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Track List
  1. A Violent Yet Flammable World Au Revoir Simone

  2. Impossible Germany Wilco

  3. I Am the Wolf Mark Lanegan Band

  4. Gymnopédie 3 (Lent et Grave) Erik Satie, performed by Klára Körmendi

  5. Detective Daughter Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton

  6. Soft Wolf Tread Grant Lee Buffalo

  7. This is the Song (Good Luck) Punch Brothers

  8. Desperados Under the Eaves Warren Zevon


The Shadows CD was bound into a limited signed edition of A Song of Shadows sold by Waterstones bookstores in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and distributed at signings in Ireland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Italy and the United States.

Thank you, again, to my fellow author Kate O'Hearn, who was kind enough to take on the clearances for this compilation as a break from writing her own books. Thanks to MCPS Ireland Ltd for their assistance with mechanical rights; to all at Trend Studios in Dublin, who manufactured the CD; to Alasdair Oliver at Hodder & Stoughton for his fine design work; and, finally, to all the artists and record companies involved for allowing us to use their music.

1. Au Revoir Simone, "A Violent Yet Flammable World" 
(from the album The Bird of Music)
Licensed courtesy of Moshi Moshi / (PIAS) Cooperative
Used with permission

"I don't want to lose myself/ Tonight I sleep to dream of a place that's calling me..."

I'm very fond of Brooklyn's Au Revoir Simone, who specialize in a dreamy electronic pop that somehow manages to be icily impressive while still generating huge emotional warmth. This track dates back to 2007, and I think it was the title that first caught my attention. I found myself returning to this song repeatedly while working on A Song of Shadows, both for its mood and its lyrical resonances: the images of sea and waves, and the sense that, like Parker, the song's narrator is trapped between worlds, particularly in the lines that follow the ones quoted above: "It is always just a dream. Still I cannot forget what I have seen..."

2. Wilco, "Impossible Germany"
(from the album Sky Blue Sky)
(P) 2007 Nonesuch Records, Inc.
Produced under license from Nonesuch Records, Inc.
ISRC: USNO10750505 Used with permission

"Nothing more important than to know/ Someone's listening..."

Wilco may be one of the best bands I've ever had the good fortune to see live, and the Television-esque "Impossible Germany" has always been, for me, the standout song on Sky Blue Sky. I can recall seeing them play it at Vicar Street in Dublin some years back, and being completely swept away by the performance. Mind you, I have no idea what it's about, but I suppose that one can just read into it whatever one might wish. Still, the title alone links it to A Song of Shadows.

3. Mark Lanegan Band, "I Am the Wolf"
(from the album Phantom Radio)
Lyrics and music by Duke Garwood / Mark Lanegan
Licensed courtesy of Heavenly Recordings / (PIAS) Cooperative
Used with permission

"I am the wolf/ Without a pack/ Banished so long ago/ I've survived/ On another's kill..."

It was C´it O'Riordan, she of Pogues fame, who first pointed me in the direction of this song, for which I'm very grateful. Very occasionally, I'll encounter work in another creative area—music, art, film—that seems to echo themes or concerns touched upon in my own work. The most striking example of this came shortly after I delivered The Book of Lost Things to my publishers back in 2006, when I went to see Guillermo del Toro's film Pan's Labyrinth and realized that here was a writer-director exploring very similar territory: childhood grief, a lost mother, an unloved stepparent, a young sibling to be protected, and a fascination with fairy tales and mythology. Mark Lanegan's song, meanwhile, could almost have been written with The Wolf in Winter, the Parker novel that preceded A Song of Shadows, in mind.

4. Erik Satie (Klára Körmendi, piano), "Gymnopédie No 3 (Lent et Grave)" 
(from the album Piano Works [Selection—Körmendi])
Licensed courtesy of Naxos Rights US Inc.
Used with permission

The Gymnopédies are among my favorite pieces of piano music. I was introduced to them, oddly enough, by Woody Allen, who used Claude Debussy's orchestrated version of Gymnopédie No 1 in Another Woman(1988). Actually, Woody Allen also introduced me to my favorite poet, e.e. cummings, by using a line of his poetry—"nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands"—in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), so I owe him a lot. The images of Parker's solitary walks on Green Heron Bay in the course of A Song of Shadows could be accompanied by Gymnopédie 3.

5. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, "Detective Daughter" 
(from the album Knives Don't Have Your Back)
(P) 2005 Last Gang Records
Produced under license from Last Gang Records
Used with permission

"She'll always have a place in my mirror./ She's got no more time now she wants mine./ But I'm all out too..."

Emily Haines is probably best known as the lead singer and songwriter for the Canadian band Metric, and so far 2006's Knives Don't Have Your Back is the only full-length album she has released as ... & The Soft Skeleton. Again, this is a song caught my attention with its title, and then I probably read things into its lyrics that weren't really intended at all. Which is all part of the fun, really.

6. Grant Lee Buffalo, "Soft Wolf Tread"
(from the album Fuzzy)
(P) 1993 London Records
Produced under license from London Records
Used with permission

""The soft wolf said 'Dear Hood/ What brings you to this neck of the woods?'""

The lyrics to this song are referenced in The Wolf in Winter, where the description of the wolf notes how his "ribs shone sharply carved." But it also is a spiritual cousin to The Book of Lost Things in its strange, subversive take on the story of Red Riding Hood.

7. Punch Brothers, "This is the Song (Good Luck)"
(from the album Antifogmatic)
(P) 2010 Nonesuch Records
Produced under license from Nonesuch Records, Inc.
ISRC: USNO11000100
Used with permission

"These are tough times/ But we'll get by..."

One of the earlier CDs in this series included a song entitled "When In Rome" by Nickel Creek, the first band formed by Chris Thile, the virtuoso mandolinist who also leads Punch Brothers. I saw the latter perform live in Portland, Maine, where I think they closed their set with "This Is The Song." I remember being hugely moved by its gentle, weary optimism, and the exquisite instrumental bridge at the heart of the song. The lyric quoted above could almost be one of Charlie Parker's mottos.

8. Warren Zevon, "Desperados Under the Eaves"
(from the album Warren Zevon)
(P) 1976 Elektra Entertainment Group
Produced under license from Elektra Entertainment Group
Used with permission

"Don't the sun look angry through the trees/ Don't the trees look like crucified thieves..."

Warren Zevon connects my love of music with my love of mystery fiction. His 1980 album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School was dedicated to Ken Millar, better known as the great Californian detective novelist Ross Macdonald, creator of private detective Lew Archer, whose books were a huge influence on my own. Zevon adored Millar's work, and when Zevon appeared to be on the verge of dying through drug and alcohol abuse, it was Millar who turned up at the door of the singer's Santa Barbara home to intervene. As Zevon later told Rolling Stone, "At the lowest point in my life the doorbell rang. And there, quite literally, was Lew Archer, on a compassionate mission, come to save my life." They had met briefly only once before, at a lunch during which Zevon was too in awe of Millar to speak with him, but now the older man talked with the younger about gardening, and writing, and alcoholism. The next day, Zevon returned to his detox program. He never saw Millar again. Whenever I tell this story at events, it always surprises me how few people have read Ross Macdonald, or listened to very much of Warren Zevon's music. This is an opportunity to rectify the latter situation, at least.

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