20 May 2010


If Books Could Sing . . .

First of all, let me assure you that this will be the last post on Maniac Magee! I promise!!!

(My brothers and I have already started reading a whole other book, though, so brace yourself for heaps of posts about that.)

One consequence of growing up in the decade of the best movie soundtracks of all time is that I like to think up soundtracks for books as well. Sometimes I have rules, like making sure the song was recorded around the time the book was being written; but I usually go with what feels right. In the case of Maniac Magee, which has such a great sense of place, I knew the only music that would feel right was American music, and I suspected that Country would dominate my track list. But I was wrong about that . . .

3 Songs
For a "Maniac Magee" Mix

Runaway Train by Soul Asylum

I wish I could have embedded the official music video, because it is incredibly powerful and incredibly bleak. Maniac could have so easily been one of the lost children in those worst case scenarios--and there were times when I read the chapters with Grayson that I thought, "Thank God that Grayson isn't a creepy child molester!" The first little boy in the official video could have been perfectly cast in an adaptation of Maniac Magee.

But Maniac Magee isn't a dark book.

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

I confess that I'm hesitant about this pick. Yes, Journey's "Midnight Train" is closer to the magic of Maniac Magee than Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" . . . but this kind of Rock--with more glam than grit--isn't wholly Jeffrey, either. And now that it has become the unofficial theme song of the cotton-candy high school dramedy Glee--which has hardly anything in common with the butterscotch-Krimpet Maniac Magee--it doesn't seem to fit properly.

But if you listen closely to the lyrics, and try to remember what it was like to hear it for the first time, then maybe some of the raw idealism will come shining through again.

Small Town by John Cougar Mellencamp

Let's end with a happy song because Maniac does finally find his home. I don't know if Two Mills counts as a "small town"--but Maniac really needs an anthem that isn't about running away.


christopher said...

Nothing to do with books but good music :) I've heard the Runaway Train song ocassionally over the years and had heard of Soul Asylum but never knew the two were linked. It's a pretty good song, I would have expected the lyrics to have been credited to Springsteen. Anyway, I went and looked up info on them, pretty interesting, especially that that video helped find a bunch of missing children.

Journey rocks, what's Glee?...

christopher said...

"the decade of the best movie soundtracks of all time..." - may have to agree with you considering that movies were so bad in that decade they had to rely on music to draw people in. Please don't ban me =O

Enbrethiliel said...


This may be the last time you ever praise my music choices. Let me savour the moment . . .

(Note that this is the only thing that has saved you from getting banned! This time.)

Glee is an hour-long TV comedy about a Glee club that is struggling to make it in a high school that thinks Glee members are at the bottom of the social ladder. It's one of those "issue driven" shows that takes itself really seriously but can be forgiven because it also has a sharp sense of humour. Look for the cast's version of Don't Stop Believin' on YouTube. It's actually a really good cover.

christopher said...

But it's the only blog to have ever threatened to ban me also !!! You Terminator fans can be touchy :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Ha! Yours is the only blog that actually did ban me . . . and I made a screencap of the combox conversation, printed it out, laminated it, and stored it in the safe deposit box at my favourite Swiss bank--so I can prove it!

Sullivan McPig said...

Don't know the last song, but the first two are great!

Fun and Fearless said...

Yeah. The Glee cast's version of Don't Stop Believin' is good.

Now that inspires me to make a list, too.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sully: The last song is pretty good. I could really get into Mellencamp, if I had more leisure time just to listen to music. =)

F&F: Lists are addictive, aren't they? =)