Just for Fun: Playlists for The Grown Ups
When I write, if I’m really lucky, I’m really just transcribing this big movie in my head that unrolls and plays on a loop until I put it on paper. That’s the only way I can describe what happens when I’ve really fallen into the story with a group of characters all clamoring to be heard. The songs I picked for Sam maps out his emotional territory—and add to his life as only a great soundtrack can enhance a movie and sweep you right back into the moment.
Lenny Bruce, the Historic 1962 Concert When Lenny Was Busted
West Side Story, Original Cast Soundtrack
Mr. Ed: Straight from the Horse’s Mouth,
Mike Stewart and The Stable Hands
At fifteen Sam’s world is his friends and not much else. A lot of his free time is spent in the basement of his friend Peter Chang’s house, where the boys hang to play video games, get drunk, and listen to a few albums belonging to Peter Chang’s mother on an old-school stereo cabinet. The diversity of these albums is absurd, but that’s half the fun.
“Your Body Is a Wonderland,” John Mayer
Sam and Suzie Epstein do some exploring in her basement at fifteen, and later, Sam and Bella Spade begin a relationship while seniors in high school. Sam’s desire for Bella combined with a refusal to define their relationship leaves them loosely attached through the next few years.
“My Father’s House,” Bruce Springsteen
Sam’s father falls in love with Marguerite, and they embark on a massive renovation of Sam’s childhood home. During this time Sam’s father, Hunt, suffers a massive coronary and needs emergency surgery.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,”
The Rolling Stones
“You’re Gonna Miss Me,” 13th Floor Elevators
Sam’s brother, Michael, is dating Suzie Epstein, Sam’s first crush. It doesn’t help that in Sam’s eyes Michael always seems to get what he wants. These two songs encapsulate Sam’s feelings from the time he finds out they are dating right up through their engagement and wedding.
“All Day and All of the Night,” The Kinks
“Till the End of the Day,” The Kinks
Drifting from job to job, in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, Sam takes Peter Chang up on the offer of a week out on the Cape with their friends. To his dismay Bella arrives with her boyfriend, Ted. It’s during this trip that Sam eventually concedes that Bella is his one true love. So he pines his way through the week.The pounding punk tunes of the Kinks seem just about right for the chaos that is the state of Sam’s brain.
“The Weight,” The Band
With its religious allusions to Nazareth, and the offer to “take a load off,” this song seems just about right for Sam, who leaves yet another job, retreats to his childhood home again, adrift, tries to reconcile his less than stellar life so far to that of his cardiologist brother, only to discover that home is not what it used to be. His father is struggling. Sam’s attempts to explain his feelings to Bella are rebuffed. Some serious soul-searching is going on here.
“Come As You Are,” Nirvana
This message of acceptance should be Sam’s anthem by the time he figures it all out. His opening of a restaurant coincides with the birth of Suzie and Michael’s son, Leo.
“Feels Like the First Time,” Foreigner
This is a fairly corny song, but it’s one of those recognizable rock anthems that work. If you’ve traveled with Sam down his winding path to figuring it all out, this song makes a lot of sense by the end of the book.