Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Western Mysteries Blog Tour: P.K.'S Playlist!

Caroline Lawrence

P.K.’s Playlist by Caroline Lawrence

If they ever make a film of my first Western Mystery, The Case of the Deadly Desperados, here are some tracks that might suit. Warning! Here be spoilers…

1. Saga of the Old West by Steve Martin

As the first Western Mystery opens we see a stagecoach pelting across the dusty Nevada desert. 12-year-old half Sioux P.K. Pinkerton has just found his foster parents scalped and dying. And the three killers are after him. He is clinging to the top of the stagecoach, hoping the killers haven’t seen him hitch a lift. [The banjo player on this track is Steve Martin, the comedian and actor. He’s been playing banjo nearly all his life and he’s great.]

2. Short Change Hero by The Heavy

Just outside Virginia City, P.K. scrambles off the stage and finds himself in Chinatown. P.K.’s dead foster father called it ‘Satan’s Playground’ warned him never to go there. It is a rough and ready mining town full of men and women on the make. For someone who does not understand people very well ♫ this ain't no place for no hero to call home...♫ [One of my most faithful fans, Fahad, told me about this song. I love it. It’s got a real gritty feel.]

3. Fool’s Gold by Stone Roses

♫ I’m standing alone, I’m watching you all, I’m seeing you sinking, Fools’ gold... ♫ When P.K. is betrayed and robbed, he learns the hard way that everybody in Virginia City is driven by greed for gold or silver. Soon he lies trussed up and waiting to be eaten by coyotes. Who’s the fool now? [This is one of my favourite songs and as it has gold in the title I get to put it in.]

4. On the Outside Looking In by Alison Krauss & Union Station

A Chinese boy takes P.K. to a photographer’s studio and tells him to lie low until morning. P.K. is lonely, hungry, broke and tired. ♫ Should I go or should I stay on the outside looking in? ♫ Should he do as he’s been told, or take action? He has an idea. Detectives often use disguises and there is a whole closet full of clothes there. [Alison Krauss and her bluegrass band Union Station did quite a few songs on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, which I own. But this song is new to me. I first heard it last month a Starbucks in Sparks, Nevada, about 25 miles north of Virginia City.]

5. Buono, Brutto, Cattivo (theme of The Good, the Bad & the Ugly) Ennio Morricone

As P.K. ventures out onto the streets of Virginia City he meets several characters, some good, some bad, some ugly: the photographer Isaiah Coffin, the new reporter Sam Clemens, the city editor Dan DeQuille, the sadistic desperado Whittlin Walt. But who's who? [This is the theme song to my favourite Western and one of my top ten films. A genius score by a genius composer, Ennio Morricone, writing for a genius director, Sergio Leone. The haunting five-note refrain is based on a coyote’s howl.]

6. My Kind of Town (Live at Carnegie Hall) by Frank Sinatra

When the newspapermen at the Territorial Enterprise newspaper tell P.K. what the three Deadly Desperados are after, and how much it’s worth, he decides to cash in and go east to join his uncles firm, the Pinkerton Detective Agency in... Chicago. ♫ My kind of town – Chicago is... ♫ [According to my grandfather, California quail sing ‘Chicago’. So does Frank Sinatra.]

7. Poker Face by Lady GaGa

One of the people our hero meets is Poker Face Jace, a gambler who is mightily impressed by P.K.'s inscrutable expression. Jace promises to teach P.K. whether people are honest or not. But like everyone else in Virginia City, he has a price. Pretty soon it all ends in tears... and gunplay! ♫ Can’t read my poker face... ♫ [I couldn’t resist using this song, even though I created the character Poker Face Jace years before this hit the charts.]

8. Call the Captain by the Steep Canyon Rangers

P.K. has to escape those who would take his life, so he seeks refuge in the most dangerous place in Virginia City... down a 300-foot deep silver mine. No, P.K. Don’t go down there! ♫ I ain’t goin’ down to the mines no more, I want clear blue sky and a whole lot more… ♫ [I heard Steve Martin play at the Royal Festival Hall in 2010. His ‘backup group’ were these guys: the Steep Canyon Rangers. ‘They’re hard to get hold of,’ he quipped. ‘They’re always roaming those steep canyons.’]

9. Motherless Child by the Blind Boys of Alabama

P.K. is trapped and in despair, and so he writes this, the first lines of his journal:

My name is P.K. Pinkerton, and before this day is over I will be dead.

♫ Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home... ♫ [The Blind Boys of Alabama also sing ‘Down in the Hole’, the theme tune of one of my favourite TV shows, The Wire. They are all blind.]

10. Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford & Sons

In Greek mythology, every hero has a kind of resurrection, if they survive the battle with the beast in the underworld and return to the world of the living. ♫ It seems that all my bridges have been burned, But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works ♫ The title is a reference to the resurrection of Jesus, who is the hero par excellence in Judeo-Christian literature... [I taught Marcus Mumford art and Latin at a primary school in South London. I love that he and his fab band now write bluegrass-y gospel-y pop.]

But will P.K. have a ‘resurrection’? And will he make it to Chicago? Read The Case of the Deadly Desperados to find out.


Thanks for such a great musical post, Caroline! The Case of the Deadly Desperados is now out in the UK, and there will be more next year. For more information on Caroline and her books, visit the following links:


Emma Book Angel said...

What a brilliant post. I love how you set it out - wonderful. Thank you both

Roger said...

Great post Caroline. Outside Looking In was a Joan Armatrading track - I've not heard the Alison Krauss version but will do, as I loved her stuff on O Brother

Every success


Zoe Crook said...

I love the Roman Mysteries written by her, so this new book sounds great too!

fionadunbar said...

I want to see this movie. Somebody make it! Fantastic soundtrack. I love those names, too: Sam Clemens! Whittlin Walt! Excellent.

Caroline Lawrence said...

Thanks, y'all. I felt kind of galumphing and dusty in this purty purple blog!

Gareth Mottram said...

Great post - writing/reading and music go so well together and this is a nice way to deliver a synopsis that calls for readers to find out more.

Do you write with music on in the background? I have a lot of film music (Hans Zimmer, John Williams etc) when I'm writing my paranormal action stuff - it really helps me "be there" in the action.

Thanks again for your post.