My Table of Contents Looks More Like the Song List on a Soundtrack…or Something

call her moonchild

So, all my chapters (except for the first four that cover childhood), are named after song lyrics. In fact, I’ll just put the list of songs on here, to give an idea, and then I want to talk about the general motivations. Some songs come up more than once, (“Moonchild” by Chris Cornell, for example), different lyrics are used in each chapter. That song is the repeating refrain of the story, for sure. Anyway, for now, I’ll just give song title and artist.

Here’s the current table of contents:

“Ribbons Undone” – Tori Amos
“Until the Ocean…” – Malfunkshun
“Down in a Hole” – Alice in Chains
“Moonchild” – Chris Cornell
“Miss World” – Hole
“Paper Bag” – Fiona Apple
“Call Me a Dog” – Temple of the Dog
“Coming Down” – Eleven
“Zero Chance” – Soundgarden
“Moonchild” – Chris Cornell
“Moonchild” – Chris Cornell
“A Murder of One” – Counting Crows
“Jimmy” – Tool
“Unforgiving Hours” – Drain S.T.H.
“Colorblind” – Counting Crows
“I Wish I Was Here” – Dog’s Eye View
“Sunshower” – Chris Cornell
“Crazy Baby” – Joan Osborn
“Now Is Mine” – K’s Choice
“Prison Sex” – Tool
“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
“Toast” – Tori Amos
“Rain King” – Counting Crows
“Moonchild” – Chris Cornell

Some of them, I’m not crazy about. The one I’m least crazy about is “Hallelujah.” I mean, I LOVE the song, it’s just the one that I feel least sure that it fits right.

I had a strong urge to go with songs that really, to me, symbolized that time, like songs I listened to a lot at the time, or the song from a particular artist that I like best, or feel most deeply about, and sometimes that just didn’t work out.

For example, to go back to Mr. Jeff Buckley, I would have LOVED to use “Lover, You Should’ve Comoe Over” or “Mojo Pin,” because those are the songs of his that get me on the deepest level. “Mojo Pin” espeically reminds me of that time in my life. The way Jeff sings the “ooohs” at hte beginning and the opening notes, it just does something to me, and that part in particular really seems to symbolize a sort of pulling out of myself that happened during the spring of that year, but I’m just not sure there’s any line in that song that fits with any particular chapter I have.

I also wanted to use the song “Breakable” by Fisher, from the Great Expectations Soundtrack, because that too was a song I listened to a lot back then, and it reminds me of that time, but again it didn’t quite fit, I don’t think.

Likewise, I might’ve preferred a different K’s Choice song, and at a different place (chronologically). And as for Temple of the Dog, I’d prefer to use the song “All Night Thing,” because that’s a song I write about in the text of the chapter, and one that I just love. Since it comes up in the text, I’d love to use it as the chapter heading, but there’s just no lines in it that fit, at all.

And I actually split what was once one chapter to make room for the Joan Osborn song, because that song was so symbolic at the time, and the lyrics SO fit my life and what I wrote about.

Actually, writing this, I’m struck again how I sometimes feel like the table of contents would more deeply fit the book, or feel more right, somehow, to me, if I DID use the songs I really want to and maybe I can rethink that some. Maybe I should try harder to see if there’s a way to make those songs fit as I go through the manuscript again.

On the other hand, there was one chapter that I completely discarded (I think of it as a B-side, since I think of everything in music terms) that I thought had a freakin’ perfect lyrical title. It was a chapter about in which I talked with some friends during that first year of college about a breakup the year before, and was really searching for the reason WHY the relationship ended, since I really had no idea, and looking back now, I kind of think that at that time, as a freshman in college, I perhaps drew some wrong conclusions, or at least, conclusions that I carried with me for years afterwards, whether they were accurate or not, that really affected the way I saw myself. I eventually decided the chapter itself wasn’t really necessary to the story, but I loved the title. It was a Soundgarden lyric – “Looking for a paradigm so I can pass it on,” because in a way, that’s exactly what I was doing, and the other reason I loved it was that the name of the song that line is from is called “Searching With My Good Eye Closed,” which I thought was just soooo appropriate. Plus it could sort of relate to the whole legal blindness thing. So, I was sorry to let that chapter go.

So, what I’m thinking now is that I really want to write more about how I arrived at lyrics as chapter titles, because they’re all so different. Some I picked for the meaning of the whole song, some for a snippet, some because the song and album names also enhance the meanings. Some have layers of meaning, and others are simpler. Some have things no one else would probably ever pick up on without listening to the whole song, and in other cases, the rest of the song aside from chosen lyric is totally irrelevant and even inappropriate to the chapter. So I think what I’ll do is write a post about each one, because the process is so different for each one.


~Emilia J

Currently listening:
“Kingdom of Rain” – The The (with Sinead O’Connor) – This is such a sad and poignant song, about a relationship gone stale and passionless. I think it’s a song that’s really full of aching, and probably (sadly) a feeling or circumstance that’s not that uncommon. I remember being very affected by the words the first time I heard it, even though I’d hardly been in any relationships or experienced this sort of thing at the time so many years ago. Here’s a lyrical snippet, I like the imagery, even though the song itself is so sad: “And as silent as the car lights that move across this room/And as cold as our bodies silhouetted by the moon/And I would lie awake and wonder, is it just me/Or is this the way that love’s supposed to be?”

2 thoughts on “My Table of Contents Looks More Like the Song List on a Soundtrack…or Something

  1. You know, reading MOONCHILD, at times the title made sense and I could really understand the salience. Other times, not so well. I think writing a post about why each title makes ‘sense’ in each chapter is a phenomenal idea – 1/ it might inform how you revise the chapter; and 2/ it’s great marketing! At any rate, looking forward – as always – to reading more, be it here or in The Book. Peace, Linda

  2. I’m glad you like the idea : ) I was afraid it might be boring, but I was also thinking of it in terms of marketing as well, like, hopefully this will help pique interest. I was also thinking it might help me figure out if a title isn’t right and maybe brainstorm for something better.


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