Hi guys! Today I’m happy to welcome J Paul Henderson, author of Last Bus to Coffeeville to the blog. Since summer is well under way and this is the time when most of us leave on holiday (or counting down the days like me), I wanted to bring you a blog topic fit for the occasion. And since my iPod and I are inseparable whenever I’m travelling, I thought I’d ask Paul to tell us about what kind of music he listens to when he’s on the road.
Paul’s Coffeeville Road Trip Playlist
I’ve selected 20 CDs for a long road trip, and twenty tracks I’d be happy to play over and again on a shorter journey. All our in alphabetical order by artist.
Bad Company: Bad Company; Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: Gorilla; John Cale: Music for a New Society; Captain Beefheart: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller); Captain Beefheart: Doc at the Radar Station; The Jim Carroll Band: Dry Dreams; Dandy Warhols: Come Down; The Doors: The Doors; Bob Dylan: Street Legal; Eels: Blinking Lights; Grateful Dead: Terrapin Station; Gruppo Sportivo: 10 Mistakes; Leo Kottke: Mudlark; Matching Mole: Matching Mole; Turbines: Last Dance Before Highway; Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes; Tom Waits: Asylum Years; Neil Young: Decade; Frank Zappa: Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch; and Warren Zevon: Transverse City.
(click on the tracks to listen to them)
1. AC / DC: It’s a Long Way to the Top. One of the best rock songs ever recorded, though still not sure about the bagpipes. I feature this song in my next book: The Last of the Bowmans.
2. Bad Company: Can’t Get Enough. Bad Company was the first album I bought when I moved to Mississippi. Every time I hear this track I’m reminded of living in the Colonial Arms Apartments in Starkville, MS.
3. Beatles: Hey Jude. My favourite Beatles track; unfortunately, it’s written by Paul McCartney.
4. Captain Beefheart: Pachuco Cadaver. Trout Mask Replica was the most difficult album I’d ever listened to: it took me three weeks just to differentiate the tracks. Once I had, though, I listened to the album for a solid year, and exclusively! (This is one of the songs Arnold Skidmore has played at his funeral).
5. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: I Left My Heart in San Francisco. I laugh every time I hear this. It’s a send up of yesteryear’s nightclub crooners.
6. The Jim Carroll Band: People Who Died. Jim Carroll was a New York writer, poet and musician. He performed this track live on The Old Grey Whistle Test – and looked shaky even then.
7. Cream: White Room. No real story to this; just a song I like.
8. Dandy Warhols: Sixteen Minutes. Excellent driving music: repetitive and hypnotic. Unsurprisingly, it’s sixteen minutes long.
9. The Doors: The End. Hauntingly beautiful. Easy to get lost in.
10. Bob Dylan: Thunder on the Mountain. If I danced, this is the song I’d dance to.
11. Eels: The Stars Shine in the Sky Tonight. I admire Eels (Mark Oliver Everett). I have most of his music and also his autobiography. I listened to this song while I was writing the dénouement of Coffeeville.
12. Grateful Dead: Touch of Grey. Atypical of GD music; more like a punchy pop song.
13. The Kingsmen: Louie Louie. I’d been aware of this song for some time, but only bought it after watching Animal House when I was visiting some friends at MSU. Good American frat party music at its best.
14. Matching Mole: O Caroline. MM was formed by Robert Wyatt after he left Soft Machine. Completely uncharacteristic of their music, this is a simple and heartfelt love song. It reminds me of a girl I once dated in Mississippi, whose name wasn’t Caroline.
15. The Smiths: What Difference does it Make. Again, a song that makes me wish I danced.
16. Steely Dan: Midnite Cruiser. Neatly rhymes with Gentleman Loser. I’m attracted to minor key songs and this is one of the best.
17. Violent Femmes: Good Feeling. I was stuck in a hotel in Aberdeen when Channel 4 profiled this trio. It was like breathing fresh air again. This song is from their first album.
18. Tom Waits: Martha. I first heard this song in the late seventies, but it touched and stayed with me. It was the inspiration for Nancy’s phone call to Doc after a silence of 45 years.
19. Frank Zappa: San Ber’dino. I was hooked on this song as soon as I heard the opening two lines: She lives in Mojave in a Winnebago / His name is Bobby, he looks like a potato. Inspired!
20. Warren Zevon: The Heartache. This is another artist I’ve collected over the years. Hard to choose just one of his songs, but I decided on this because it’s the second piece of music that Arnold Skidmore chooses for his funeral.
About the book
Nancy Skidmore has Alzheimer’s and her oldest friend Eugene Chaney III once more a purpose in life – to end hers.
When the moment for Gene to take Nancy to her desired death in Coffeeville arrives, she is unexpectedly admitted to the secure unit of a nursing home and he has to call upon his two remaining friends to help break her out: one his godson, a disgraced weatherman in the throes of a midlife crisis, and the other an ex-army marksman officially dead for forty years.
On a tour bus once stolen from Paul McCartney, and joined by a young orphan boy searching for lost family, the band of misfits career towards Mississippi through a landscape of war, euthanasia, communism, religion and racism, and along the way discover the true meaning of love, family and – most important of all – friendship.
Charming, uplifting and profoundly moving, Last Bus to Coffeeville is a chronicle of lives that have jumped the tracks; a tale of endings and new beginnings; a funny story about sad things.