Wivenhoe Park Soundtrack

Music plays an instrumental role in my novel Wivenhoe Park. Paul Rayson of Muso’s Guide writes, “It’s a celebration of Psychocandy and all else great about the scene, with details from Sister Ray Records to Spacemen 3. It has style notes that reveal the time and the people, from the cheesy GQ fashions of 1980s mainstream Italians to the tired spiky-haired punk costumes of a disenfranchised English subculture. Wivenhoe Park is the most loving kind of novel about growing up, and in the best setting: a revolution of musical experimentation against 1980s drabness.”

This revolution against ’80s drabness — Michael Jackson, Miami Vice, Live Aid etc. — is perfectly captured in my wife Arabella’s book trailer:

The Jesus and Mary Chain are our protagonist Drew’s favorite band. They are mentioned throughout the novel, including a discussion with some new wave kids from Iowa at the airport on his way to England; a JAMC concert scene at Norwich University where he bonds with a girl; watching the “Just Like Honey” video on television with some Italian friends while on holiday in Rome.

Another band that plays a key role in Wivenhoe Park is the young Primal Scream. The singer Bobby Gillespie is someone that Drew looks up to as the epitome of cool when he first encounters the group in a London club and hears a new song called “Velocity Girl.” He later hears the song again in a girl’s room when she plays him the now legendary C86 cassette.

Older music is also essential to Wivenhoe Park. In the first chapter, which takes place the year before the other events, Drew is at a party sporting a Psychedelic Furs T-shirt. His favorite bands at this point in his life are the aforementioned, along with the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Sisters of Mercy,and the Cure. The dark and moody stuff. Later in the book, Drew and his best friend Johnny hear a DJ play “The Killing Moon” at goth club in Florence, Italy. Here’s a cool live version!

Another old song that soothes Drew’s soul is “We Could Send Letters” by Aztec Camera. The song is about a long distance relationship on the fritz and one that Drew thinks about a lot when he is reminded of his first love Christine, who is back home in Michigan.

At one point we learn that the gateway to Drew’s love of ‘alternative’ music stems from an older friend, Richie, who was once a semi-famous rock star in the seventies and is now a neighbor of his parents in suburban Michigan. Richie introduces Drew to all the cool Detroit legends like the Stooges and MC5. If you read the novel, you should be able to figure out who the real life Richie is. One of his songs ended up getting covered by Motley Crue in the late ’80s!

This is just a small sampling of the music mentioned in Wivenhoe Park. I have added over three hours worth of music mentioned in the novel in a newly-created Spotify playlist. Note: there a few bands mentioned in the novel such as Meat Whiplash and Aztec Camera who are not on Spotify but this playlist is pretty complete and mostly in the order that the songs are mentioned in the book.


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