When I write, I usually bounce between Pandora stations and my iTunes library. Some days I get obsessed with a specific song and play it on repeat until I never want to hear it again. Other days I let the algorithms decide what I need to hear.
But writing The Goodbyes was different. Since Webb was a musician, I was afraid to let other artist’s lyrics sneak into my prose. I needed the musical equivalent to white noise. So, many of the chapters were written to the soundtrack of Tibetan monks chanting and movie scores.
Instead of sharing the music that inspired me while I was actually writing, I made a playlist of the songs that inspired the characters in the book.
The Goodbyes Playlist
“Drive” by Incubus “Somebody Told Me” – The Killers “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – Green Day “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Journey “Hey Ya” – OutKast “Scar Tissue” – Red Hot Chili Peppers “Fix You” – Coldplay “Open Your Eyes” – Snow Patrol
“Drive” is one of those songs that still inspires me today. The themes of taking control of your destiny, being present, and letting go of fear are important to Webb’s journey as an individual and a musician.
While The Killers didn’t achieve worldwide acclaim until the following summer, I remember getting a bootleg copy of their demo back in 2002 from a friend in Vegas. I decided to give this gift to Bree. “Somebody Told Me” is a more relevant song for Bree and Webb (even though it wasn’t recorded when she mentions The Killers).
Bree also loves Green Day. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” plays at the dance, but “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is a more appropriate song for Bree’s downward spiral.
“Don’t Stop Believin'” is a timeless anthem for dreamers. I did a cover version of this song with my first band back in 1997. While we didn’t make it as far as TempFive, it’s a little nod to those early days of coming up with enough songs for a set.
The tempo of “Hey Ya” encapsulates the hectic and thrilling rise to fame. The lyrics also hint at how Webb feels about Merilee.
At their first band practice, Webb, Chris, and Brent play along to Californication. I imagine Webb thinking about Bree when “Scar Tissue” comes on.
I can’t say much about the last two songs without spoilers… Webb’s drive from D.C. to Pennsylvania with “Fix You” and “Open Your Eyes” for the final chapter.