I usually don’t listen to music when I write, and I didn’t think of the near-future world of Counteract as a place where music was much of a priority. But even so, music has influenced my writing and the themes of Counteract.
Careen and Tommy, the main characters, are teens trying to live within their world while facing an uncertain future, and so the songs are about finding love, dealing with loss, facing death, questioning beliefs, rebellion, and how life goes on even during wartime.
I found some of them after I’d written the part of the book to which they connect, while others have been with me since my own high school days.
During my classroom visit at Lakota West High School, one of the students suggested I put the Counteract Playlist on Spotify so people could listen to is. Here goes:
If you like these songs, please buy them and support music and the artists who create it!
1. Breakdown by Seether The first time I heard it, the opening bars gave me chills. This song is for Tommy, and it works on so many levels—from “break me down if it makes you feel right” to “I’m so much more than meets the eye.”
2. I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie For Careen, who confronts her fears.
3. Fix You by Coldplay “If you never try you’ll never know just what you’re worth.”
4. Freewill by Rush Rush is my favorite band. Back in the 90s one of my friends laughed when I called Rush “thinking man’s heavy metal”, but their lyrics–drawn largely from literature and philosophy–have influenced and inspired me. Not everyone enjoys the liberties we take for granted. We can’t allow them to be threatened.
5. A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie “Do you notice anything different? I’m having trouble with color this morning.”
6. Closer to the Heart by Rush We all have to work together to make the world what it should be. We all have something to contribute to society.
7. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds by Elton John Goes without saying, doesn’t it?
8. Atom Tan by The Clash In an apocalyptic world, death and horror become the entertainment.
9. The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin Chase chose this one because it embodies the classic, epic struggle between good and evil. And because it’s Led Zeppelin.
10. When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin Ditto.
11. Message in a Bottle by The Police Tommy and Careen crave human contact, but they’re not sure how to connect. “Seems I’m not alone at being alone.”
12. Outlawed Raparee by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem This Irish folk song captures the spirit of the fight against tyranny.
13. Armagideon Time by The Clash No one will guide you through the chaos. But if you’re lucky, maybe there will be someone there you can count on.
14. Life During Wartime by The Talking Heads This song has elements of disconnect that make it interesting and relevant to Counteract. Even in the singer’s attraction to his cohort “You make me shiver, I feel so tender. We make a pretty good team,” he’s unable to express himself in a romantic way
15. On the Turning Away by Pink Floyd “Don’t accept that what’s happening is just a case of others suffering…” We all need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around us and speak out against injustice and things that are wrong.