We wouldn't be Split Lip if we weren't thinking about the intersection of the music world and the written word, so we asked our print contributors: If your poem, story, or essay (characters or the piece itself) had a personal anthem/theme song, what would it be?
My poem in this issue was written with the theme from The X Files looping in my head, but since I reference it, that seems like a copout. If I had to pick another song, it would probably be "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. 1993 was a banner year for being lost and terrified.
I don't know if "Archaeopterix" itself has an anthem, but a song that I was listening to tons while I was writing and editing it was "Kalaam (S/He)" by Mashrou' Leila. The poem is kind of about me thinking through how to be in loving relationships with my body and other people's across and around borders of gender and nationhood and ... well ... that song is basically a dissertation on that subject. Honestly the whole album it's on, Ibn El Leil, is a tour de force of gay arab sadness.
This morning my truest-heart texted, I want to be a harpy. And I said, yes me too--and went into detail about what I also wanted if we were to remake ourselves into our own knives. So I think the theme song to this piece would be similar, a Frankenstein-ian gardening of a few hot sounds, imagine if you stitched a Siva Samoan song + some empty but repetitive pop + the one time you cried in public without meaning to + some animal noises, maybe a cramp. Maybe it's better to visualize this--take all the following songs and put them into a kaleidoscope & twist, after you've eaten until full? Annie Grace's "Tears of Joy," something by Aqua, Stan Walker's "New Takeover," 2NE1's "I Am the Best," that video of a stoat hunting a rabbit, the wind, some drums--that way you can almost see a drum's sound. It's difficult to pin down one sound, since the larger work that this piece is excerpted from is so multi-voiced. I swear I'm not trying to be a jerk with this answer--I just hear a lot of sounds when you ask me what its sound would be.
I’d go with something ambient and a little surreal, like Boards of Canada (“An Eagle In Your Mind”).
Krys Malcolm Belc
This micro essay is the first in a long series of short pieces I wrote about my birth certificate and childhood. When I started the project I was listening nonstop to Wye Oak's song "Civilian" and I think the works from that period are sort of imbued with this sense of impending doom that the song makes me feel. It has these explicit references to childhood artifacts, in the speaker's case baby teeth, that resonated with me.
The theme song of “& Clyde” is (obviously) “Bonnie and Clyde” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot—a line from the lyrics appears in the poem. The soundtrack for “In Which Kylie Jenner Keeps a Secret” is probably just ominous ambient sounds. And I don’t know if I’d say it’s the theme song, but I listened exclusively to “Slug” by Snail Mail on loop the entire time I was writing and revising “Why I Waited to Report.”
Since my work plays around with jumping into different times in my life, I have two theme songs. If, while reading the essay, you feel a sense of understanding what home becomes as we get older, then "Home" by Blue October would be an excellent choice to plug in after reading. If, however, you feel a different interpretation and need something to help understand the layers, "Home" by Gustavo Santaolalla would fit perfectly. There are many more great songs, but these two help me reminisce and get into my thoughts about my childhood.
Boy that's a hard question for this poem. Perhaps I can answer this way: the speaker of this poem, more than anything, even a Little Debbie Spinwheel, wants to wake. To be at ease. In the poem, there is a desperation to revise these moments of horror into moments of ease. One of the songs that has brought me the most ease over the past few months is Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." And The Tallest Man on Earth's cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." I supposed it's not as much of a theme or anthem as much as it is a refuge. A kind of absolution for the nightmare.
Once I saw a band that did thrash versions of Neil Diamond songs. The lead singer was also a cellist, and he frequently did front flips off the stage while playing his instrument. If my poetry had a musical backing, that'd be it.
Valorie K. Ruiz
If my poem had a theme song it would likely be "Black-Dove" by Tori Amos. This poem was an exploration for me of my own ideas of home, of making a home for oneself, of being disappointed by the home that is the body, and I think "Black-Dove" kind of encapsulates a lot of that in a way that is very visceral.
There are a lot of songs I could choose for this; I'm someone who listens to music as I write, so music inevitably informs the tone or atmosphere of each piece in the drafting process. (I wrote this essay over a year ago, so, I can't say for certain what music directly inspired it.) Still, I'll choose two anthems: "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order, which I will never stop listening to, and Frog Eyes' "Two Girls (One For Heaven and the Other One for Rome)". (There's a great live version of "Two Girls" on Paper Bag Records's Youtube channel, featuring Carey Mercer with some backup claps, if you're curious about it.)
I like to think of Joy Williams listening to a playlist that includes but is not limited to Harry Nillson's "Everybody's Talking," Joni Mitchell's "All I Want," Pavement's "Summer Babe," and No Name's "Self." But I realize I'm making a lot of assumptions.
I've waited my whole life to be asked this question, and I will now proceed to botch it. Can I pick two songs, to spread over the four short pieces? "The Righteous Path" by the Drive-By Truckers, and "Them Changes" by Thundercat. (The obvious choice would be "This Fucking Job" by the DBTs, but what literary audience wants the obvious choice?)