The Official IF YOU WERE HERE soundtrack

By Alafair Burke

Happy Pub Day to Me, Happy Pub Day to Me….Sung to the tune of Happy Birthday, of course. But for pub day, I wanted to talk about nine other songs that comprise the official playlist for IF YOU WERE HERE.

The A side of the album (yes, I still think in vinyl) give you five songs that form the title of the novel and four of its parts. All of these songs, to me, capture the mood of the novel. They also each have lyrics that connect to the story.

Thompson Twins – If You Were Here: The title of the novel. As McKenna Jordan searches for her missing friend Susan Hauptmann, she thinks about the decisions they both made ten years ago and how they affect the present. “If You Were Here” reflects a question McKenna repeatedly finds herself asking: What if life had unfolded differently for both of them? I was on the fence about the title because it had previously been used by the wonderful Jen Lancaster, but when the song came on the radio as I was pulling out of my garage, I decided it was a sign.
Tears For Fears – Mad World: “All around me are familiar faces.” Literally, this is a reference to the early chapters of the novel, when McKenna believes she recognizes Susan’s familiar face. But the song goes on to say that the person watching those familiar faces feels like an outsider. This is a song for Susan.
Tori Amos – Northern Lad: “Girls you’ve got to know when it’s time to turn the page, when you’re only wet because of the rain.” This is a song about moving on and putting the past behind.
Kate Bush – Head’s Were Dancing: “There was a picture of you, A picture of you ‘cross the front page, It looked just like you, just like you in every way. But it couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be true. You stepped out of a stranger.” McKenna doesn’t know whom she can trust.
Feist – Past In Present: “So much present inside my present, Inside my present so…so much past.” McKenna’s present search for Susan pulls her into the past, and the past has determined her present.

The B side are fun songs referenced along the way.

RUN-DMC – It’s Like That: In the opening chapter, Nicky Cervantes runs through the Times Square subway station and passes a group of break dancers performing to Run DMC. Though naming the specific song would have been too intrusive, this is the song!
P!nk – Get The Party Started: When McKenna writes a book chapter about the first time she met her husband Patrick through their mutual friend Susan, she says it was the year everyone was getting the party started with Pink. I remember how ubiquitous this song was when I first moved to New York. It was the kind of song that made me feel young and fun and reckless.
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Gin And Juice
The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s DelightThese are Susan’s go-to hip-hop songs when she’s more than a little tipsy. They’re also just great songs.

Here’s a Spotify link to the full soundtrack. Hope you enjoy the playlist, and I really hope you enjoy IF YOU WERE HERE.

Via: Alafair Burke


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