I’ve heard that Missing Pieces has caused the odd tear here and there, so Agora asked if I might put together a playlist of sad songs for readers to listen to after they’ve read it (you know, to really get all those emotions out). I had a think. I asked people on Twitter. I talked to my husband until 1am when it was too hot to sleep. I wanted to choose songs that reflected the themes of the novel. And here’s what I’ve come up with.
Fire and Rain – James Taylor
I remember hearing this song for the first time, when I was about fourteen. My friend couldn’t believe I didn’t know it. And then she played it to me and I couldn’t either. I’m on the floor from the opening bars, and the sense of loss is palpable.
The line that kills me: ‘I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, But I always thought that I’d see you again’
Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor
It certainly wasn’t conscious, but on listening to this song in preparation for writing this, I realised that my decision to start each chapter with the number of days since Phoebe’s death might have been inspired by this song.
The line that kills me: ‘It’s been so lonely without you here, Like a bird without a song’
Brick – Ben Folds Five
This song, about a young couple’s abortion, seemed to always be playing in the common room when I was doing my A Levels. Just hearing the intro gives me goosebumps. It’s a great portrayal of what can happen to a relationship as a result of a loss.
The line that kills me: ‘Now that I have found someone, I’m feeling more alone, Than I ever have before’
Fix You – Coldplay
To me, this song sums up Tom’s attitude to Linda in the book. He can see that she’s not coping with her grief and he would do whatever it takes to help her, but he just doesn’t know what she needs (and he’s grieving, too).
The line that kills me: ‘And I will try to fix you’
In Metal – Low
My husband gets obsessed with one song at a time and plays it for weeks. This one is about wanting to protect your children and it’s a real heartbreaker (particularly when combined with a novel about a three-year-old who died).
The line that kills me: ‘Wish I could keep your little body, In metal’
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
This is one of my favourite songs of all time. It makes me think of Linda and Tom running away from their families to be together. I think it’s genius that a one-word change makes a line go from hope to heartache (at the start: ‘We’ve got to make a decision, Leave tonight or live and die this way’ and at the end: ‘You’ve got to make a decision, Leave tonight or live and die this way’)
The line that kills me: ‘I always hoped for better, That maybe together you and me would find it’
The River – Bruce Springsteen
Everyone in my family is a Bruce Springsteen fan, so I grew up listening to him. There’s something so haunting in his lyrics about ordinary people and their tragedies, which is sort of what I tried to replicate with the novel.
The line that kills me: ‘Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, Or is it something worse?’
Distant Sky – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
This is the only song on the list I didn’t know before writing this. I was going to include Tears in Heaven, but I think this is a more powerful song about the loss of a child.
The line that kills me: ‘They told us our gods would outlive us, But they lied’
I Dreamed a Dream (from Les Misérables)
This song makes me think of Linda, who thought her life would be one thing and whose life became something she couldn’t bear.
The line that kills me: ‘But there are dreams that cannot be, And there are storms we cannot weather’
Jolene – Ray LaMontagne
I love the roughness of LaMontagne’s voice coupled with the tenderness of the lyrics. It’s about a relationship, but the feeling of loss is universal.
The line that kills me: ‘Held you in my arms one time, Lost you just the same’
This Woman’s Work – Kate Bush
This song is about childbirth, I believe, but I think the lines I’ve picked out could be attributed to any of the central characters in Missing Pieces. So much regret and lost time and sadness.
The line that kills me: ‘All the things we should’ve said that we never said, And all the things we should’ve done that we never did’
Darling – Douglas Dare
My husband said he’d divorce me if I didn’t include this song. He was listening to it when he read Esme’s letter about Phoebe’s death. It’s incredibly powerful and disarming.
The line that kills me: ‘You will always live on, You will always look young’
Listen to the playlist on Spotify below:
Endless thanks to Laura for curating this playlist – we haven’t stopped crying since we first listened to it, so now it’s your turn to have a good sob.