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The Music of 'When Men Cry'

Okay, so this is a bit of a weird article.

Earlier this year during a particular episode of A Little Idea, a conversation came up about the creative process, and how some writers love to go to other mediums for inspiration, ideas and for crafting their own worlds.

Music was one such medium that had a particular impact on me when writing When Men Cry, and that discussion prompted me to put together a playlist of some of the songs that I listened to when writing the book in 2018 and 2019.

For me, music is a valuable tool that sets a scene, puts you in the mood to a scene a certain way, put you into the mindset of a character, and more. Listening to it in addition to creating a scrapbook was invaluable for putting the book together, and above all for keeping me from becoming overwhelmed in the entire process of writing.

I hope some of these tracks help you out in your journey, or potentially make you see my book in a new way! Not mincing words, but if someone came to me tomorrow and said, 'hey, we want to adapt your book to the screen', this would be the start of the soundtrack!

You can listen to this playlist below:



'Lose My Mind' - Jai Wolf, Mr Gabriel (from The Cure for Loneliness)

Of all the songs in this playlist, I can't tell you exactly why this song is here. It seems to be mostly a vibe: for me it captured that sense of party atmosphere and something that you would hear played in a club on a night out, yet the lyrics themselves captured something much more sinister, which seemed to fit the night out Noah, Chris, Logan and Jock were embarking upon. Also, it seemed to get me motivated when starting writing.

'Humility' - Gorillaz, George Benson (from The Now Now)

This entire Gorillaz album was a real influence for me, as it is a record that is filled with a real sense of ennui. It was described as 'a day at the beach, but you're too sad to enjoy it', and that feeling was really what I clung to with this track. On a album that is filled with delightful sounding tracks and seemingly positive energy, there is an real underlying feeling of a dance with hopelessness and depression. This track really encapsulates that, and where it's contrast between cheerful tune and sombre lyrics is at it's best.

'It's A Beautiful World' - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (from Who Built The Moon)

I do love myself some Oasis and Brit Pop, and this track from 2017 really hit home for me as I was writing the book. To me, Oasis has always been that kind of band that feels like a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds, but this song gives off the opposite: a sense of the beauty of the world, yet in a French spoken word section there is talk of borders closing down and the end of the world approaching. Again, very much a fascinating contrast of cheerful song writing with sinister lyrics and troubles hiding in plain sight, much like many of the main characters troubles in the book.

'Suspirium' - Thom Yorke (from Suspiria)

There are few artists that can set an atmosphere of pain and melancholy like Thom Yorke. Having really gotten into Radiohead around 2013-14, when this simple piano ballad came out it just hit me like a freight train. I still haven't seen the horror film that this song was written for, but it's sense of unease and tension is something that I really fed off when having to write some of the more uneasy parts of the book.

'Enough For Now' - Flowertruck (from Mostly Sunny)

If anyone hasn't heard of this incredible band from Sydney's inner west, I strongly suggest you check them out. This track, as well their entire debut album, really nails a sense of youth, immaturity, and just scraping by. It's extremely colourful bubblegum pop, but there is a lot going on in these tracks. For scenes where many of the main characters were hanging out, a lot of those scenes were about putting up fronts, looking good in front of your mates, and being intimidated by people in your group of friends who seem to have it more together than you. This song absolutely nails that feeling.

'Daydreaming' - Radioheard (from A Moon Shaped Pool)

Oh jeez, this track. Get ready for feeling down in the dumps. This track is a dreary, PAINFULLY sad song that is filled with a real sense of utter hopelessness. It also has moments where it's genuinely unsettling, and for me during some of the darkest moments in the book, this song took me to some places I didn't necessarily want to go emotionally. There was so many times I was moved to tears while writing scenes of existential crises for Chris, as the final moments of this song repeated around in my head.

'Alone On The Rope' - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (from If Love Is The Law)

This B-Side from one of Noel Gallagher's singles really nails a sense of being stuck in a rut, repeating the same mistakes over and over, and feeling isolated with your feelings. I would often use this as a track to bring me out of feeling depressed, as it would often serve as a good pick me up during the writing of some of the harder parts of the book. It's a weirdly melancholic tune. Weird how music does that.

'Elephants' - Riley Pearce (from Eastbound)

Okay, this bloody track. Riley Pearce is another local artist from Western Australia, and this tune saved my life. Not even kidding. This time of my life was a shitshow, and there were moments where the troubles with work, family and more, not to mention the struggles I had with this book really got to me. I would play this song, and something about it was just calming, but also empathising with the same feelings I was having. I owe Riley a hell of a lot.

'Wish You Were Here' - Pink Floyd (from Wish You Were Here)

An oldie but a goodie. During times where characters were missing each other, this song really help me nail that sense of longing and of wanting to reach out. Floyd are just so good with how they convey emotion in their songs, especially in such captivating and heart-on-your-sleeve ways.

'Let It Happen' - Tame Impala (from Currents)

This track really was helpful for me when writing part three of When Men Cry. It talks about a lot of acceptance, but at the same time there is a sense of anxiety and building tension throughout the track, which was something that I wanted to translate to the book. The end acceptance point as well didn't necessarily feel like a positive point, there could be an acceptance (that Chris realises within the book) that a certain relationship can't function anymore, and it sends us down a rabbit hole upon discovering that truth.

'City Song' - Daughters (from You Won't Get What You Want)

Of any album I listened to when writing this book, this record from Rhode Island band Daughters was the one that was the strongest influence. To me, I would recommend the entire album this track comes from if I could. I don't usually go for no wave, industrial, noise rock or hard hitting metal, but in 2018 when I was really in a very depressed state and writing the darkest parts of the book, this entire album, but especially this song, was such a place of comfort. It took my anger, my sadness, my desire to just get angry, and it understood. It's a tough listen, but if anyone is struggling with their mental health, part of me would almost recommend this record, based purely on my own personal experiences. It's very dark and hard hitting, but this album got my troubles, and understood me. It became cathartic as a result.

'Fire Flies' - Gorillaz (from The Now Now)

Gorillaz turn up again here, because this song really nailed the sad, empty, lost feelings for me. Just feeling like you are stuck in a rut, you can't change, you feel lost, whatever it may be. It has a strange, nocturnal vibe and a lens of sombreness that reeks across the production. It's a very underappreciated song in my eyes, and I often come back to it when I feel lost or sad.

'Echoes' - Pink Floyd (from Meddle)

There are so many great Floyd songs out there, but this track is a real personal favourite of mine. It's a 23 minute epic filled with beauty, existential dread, violence, meandering adventures, nature, and it succeeds so well at making you feel small. It's honestly amazing how quickly this track flies by, as it welcomes you into a strange world. For me, it was such a valuable track when feeling about my own life, and to me it was a valuable musical representation of how Chris felt out at The Gap: small, confused and lost. (there is also an amazing live version in Pompeii that you definitely check out).

'Achilles Come Down' - Gang Of Youths (from Go Farther In Lightness)

This is a popular track for lovers of Gang of Youths, and it isn't hard to see why. Given the climax of the book, it also became a valuable perspective on what it is like to speak to someone who is struggling with their feelings. Often in that critical moment, there is many things going on inside that persons head, and this song encapsulates that perfectly, as confronting as that mindset is.

'Less Sex' - Daughters (from You Won't Get What You Want)

Of all the tracks on the Daughters album that I pulled from for the climax of the book, this one hit the hardest. It was a track that really encapsulates the hopeless, foreboding dread that depression feels like when it envelops you. This track was here for me in a very dark period of my life, and it got me when I struggled to tell others around me exactly how I was feeling. It is complete, honest despair. And this track saw me threw some of the darker periods of writing.

'Rut' - The Killers (from Wonderful Wonderful)

The Killers are cheesy, in a great way. Their latest output has seen them really wear their hearts on their sleeves, and to me this track is probably their most emotionally honest. It was inspired by Brandon Flowers' wife Tana and her huge struggles with PTSD, and what it really nails is that struggle to pull yourself out from that depressed rut and mindset. This track really helped me connect with Logan, his needs to try and pull himself out of his struggles at a critical point. It is a beautiful, poignant track.

'Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane' - Gang Of Youths (from Go Farther In Lightness)

'Go Farther in Lightness' - Gang Of Youths (from Go Farther In Lightness)

Lastly, these two songs go together. The former track really is a battle cry for me, examining this mindset of not letting your life go to waste, and the potential ramifications if you do. For me, it's a track about the need for us to 'do', for us to try and go beyond the overwhelmingly small things of the everyday that get us down, and realise that the fact we're even here at all is incredible.

If there was ever a time this book was adapted for the screen, the latter track would be the theme to end the adaptation. It's a moment of closure, of calm after the storm, a collective breath and the start of something new. The mention of rainless Sydney skies as well just gives me a sense of place too. For all the themes of the book that have reached for the general human experience, this story is an Australian story, with Australian folks, set in our place. It's very special to me.


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