August 16, 2014


I listened to a lot of classical music and big band jazz while drafting Seven for a Secret, but as I rounded the corner on completion, I decided to compile the actual soundtrack that had evolved over the course of the story. The playlist I've listed below is what I played on a loop during my final revisions before querying the manuscript. Not every song or artist is an exact match to what's in the book, but for me, this compilation captures the spirit and sound of this dual-period story perfectly. (Song titles are linked to corresponding YouTube videos.)

"I Try" by Macy Gray - This circa Y2K classic is what Kate sings and sways to after moving into her new Camden Court apartment.

"Chicago Bound Blues" by Bessie Smith - Following a friend's wedding, Lon drinks his sorrows away to this song by the iconic 1920s singer.

"If You Don't, I Know Who Will" by Bessie Smith - This is the gritty, sultry blues tune that Kate hears while making love to Dexter.

"Auld Lang Syne" by Duke Ellington - There are so many versions of this song, and though this one isn't from the 1920s, it's akin to the jazzy rendition that Lon would have heard at the Aragon Ballroom.

"Squeeze Me" by Fats Waller - Another tune from Lon's New Year's Eve at the Aragon.

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" by Nina Simone - Lon listens to a live jazz band play this at the Green Mill club in Chicago's Uptown, and Nina Simone's version bridges it brilliantly to modern day. 

"You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Kate doesn't have any 1920s-brand jazz in her CD stack, but the Swing Revival that was in full, well, swing by the late '90s sets the right mood as she plans a meet-and-greet happy hour for her new neighbors--her new hot neighbor, more specifically...

"Tonight You Belong to Me" by Gene Austin - Lon actually plays the original 1926 Irving Kaufman version of this sweet little ditty on his Victrola, but Austin's 1927 recording was easier to find. :)

"Cheek to Cheek" by Fred Astaire - While not referenced by title in the scene, this is the Fred Astaire song I imagine Kate playing at her Camden Court happy hour, as its lyrics lend themselves well to the "Heaven" section of the book.

"Moonlight Serenade" by the Glen Miller Band - A late 1930s classic, this one really gets the seniors two-steppin' at Kate's happy hour and suits the night-sky motif that runs through the book.

"A Room with a View" by Artie Shaw - Another 1930s staple, this Big Band song also plays at Kate's cocktail party and alludes to her voyeuristic tendency to spy on the neighbor living across the courtyard.

"Everybody Loves My Baby" by Fats Waller - Though this particular recording dates to 1940, the song is a jazz standard from 1924 and what Lon sings on his way to his Aunt Estella's house.

"Smooth" by Santana (feat. Rob Thomas) - After all the vintage throwbacks, the New Millennium had to represent on this soundtrack again, and this song totally evokes that period for me, as well as radiates the Chicago summer heat. 

"Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin - A classical-jazz hybrid, this song was said to be Al Capone's favorite request at the Green Mill jazz club, and it's what Kate and Dexter hear there, too, over seventy years later.

"Tonight You Belong to Me" by The Bird and the Bee - While not explicitly featured in the book, this song plays in my mind and heart during the epilogue as the perfect bridge between the past and present story threads. It's such a sweet, modern rendition of the 1920s original, and its rippling, almost glimmering synthpop evokes a celestial, standing-in-line-for-Space-Mountain-at-Disney-World sound befitting Kate's planetarium job and all the stargazing throughout Seven for a Secret.

Okay, this is a little embarrassing on two levels, but until my editor pointed out that using radio songs as ringtones wasn't really widespread as of 2000 (Embarrassment #1: My Faulty Memory), when Kate hears her cell phone go off at the end of the book, the ring was originally Lou Bega's "Mambo No.5" (Embarrassment #2: Trying to Incorporate Lou Bega's "Mambo No.5" into My Novel). Oh, whatever. Like you aren't dancing to it right now... FYI, Kate's phone is now set to the Nokia tune.

On that lively little note, thanks for jammin' with me to music both old and not-new-but-not-as-old. And now, we dance!


  1. This is a cool post! Music and writing inspire each other, that's for sure. Hope you do Big time with your book!
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

    1. Very belated thanks, Susie! I do believe music and writing have good synergy. :)