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What kind of playlist person are you? That question probably seems really… pointless? “I’m the kind of person who uses them to put together a list of songs I occasionally enjoy playing in a group.” No, but really: are you a genre playlist person? Do you put “similar” albums together? Or Do you have playlists organized by single or tight groups or similar artists?

Or are you a “mood” playlist person, like me?

My Spotify playlist bar is an overlong group of playlists that are all based on different moods and generally have completely messy blends of genres and artists grouped together (one in particular has Chopin and Kanye and makes perfect sense to me).

In the past week, I’ve been immersed in my latest novel project, and I’ve been considering how to share the project here. An excerpt? A general summary? Naaaaaaah. Let’s do something new: Here are a series of songs from my writing playlist that “capture” scenes and moments from the story, organized by relevant plot order:

Main Titles by Marco Beltrami

If you haven’t seen Logan, I think it goes without saying that I strongly recommend it. It’s that rare comic book film that transcends all expectations of the limitations of the genre to tell a powerful story about heroism and the confrontation with mortality.

The Book of Resurrection starts with just what the name implies: a “legendary hero” Samuel Frost comes back to life seven years after his death. The world he returns to is sapped of fertility, the air is polluted, and society has been driven to depravity by the rulers placed over the ten remaining cities of the world by his past nemesis. His return to life is a dire affair, he’s barely able to stand from the pain and struggle that is basic existence, and takes an entire night before he can sit upright through the agony. Amid the dark ruin where he died seven years prior, he sits alone in the night and uses his magic to make himself clothes and waits until morning to start his journey.

It’s an Operating Table, and I’m the Surgeon by Christopher Drake

If you haven’t seen it, The Dark Knight Returns is a fantastic adaptation of the classic graphic novel and if you haven’t read this classic, how did you find me? TDKR is a brilliant take on a retirement aged Bruce Wayne donning the cowl again to bring order to a “different” Gotham City. This score plays over his rematch brawl with a super mutant in a mud pit in a knock down, drag out fight that he eventually wins.

In similar fashion, my hero’s seven years in the afterlife leave him slow on the trigger and his old fighting skills have gone more than a little rusty. He’s captured by the law enforcement of the first city he arrives at after his resurrection, and is thrown in a gladiatorial fight to the death against 15 other criminals and struggles through the fight, only barely emerging victorious.

Blumenkranz Kill La Kill

If you haven’t seen it, Kill La Kill is the peak of anime absurdity. Over the top fighting, ridiculous characters, a completely bonkers plotline- I have hard time determining how much of it is satire of the genre and how much of it is just the extreme end of the genre. This theme is used for the (spoiler) true villain of the series, Ragyo Kiryuin is a god complex megalomaniac hoping to play host to an alien entity that will take over earth and then use her as the vessel to continue spreading through the cosmos (it’s a little bit of theft from Final Fantasy VII‘s Sephiroth).

The ruler of the city is Lady Inqu, who came into being from the very same event that killed Samuel seven years before the story begins. She believes herself to be a goddess, divinity in the flesh, and rules over the people of her city because that grace is the duty of a goddess, the very essence of her being. She is also disgusted by everything about humanity, and is completely unmoved by anything to do with them- until Samuel Frost launches a reckless attack to try to kill her when he sees her in the pit. For the rest of the story she maintains an odd fascination with the man who, for some unknown reason, made her feel something, even if she is so detached from human emotion that she cannot identify what that feeling was.

Skyfall by Adele

This is from my favorite James Bond film, and the song is all the more perfect when you see the ultimate tragedy of it, the curtain fall that Adele is mourning and providing the ode to in this ballad as the passing of an age and icon alike.

There’s a similar tragedy befalling my hero in the first act of this saga, and it’s written out pretty plainly when he discovers that the only living person left from his past life’s adventure is his old master and teacher, Kilto. While Kilto is still alive, he’s gone mad from the failure of his pupils, and the state of the world. Unable to speak anymore, except for wailing in terror and grief when he sees his old student has come back from the dead.

Plastic Heart by Nostalghia

This is a short one, but it captures the tone and character of John Wick perfectly, so much so that when it was played in John Wick 2, I went back and watched the original because it felt like it had been in the original- it was just that perfect.

Things don’t go well in that first act for Samuel. He grossly underestimates the scope of the challenge before him to topple Lady Inqu, and beyond that Lady Inqu upends the board completely by unveiling a new invention to move the city into a new age of strength: firearms. The technology is the spark that ignites a rapid onset industrial age in the city, as well as more prevalent violence in the city and rejection of the “dogma” of the old age’s magic.

Samuel loses everything- what little he had, and is a drunk vagrant on the street working to buy his next bottle of liquor as the city and humanity marches on under Lady Inqu. It captures the ennui he wishes to drown in, the nihilism he feels and regret for ever considering coming back to earth, especially considering the eternity he sacrificed with the woman he loved to do so. The second act is about his deciding to wipe off the grime and not only decide to fight again, but to learn how to fight this new war against an establishment rather than just another warrior with a sword- isn’t that the lesson we all had to learn in some form or another when we grew up?

JohnWick

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