As regular readers of Writing from the Tub will know, I love a good nosy through authors’ playlists to find out what music inspired their latest book, so I’m delighted that today’s stop on the Noah Can’t Even blog tour features a look at Simon James Green’s playlist.
Ranging from 80s classics to Brandon Flowers, Imagine Dragons and more, you’ll need your headphones at the ready for this one. Without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Simon James Green.
Music That Inspired Noah Can’t Even
Music plays a big part in helping me write – and it also features quite a lot in the final book. Noah’s gran is a huge fan of big 80’s tunes, and whenever he goes round to visit her, she’s usually listening to something fabulous from that era. On his first visit in the book she’s listening to The Final Countdown by Europe. It’s a great song, but I chose it because the lyrics and feel have a sense of anticipation, of something about to happen. There’s also a totally kick-ass electric guitar solo in the middle of it, which I imagine Gran playing air guitar to in her bedroom.
Later, we have Gran listening to Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, which at that point in the book, if you’ve read it, you’ll know is a bit of an in-joke, because Noah certainly is ‘living on a prayer’ – or he would be if he wasn’t an atheist! The next track , Madonna’s Like a Virgin is a classic 80’s tune, but also a little comment on Noah’s (lack of) sexual success. I also threw in We Built this City on Rock and Roll by Starship, just because I bloody love it. That the nice thing about writing a book – sometimes you can just put in your favorite things and share them with the world!
In the final chapter Harry puts a track on his phone – Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds. I’m not going to mention any spoilers here, but it’s a suitably appropriate track for a number of reasons – and it’s an epic tuuuuuune!!
I’ve actually made a Spotify playlist of Gran’s top 80’s tracks, so you can listen to all these songs here:
Apart from being included in the book, I also use music to help me ‘get in the zone’ and write in the first place, even if I don’t mention the track in the part I’m writing. During the process of writing and editing Noah Can’t Even, there were a few tracks I would use to get me in the mood for the book:
Let’s Go by Vinyl Hearts is a fast, fun track that I pace around my kitchen to, imagining a movie trailer version of the book, that shows all the key bits. I found this helped me get in the right headspace to write. To the Top by Twin Shadow was the track I listened to when writing any of the more raw, emotional stuff between Noah and Harry. Lonely Town by Brandon Flowers nicely sums up some of Noah’s feelings about growing up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and Shots by Imagine Dragons is a great track I listened to when Noah was feeling like he was screwing everything up. Finally, On Top of the World, also by Imagine Dragons is a fun, happy tune… because there’s plenty of that in the book too, and sometimes, on a cold, dark morning, when I’m really tired, I need that sort of upbeat, bouncy track if I’ve got to write something happy. Here’s the Spotify link so you can have a listen:
Maybe it’s because of my screenwriting background, but I can always picture the screen version in my head when I’m writing. Music is such an important part of TV shows and movies – it’s almost always there, and I think that’s why I’ve got such a strong connection to so much music in Noah Can’t Even, whether it’s explicitly mentioned in the text, or not. When I’m reading the text back, I’ve always got some track or other playing in the back of my mind! Hope you enjoy listening to some of the music that inspired the book!
Noah Can’t Even is out now, published by Scholastic.
Simon James Green grew up in a small town in Lincolnshire that definitely wasn’t the inspiration for Little Fobbing – so no-one from there can be mad with him, OK?
He enjoyed a classic British education of assorted humiliations and barbaric PE lessons before reading Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he further embarrassed himself by accidentally joining the rowing team despite having no upper body strength and not being able swim. When it turned out that being a lawyer was nothing like how it looks in Suits or The Good Wife, and buoyed by the success of his late night comedy show that involved an inflatable sheep, he travelled to London to pursue a glamorous career in show business. Within weeks he was working in a call centre, had been mugged, and had racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt.
Finding strength and inspiration in the lyrics of Tubthumping by Chumbawumba, he eventually ended up working on a range of West End shows and UK tours, co-wrote a feature-length rom-com for the BBC and directed Hollyoaks for C4 / Lime Pictures. After trying really, really hard, he also managed to write Noah Can’t Even. If you are interested in stalking him, he still lives in London, where he spends a lot of time telling people that Noah Can’t Even is only partly autobiographical, and his mum has definitely never done a Beyoncé tribute act.