsequently met Mark at a concert in Dublin and passed on a copy of the book and CD to him. Out of that arose an ongoing correspondence by letter and e-mail, and a friendship that I value dearly. I was very touched, therefore, when "among the leaves," a simple phrase from The Whisperers, caught his eye and led him to name a 2012 album by his band Sun Kil Moon after it. The title track is just beautiful.

Further listening: Ghosts of the Great Highway, April, Red House Painters (also known as Rollercoaster)


3. Susanna, "Lay All Your Love On Me."
(from the album Flowers of Evil)
Written by Benny Göran Bror Andersson, Bjorn K. Ulvaeus
Label: SusannaSonata
Released: 2008
Copyright ©Union Songs Musikforlag AB
Used by permission of Susanna

"It was like shooting a sitting duck..."

From the beginning I knew that Ghosts was going to concentrate heavily on cover versions, which meant that this track by the gifted Norwegian singer Susanna Wallumrød was going to be top of the list. It's so good that it even sparks a discussion in The Burning Soul after Parker hears it playing in a coffee shop. I think ABBA was the first group to catch my attention when I was a child, and I covered my bedroom wall with posters of the band. I never really understood the wave of irony that seemed to wash over ABBA's reputation in the years after their demise, as if the only way that one could listen to them was with a crooked, condescending smile on one's face. This is adult music, about adult concerns. Stripped here of its electro-disco backing, and slowed down to a ballad, it becomes almost unbearably sad.

Further listening: Melody Mountain, Wild Dog


4. Scud Mountain Boys, "Freight of Fire"
(from the album The Early Year)
Written by Joe Pernice
Administered by BUG Music
Released: 1997
Published by Bony Gap Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Ashmore Records

"Bring your guns/ Bring out all your ammunition..."

This song was originally earmarked for the Love & Whispers compilation released at the same time as The Whisperers, but we had problems securing the rights. In the 1990s, inspired in part by a compilation CD entitled New Sounds of the Old West included with Britain's Uncut magazine and a similar collection from the Loose record label, I became very interested in the emerging Americana genre of music. A number of the artists from those CDs—Jim White, Lambchop, Willard Grant Conspiracy—have appeared on some of the earlier compilations created to go with my books. I came to the Scud Mountain Boys through the Pernice Brothers, the band formed by Joe Pernice after SMB broke up, and "Freight of Fire" just caught me right from the start. I think, if I remember correctly, that the song is referenced in The Reapers, although as the years go by I struggle to remember the details of a lot of my earlier novels, which leads to embarrassing moments at signings when readers ask me questions that I can't answer, causing them to wonder if I actually wrote the books in the first place.

Further listening: Massachusetts, Overcome by Happiness (by Pernice Brothers)


5. Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell, "Hares on the Mountain"
(from the EP The North Farm Sessions)
Trad. Arr. Kearney/Farrell
Label: Rabble Rouser Music
Released: 2009
Published (P) by Rabble Rouser Ltd
Licensed courtesy of Rabble Rouser Limited

"If all the young girls were hares on a mountain/ How many young men would take guns and go hunting?"

Some years ago I went to see The Unthanks, a fine Northumberland folk group, perform at Whelan's in Dublin. Their support act was Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell, a young folk duo of whom, I suspect, most of the audience had not heard before. It's not doing The Unthanks an injustice to say that, had they been taken ill, everyone present would quite contentedly have settled down to listen to Kearney & Farrell for the evening. Their take on this love song from Southern England, which I think dates from the start of the last century, was the highlight of the night. Perhaps it's my own dark turn of mind, but it struck me that there is something slightly unnerving about the couplet quoted above.

Further listening: Kite


6. The Blackeyed Susans, "This One Eats Souls"
(from the album Reveal Yourself 1989-2009)
Written by Kakulas/McComb
Label: Liberation Music
Released: 2009
Published by Mushroom Music
(P) & ©The Blackeyed Susans
Used by permission

"You will be perfect host as it grows inside..."

One of the bands featured on the first of these compilation CDs was The Triffids from Perth, Australia. Their lead singer, the late David McComb, subsequently went on to join The Blackeyed Susans, and co-wrote "This One Eats Souls" with Phil Kakulas for their second album, All Souls Alive. It's a song about addiction, I think—McComb, who died tragically young just before his 37th birthday, had his demons—but, with its lyrical references to parasitism and possession, it provides a kind of counterpoint to the words and images used in the Parker books in connection with fallen angels, most notably the repository of souls known as Brightwell.

Further listening: Wide Open Road—The Best of the Triffids


7. Múm, "Green Grass of Tunnel"
Written by Tynes, Gunnar Oern/Valtysdottir, Kristin Anna/Valtysdottir, Gyda, Smarason, Oervar Thoreyjarson
Publisher: Lyrics (P)©Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
ISRC: GB-DCA-01-00149
Fatcat Records 2002

"And when I'm swimming/In through a tunnel, I shut my eyes."

To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what this song is about, but I don't think it really matters. There's something in its combination of almost music-box notes, gentle percussion, and childlike vocals that conjures up a sense of being caught in a state somewhere between sleeping and waking, a kind of conscious dreaming. It's quite lovely.

Further listening: Yesterday Was Dramatic—Today is OK


8. Envoy, "Every Dead Thing"
Written, performed, mixed and produced by David O'Brien/Envoy Used by kind permission of David O'Brien

Envoy is the brainchild of one David O'Brien, a bookseller at Waterstones in Drogheda, Ireland, and a consistently generous supporter of my work. Over the years he has created a virtual soundtrack to the Parker novels, a project that I find both immensely flattering, and slightly terrifying in the degree of work involved for David. "Every Dead Thing" drew me in immediately, and it can stand proudly alongside the other pieces here.

Further listening: https://soundcloud.com/envoy-2/sets/every-dead-thing


9. Candidate, "Circle of Ash"
(from the album Nuada)
Written by Morris/Morris/Painter/White
Label: A Galaxian Champ recording
Licensed to Snowstorm Recordings
Released: 2002
(P) and ©Candidate 2002
Used by permission

Candidate's 2002 album Nuada is a concept work inspired by the cult British horror film The Wicker Man, in which a Christian policeman travels to a remote Hebridean island in search of a missing girl and finds himself drawn into a world of pagan rituals and human sacrifice. Given that The Wolf in Winter explores similar territory, it seemed apt to include something from what is, for me, Candidate's best work, and I'm particularly fond of the eerie "Circle of Ash." Further listening: Tiger Flies, Under the Skylon

10. Kristin Hersh, "Your Ghost"
(from the album Hips and Makers [CAD 4002])
Written by Kristin Hersh
Label: 4AD Ltd
Released: 1994
Published by Yes Dear Music BMI
ISRC No. GB-AFL-94-00002
Licensed courtesy of 4AD Limited

"Push your old numbers/ and let your house ring/ til I wake your ghost..."

A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to interview Kristin Hersh at Waterstones bookshop in Dublin upon the release of her memoir Paradoxical Undressing, or Rat Girl as it's called in the U.S. I'd long admired both her work with Throwing Muses and her solo albums, and the book was fascinating. (What I found particularly interesting was her discussion of synaesthesia, the capacity of certain musicians, herself included, to see music as colours.) She was also a pleasure to talk with, and was generous with her time to the fans who came along that night. "Your Ghost," featuring backing vocals by Michael Stipe of R.E.M., is a song that I've wanted to include on one of these compilations for quite some time, and meeting Kristin Hersh gave me the point of contact that I needed.

Further listening: Strange Angels, Murder, Misery and Then Goodnight, Purgatory/ Paradise (by Throwing Muses)


11. (Smog), "I Could Drive Forever"
(from the album DC161 Knock Knock)
Written by Bill Callahan
Administered by Drag City

"Too many lines have been broken/ Too many people have crumbled apart/ In my hands"

I picked up my first (Smog) album, Red Apple Falls, in Freebird Records in Dublin, and have been a fan of Bill Callahan's ever since. His work has grown more lush over the years (not to its detriment, I should add), particularly since leaving the (Smog) moniker behind in favor of recording under his own name. While Knock Knock marked a significant step on that path of elaboration, it's the sparseness of "I Could Drive Forever" that I love, and the tension in the song between its declaration of liberation ("I feel light and strong/I could drive forever") and an underlying sense of desperation and disappointment, that these are the words of a man fleeing . . .


12. Icehouse, "Love Like Blood"
(from the album The Berlin Tapes)
Written by Jeremy Coleman, Paul Ferguson, Paul Vincent Raven and Kevin Walker
Label: Diva Records
Released: 1995
Published by Universal Music Publishing Group
Used with permission from Diva Records

"Till the fearless come and the act is done..."

One of my favourite singles from the 1980s is "Hey Little Girl" by Icehouse, and I play the band's music regularly on my radio show. I came across this cover of Killing Joke's "Love Like Blood" on Icehouse's Heroes album from 2004, although it was originally recorded almost a decade earlier as part of the collaboration between Iva Davies, Icehouse's lynchpin, and classical composer Max Lambert for a ballet by the Sydney Dance Company, subsequently released as Berlin. I love Killing Joke's original version, but the string arrangement here adds a different kind of urgency to the song.

Further listening: Primitive Man, Sidewalk, Heroes


13. Giovanna Pessi, Susanna Wallumrød, Jane Achtman & Marco Ambrosini, "Who By Fire"
(from the album If Grief Could Wait)
Written by Leonard Cohen
Performed by Susanna Wallumrød, voice
Giovanna Pessi, Baroque harp
Jane Achtman, viola da gamba
Marco Ambrosini, nyckelharpa
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Label: ECM Records
Released 2010
©ECM Records

"Who by high ordeal, who by common trial..."

The second song on this CD to feature the distinctive vocals of Susanna Wallumrod, this time in the service of Leonard Cohen's "Who by Fire." I think that what is common to the cover versions included on this compilation is the way in which each succeeds not so much in reinventing the original (because that would suggest that the song in question somehow needs reinvention, which can never be true of great music) as in enabling the listener to experience the piece in a new way, to hear some previously unsuspected facet of it revealed. Here Cohen's reworking of "Unetanneh Tokef," a Jewish liturgical poem that may date back to the 11th century, is placed in a baroque setting for harp, nyckelharpa, and viola da gamba. It may be one of the loveliest Cohen covers yet recorded.

Further listening: Liquid Perle


14. Davide Rossi, "It's Getting Late in the Evening"
(from the album Spirit of Talk Talk)
Written by Mark David Hollis, Timothy Alan Friese-Greene
Produced by Fierce Panda
Released: 2012
(P) and ©Davide Rossi, Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick
Used by permission

"The tide shall turn to shelter us from storm/ The seas of charity shall overflow and bathe us all..."

In 2012 I was asked to contribute to a project entitled Spirit of Talk Talk, a book and CD celebrating the work of the extraordinary British band Talk Talk and of James Marsh, the artist responsible not only for their album covers but for creating a visual analogy to their gorgeous and increasingly experimental music. "It's Getting Late in the Evening," bumped from their album The Colour of Spring and eventually relegated to the b-side of one of their singles, constitutes, for me, Talk Talk's finest six minutes. I approached this cover version warily as a consequence, but I now feel that it actually exceeds the original in beauty, and is heart-stoppingly moving. It's referenced in The Wolf in Winter when Parker talks on the phone to his ex-girlfriend Rachel and their daughter, Sam.

Further listening: The Colour of Spring, Spirit of Eden


15. Mogwai, "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead"
(from the album The Hawk is Howling)
Label: Wall of Sound
Released: 2008
Publisher: Chrysalis Music Ltd., Chrysalis Music
ISRC: GB-ENL-08-00090

No lyrics here, as it's another purely instrumental piece. Mogwai's fame increased in 2012 when they provided the soundtrack to Les Revenants (The Returned), an unsettling French drama about the dead revisiting a small French town. The roots of that album probably lie both in their 2006 soundtrack to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and 2008's The Hawk is Howling, the first of their albums to be entirely devoid of vocals, and from which this slow-burning track is taken.

Further listening: Les Revenants, Rave Tapes