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 . . .
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.