I've always loved music. As a University student I had my own radio show (on the campus station at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada) and I dj'd at clubs as well. I played piano and flute as a child but didn't take steps to pursue those avenues. Wish I had! My son plays guitars and drums and has played on stage. I guess he is the edition of me that I somehow wish I was!
When I started writing the Drifters books I knew that Jessie's songs were special, that they were more than just ballads and upbeat pop tunes. To me, her songs have deep messages and many layers. She credits her gift of music to her father, whom she tragically lost the day she turned twelve. Her father taught her to play guitar, so after losing him she turned to music for healing and, as Josh accuses her at one point in the third book, it's something she also tends to hide behind.
All along I've known what Jessie's 'music' voice sounds like, but it wasn't until a serendipitous find online led me to Eva Cassidy that it hit me how clearly her style and voice reflected what I've been hearing in my head. Eva just fit as Jessie's voice.
Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong also inspired me. She is a Vancouver singer-songwriter, however it's important to note that she herself was not an inspiration for Jessie as a character. Eva would be a better fit for Jessie, I think. Her pain is clearly heard in her music, as is Jessie's.
Be aware that there may be some spoilers here...
A Song For Josh
I Believe In You - Amanda Marshall
'Somewhere there's a Drifter trying to find his way...'
This is another of those crazy serendipitous moments re: the Drifters books. While working on the music playlist for the books, I was thinking about book one, A Song For Josh, and I was adding this song - the one that inspired 'Josh's Song.' So of course I had to listen to it.
My heart is still on the floor. I did not know that line - word - Drifter - was in the song. You can't tell me there isn't a higher power helping me along this amazing journey.
P.S. I won a trip to the Junos years ago and saw Amanda Marshall sing this song LIVE. At the end, I swear she was telling me to believe in myself - I think that's half the battle in this crazy world. She pointed across the audience and her finger landed on ME. And that was when I was just beginning to write screenplays and work in film.
Some Nights – FUN
This song inspired the Civil War piece Jessie does on stage at the Orpheum near the beginning of the book. In my own adaptation, I can easily picture the dance number Jessie and her team perform to this song! Many drives in my Mazda Tribute (aka Tribby) have found me off in my own world choreographing this number. So if you're behind me at a red light in town, I apologize now for not moving - I'm off somewhere choreographing Jessie's on-stage numbers. (Um, or her love scenes)
I admit I am fascinated by the War Between the States – I was once a museum curator (still do contracts now and again) and there is something about this particular conflict that I find compelling. It comes up many times in the books. I finally got to Charleston, South Carolina, around the time I was writing No Greater Love, which ROCKED. I visited the Angel Oak :)
No Greater Love
Wintersong – Sarah McLachlan
This is the haunting song that inspired the ballad Jessie sings to herself over Christmas, the one that her friends back home inadvertently hear during Deirdre Keating's holiday dinner party. 'Oh how I miss you now, my love...'
Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
At one point Josh watches Jessie lose herself on stage – he notes the moment when she seems to come back to reality after the song is finished. This song works perfectly because Jessie is so lost and the song is a dreamy, aching wish for 'more.'
Fields Of Gold – Eva Cassidy
The song Jessie sings at Josh's birthday party. Sting wrote the song but Eva Cassidy's version is my favorite. I often hear Jessie's voice as Eva's…haunting...
Silence, Bloodhound – Christopher Rodgers
The song Jessie and Jacob sing together at the open mic in Charlie's Club.
Out Of The Woods – Justin Rutledge
Jacob Ryan's voice and style. I heard the song on the radio one day and thought, Oh that's Jacob…clearly. I thought it was another interesting example of serendipity later when the announcer said the singer was Justin Rutledge…JR, like Jacob Ryan…there have been many such examples of the universe winking at me while I wrote the books!
Into The Mystic – Colin James
FINALLY got to see Colin James sing this LIVE on March 2nd, 2015, at Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, P.E.I.! I was spellbound, of course…Van Morrison wrote the tune but Colin James ROCKS IT. He sings a haunting version of the tune which I often replay in my head with Jessie walking on stage to sing it with 'Joe Kelly.' / aka Colin James.
Let me just say that Colin James' LIVE version of this song was SO INCREDIBLY AMAZING - I couldn't believe I could possibly love the song more. But Colin James has such a sweet voice, amazing range, and skill at guitar that I was in awe. And of course I pictured Jessie right alongside him. A surreal night to see it performed LIVE.
Songbird – Eva Cassidy
The song that inspired Jacob's farewell song to Jessie at the Scottish Pub. I also use this as my inspiration for the song Jessie sings to Josh in Pat's Rose and Grey, Charlottetown, P.E.I., in Riptide, the fourth book in the series.
Whispers of Home
A kick-ass angry tune, in my opinion, this Gordon Lightfoot classic was the perfect song for Jessie to sing as her message to Caryn. I picture this as the opening theme song to the Drifters TV series…Jessie at fourteen packing her bags…hitch-hiking away from Prince Edward Island...
Into the Mystic (reprise) – Colin James
While I was piecing together the scene where Michael finally plays music again - which brings everyone together - I went back to this song. Not sure why, except that it's a great old Van Morrison folk tune, and it lends itself well to an ensemble cast playing together, harnessing the simple joy of sharing something so extraordinary as live music.
And Then There Was Silence
Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
Ah. Josh's recurring dream. Love the scene where Josh watches as Jessie sings to their infant daughter. Haunting.
Let The Music Cry
You Take My Breath Away – Eva Cassidy
kay, when I'm driving and lost in thought, I usually picture Josh and Jessie together when I hear this song, but in the book the scene plays out a little differently. For me, listening to this beautiful love song while writing that angsty scene near the end of book 7 just brought the writing to a whole new level. See why I want to do film? I can see these scenes so visually, and adding music to the image would just be surreal.
What A Wonderful World – Eva Cassidy
'Jessie's new favorite song,' says Jacob. Well, makes sense to me. And Eva's version of this classic Louis Armstrong favorite is beautiful beyond words. To someone who has been trapped for a number of dark months, this song takes on a whole new meaning. Imagine singing this if you are in Jessie Wheeler's dark place…layers upon layers of feeling...
Ghost – Ella Henderson
Sums up Jessie's pain and seems to me to be just the kind of song she would write at this time in her life.
If I Could Sing You Home
From Eden – Hozier
Jacob classic. Fer sure. I see this being the song he is singing at the end of the book when Jessie says to Josh, "He's angry."
House of Cards – Tyler Shaw
'My hope was running low, you appeared out of nowhere...'
Jacob's song on the baby grand when Jessie comes in at dawn...Tyler Shaw's music is 'pop-tune poppy' but I love the kid's voice. It's very Jacob-like in an 'over-produced Charles Keating kind of way.' I don't like the whole Queen of Hearts line, but I love the piano and percussion. I have an additional scene in my head where Jessie sneaks into one of Jacob's concerts near the end…or at an awards show, like the Grammys…and she watches him perform this with lots of lights and sleek production - a choir, strings, etc. Surreal. It would break her heart, watching him, knowing the song is about her...
Rule the World – Walk Off The Earth
happy song to end the final concert…I had the pleasure of seeing WOTE LIVE in Charlottetown at the end of summer, 2014. One of the most amazing, wonderful musical surprises of my entire life. Loved their energy and the sheer thrill of their stage show.
P.S. The lead singer was wearing a red bandana tied around his head and a grey T-shirt with a ship's wheel and the phrase 'Thar She Blows' on it. Hmmm, recognize those wardrobe choices? Oh yeah, the faded jeans with multiple holes were pretty sexy too, what can I say? Very Jacob-ey.
Sugar – Maroon 5
Just another great happy tune that I see the gang playing at the final concert...
Believin’ – From the Nashville soundtrack
Well, of course this is the song that inspired 'Believe,' Jessie and Jacob's ballad. I guess I kind of used it twice, in 'Whispers' as well as to inspire the ballad that Jessie and Jacob sing at the New York fundraiser.
A Life That’s Good – Nashville soundtrack
The song that brings Jessie to a dark place at the show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.