It was also December last year when I read Eleanor & Park. It is a young adult novel written by Rainbow Rowell about first love amidst life’s difficulties. One of the reasons why I like this book is because of the songs and artists mentioned here. Music has been a great part in Eleanor & Park’s relationship. So far, this contains the most songs and artists references from all the books that I have read. Since the time setting of this book is 1986, I wasn’t familiar with most of the songs so when I encountered new songs and artists, I listed them and looked for them in YouTube. Then after reading the book, I made my own playlist. Here are the twenty songs that I listened for days (or weeks) after I read the book.
1. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths
Rainbow Rowell said that if this book will be adapted into a movie, this would be the song in the trailer.
…Park made a tape with all his favorite Smith songs…
2. Love on a Farmboy’s Wages by XTC
XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.
3. How Soon Is Now by The Smiths
He pointed at her book, where she’d written How Soon Is Now? in tall green letters.
She ran her fingers over the embarrassing song titles – “This Charming Man” and “How Soon Is Now?” – on her math book.
She picked up the cassette. He’d written HOW SOON IS NOW AND MORE on the thin white sticker.
She could still hear that voice in her head – not his – the singer’s. From the Smiths. You could hear his accent, even when he was singing. He sounded like he was crying out.
I am the sun …
And the air …
4. Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division
“No. It was awesome. I didn’t want to stop listening. That one song – is it ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’?”
“Yeah, Joy Division.”
“Oh my God, that’s the best beginning to a song ever.”
He imitated the guitar and the drums.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she said. “I just wanted to listen to those three seconds over and over.”
“Plus,” she said, “I love the rest of it just as much, like the high part, the melody, the dahhh, dah-de-dah-dah, de-dahh, de dahh.”
“And his voice at the end,” she said, “when he goes just a little bit too high … And then the very end, where it sounds like the drums are fighting it, like they don’t want the song to be over…”
Park made drum noises with his mouth: “Ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch.”
“I just want to break that song into pieces,” she said, “and love them all to death.”
5. Out of Control by U2
Park was wearing a U2 shirt today with a picture of a little boy on the chest.
6. 867-5309 by Tommy Tutone
He started singing his number to the tune of “867-5309,” which cracked her right up.
“You remember my phone number right?”
“Seriously, Park. I’m never going to forget your phone number.”
7. Two of Us by The Beatles
“God, I know…. Hey, I can’t think of any 2 songs.”
“’Two of Us,’” she said.
“Two of us?”
“It’s a Beatles song.”
“Oh … that’s why I don’t know it.” He wrote it down.
8. Bad by U2
“Is that U2?” he asked. He could hear “Bad” in the background.
“Yeah, I think it’s my favorite song right now. I keep rewinding it, and playing it over and over again…”
“What’s your favorite part?”
“Of the song?”
“All of it,” she said, “especially the chorus – I mean, I guess it’s the chorus.”
“I’m wide awake,” he half sang.
“Yeah…” she said softly.
He kept singing then. Because he wasn’t sure what to say next.
9. Drowning Man by U2
What did Eleanor think about the U2 album? She loved it.
10. Alison by Elvis Costello
Park pushed Play.
“What’s this song called?” she asked.
11. The Morning of Our Lives by Jonathan Richman
Park played Elvis Costello for her – and Joe Jackson, and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.
12. Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure
She couldn’t repay him. She couldn’t even appropriately thank him. How can you thank someone for the Cure? Or the X-Men?
13. I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner
“Because it’s prom,” he said.
“And it’s lame,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“Because the theme is ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’”
“That’s not such a bad song,” he said.
“Are you drunk? It’s Foreigner.”
14. The Same Deep Water As You by The Cure
“But if you let “Same Deep Water as You” into your head, it will lull you into an achy haze. Which is exactly right for Eleanor and Park, in his dad’s truck, both scared to say everything they want to.”
15. Kiss of Life by Friendly Fires
“When I was writing this book , I wanted to capture how it feels to love someone. You love them with your head. And then you love them with everything else. When they’re with you, you vibrate. When they’re gone, you ache.
This song does both.”
– Rainbow Rowell
16. Swithin’s Day by Billy Bragg
“Anyway, in their last few scenes together, Eleanor begs Park for understanding — but she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t give enough to get it.
The album version of “St. Swithin’s Day” is more wistful, less angry, and I kept listening to it because it’s about the aftermath of a terrible good-bye.”
– Rainbow Rowell
17. Once I Was by Tim Buckley
“This song is Park’s song, on the way back to Omaha. He wants to be everything for Eleanor. But everything he’s tried to be has already been.”
– Rainbow Rowell
18. Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell
“And now we arrive at the best love song ever written.
Park, waiting in Omaha for a letter. For a phone call. For something.”
– Rainbow Rowell
19. I’m a Better Man by David McAlmont
“And if you’ve read the book, you know that the ending isn’t clean and neat and wholly happy. But Eleanor and Park are both transformed by their love for each other. They are saved. They are new.
What does Park get out of loving Eleanor?
– Rainbow Rowell
20. Blackbird by The Beatles
Sometimes it felt like she’d always be in his debt
And then she realized that Park didn’t know about the Beatles.
She reached into his jacket and slipped the Beatles tape into his T-shirt pocket. He caught her hand and held it to his heart.
“What’s this?” He pulled the tape out with his other hand.
“The greatest songs ever written. You’re welcome.”
I copied some of the songs here from Rainbow Rowell’s playlists to make it exactly 20. Hehe. You can visit her blog for her complete Eleanor & Park Playlist.
Love books and music? What About Movies?
21. Helter Skelter by The Beatles
I missed this song before but found it later when I was checking the pages of the book for Beatles songs.
They talked about the White Album on the way to school, but just as an excuse to stare at each other’s mouths. You’d think they were lip-reading.
Maybe that’s why Park kept laughing, even when they were talking about ‘Helter Skelter’— which wasn’t the Beatles’ funniest song, even before Charles Manson got a hold of it.