The Sunday Salon: Music and Books

I have always tied certain songs to fictional works, for whatever reason. This is probably linked to my love of musicals and my love of songs with an actual story over more vague ones. (More “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” than “L-O-V-E”). “Viva La Vida”, for instance, reminds me strongly of The Legend of Zelda. (But to be totally honest, it actually doesn’t take a lot to remind me of The Legend of Zelda.) But while I was reading The Hunger Games, I had one of the strongest musical reactions to a novel I think I’ve ever had. Spoilers for The Hunger Games abound, obviously–avoid this Sunday Salon if you wish to remain as pure as the driven snow.

Towards the middle of The Hunger Games, the heroine, Katniss, watches her ally, Rue, die from a spear wound. As she bleeds out, little Rue asks Katniss to sing to her as she dies. It’s a very affecting scene and it’s a turning point for Katniss–she no longer hides from her fellow competitors but seeks them out in revenge for Rue, who reminds her so much of her little sister. Katniss sings her a lullaby she often sang for her sister as she dies. Collins provides lyrics to a lullaby (I’m not sure if it’s real or not), but that’s not what I heard, no matter how much I tried to force myself to try and read it as Collins presented it.

I heard Nick Cave and Current 93’s version of “All The Pretty Little Horses”. Have a listen below.

“All The Pretty Little Horses” is a traditional slave lullaby–sung by slaves to their master’s children as their own children were neglected. Nick Cave and Current 93’s version is absolutely heartrending. Cave’s deep voice and the sad melody really makes it hit where it hurts. I first ran across it in something relating to Torchwood (especially Children of Earth), and I’ve loved it ever since.

I’m not quite sure why I reacted so violently to the scene, but I know why I’ve subconsciously chosen the song. Its heritage makes the subtext of the scene a bit more explicit–Rue is a substitute, in many ways, for Prim, Katniss’ little sister. It also drives home the horror of a twelve year old facing death, asking for a lullaby, and adds an edge to Katniss’ grief as she sings. I’m always going to associate this song with this scene now. The film adaptation won’t, of course, ever add this song to this scene, but I’ll always see it that way in my head.

Aren’t I just brimming with cheer this morning! Sorry, folks. Anyways, in other news, I finished The Hunger Games, as well as The Case for Books–reviews are ready to go and scheduled! While I tore through The Hunger Games in a day, I don’t want to rent anything else from the Decatur Library as I pack to leave, so I’m reading some paperbacks I’ve picked up along the way–Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage is first up, with Friday Night Lights if I finish that. I finished all my exams yesterday, but I have a few days before I move back home. I plan to sleep, read, and sleep some more–I’m just exhausted, and I need to rest up for the The Lord of the Rings Rewatch!

What songs do you always associate with certain books?

One thought on “The Sunday Salon: Music and Books

  1. It’s not so much that I associate songs with books as that certain things in real life instantly remind me of a song. See the Madison library (we were on our way to UW – Madison) and I started humming “As long as the Madison Public Library was entrusted to me” from “My Fair Lady.” ON the same trip we passed a road sign for “Superior” something or another, which led me to the Edmund Fitzgerald song by Gordon Lightfoot. One of my kids is the same way — she had two friends who would try for days to trip her up and never did.

    As for reading, I finished the latest Nora Roberts, “Savor the Moment,” which was highly enjoyable. And I indulged my love for thrillers with “The Ovary Wars” by Mike Hogan. Great premise — the US is being destroyed economically speaking because women are unknowingly being sterilized by foreign power: no pregnancies leads to population declines and economic collapse. To me it foretells a possible future confrontation between China and the US. (And boy, that could come sooner rather than later!)

    Happy Monday everyone: it is a gorgeous, gorgeous day out.

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