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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Playlist of Septimus Bridge

If you are about to read (or reread) The Curse of Septimus Bridge, here is some good news. Now you can listen to music while you read it. Of course, you were always able to do that, but now you can listen to music that was specifically chosen to invoke the book.

Two years ago when Lautaro’s Spear was published, I shared a Spotify playlist of music I had listened to while writing it. A bit belatedly, I am now doing the same for Septimus.


I do not burden you with the entire list I had playing. That one ran a total of eight-and-a-half hours—enough to ensure that, most days anyway, I did not have to hear the same piece of music more than once. The list I now share with readers is less sprawling and more carefully curated. Comprising thirty-two tracks, it clocks in at just under two hours.

I am not sure if anyone could read the book in two hours, and even if you could, I do not think the various tracks would fall in at the appropriate places, so it is not recommended that you use the playlist as a pacing tool.

Some of the songs were obvious, indeed, inevitable choices. Three—“Maria” by Blondie, “Lola” by the Kinks, and “Bella María de Mi Alma” by Los Lobos—are actually referenced in the novel. Some music is there simply to set the mood. Soundtrack music was included from a couple of television influences, specifically Robert Cobert’s score for the original Dark Shadows series, Danny Elfman’s music from the 2012 Tim Burton movie version, and also a Johnny Jewel contribution to the recent revival of Twin Peaks. Other tracks were included because they tied in nicely with events depicted in the story. For example, who knew that Electric Light Orchestra once recorded a track called “The Battle of Marston Moor”?

A few tracks were selected purely because of their titles and, happily, they also fit in with the general mood of things. How lucky to find suitable tracks with titles like “Septimus” (from the soundtrack of Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust), “Astaroth,” “Justine’s Theme” (from the soundtrack of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire), “Izanami,” “Koschei,” and “Netherworld.” As it happens, Septimus in Stardust was played Mark Strong, and he would not be a bad choice to play Septimus Bridge. Also, Justine in Free Fire was played by Brie Larson (no relation), and she would not be a bad choice to play, well, just about anyone in the book.

As unlikely as it might seem, one track appears on both the Lautaro’s Spear playlist and on the Septimus Bridge one. Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army” appeared on the former because the song was actually mentioned in the book. It appears on the latter because of its connection to historical events depicted in the story.

As with the previous playlist, interested filmmakers are invited to peruse it for possible soundtrack material after a movie deal has been negotiated. Also, it would be good if you have Mark and Brie’s phone numbers in your rolodex.

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