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9 Songs that Inspired Andrew Sean Greer
I lived through 1985, but I didn’t live through 1941 or 1918, the other eras of Greta’s life, so I tried to imagine what I would have listened to back then. A mad mix of everything, it turns out—from swing to classical to vaudeville.
1. When Tomorrow Comes by The Eurythmics
1985 was full of pop sounds, but for me I always loved a brokenhearted woman who sang like a robot. Annie Lennox helped me survive adolescence with her lovelorn lyrics and cold cold heart. And yet—so full of hope. If there were a movie of Greta Wells, it would begin with this song about “tomorrow.”
2. Close To Me by The Cure
Almost as good as a robot lady for me was a man falling apart. Being fifteen, putting this into my Walkman, and hearing The Cure breathing into my ear. Shocking. Raw and sad and full of desperate love, just like Greta. Listen to the swinging brass section—echoes of the past.
3. La Vie En Rose by Grace Jones
Grace Jones, the ultimate robot chanteuse. This patient nostalgic remake (she doesn’t sing for two and a half minutes): I picture Greta playing it as she lies in bed and thinks about her life.
4. Chattanooga Choo Choo by The Andrews Sisters
I just had to. 1941. What could better capture the spirit of America on the brink of war? They are really swinging on this one by the two minute mark.
5. Lady in the Dark: The Saga of Jenny by Gertrude Lawrence
It wasn’t all swing swing swing in 1941—there was wit and elegance to the era, including this Kurt Weil number. It pretends to be a moral tale about how a woman should not make up her mind. Of course it really does quite the opposite.
6. Everything Happens to Me by Billie Holiday
Oh Billie. A comical journey through the mishaps of a woman’s life, but Billy Holiday gives it real despair. I imagine this playing in Greta’s kitchen as she smokes a cigarette while the casserole heats in the oven.
7. Darktown Strutter's Ball by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band
1918 had a sense of freedom, and this song (disturbingly titled) shows undeniable joy. Picture young women tapping their feet, unlacing their corsets and getting up to dance! Greta’s Aunt Ruth would have played this hit during one of her notorious parties.
8. Firebird Suite: The Infernal Dance by The Budapest Festival Orchestra
Jazz, ragtime, dixieland—music that many Americans didn’t understand. But classical was quite in vogue. This piece was thoroughly modern, and its drama reminds us of the horrors of 1918: war, famine and plague.
9. You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet by Al Jolson
Subtly risqué vaudeville. Jolsen sang like nobody before—people wept and screamed—and he influenced Crosby, Sinatra, Elvis, and every kid on American Idol who croons a note. What better way to end a soundtrack than with a promise of better to come?
The year is 1985 and the setting is New York City. Our main character, Greta Wells, is in a dark place. Read morePublished 1 day ago by L. Abel
A wonderful, fascinating, sad and happy version of my favorite theme; time traveling. This one with a different twist. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Elizabeth Jones
I loved switching back and forth between Greta's lives, this was a great read. My favorite character, who I hope to "grow up" to be, is Aunt Ruth. Definitely recommend this one!Published 16 days ago by Carrie Olvitt
TBH, I was struggling to get through this book and it's now residing in my "To Try Again" pile.Published 1 month ago by From NJ
I've had a sample of this book in my library for a long time and so glad I finally read this story. Totally different time travel than the typical. Read morePublished 1 month ago by blair
Suspend disbelief and travel through time to see how much when you live defines who you are. The author does a nice job of creating characters whose personalities are clearly... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Moneypitt
Greta Wells started out a bit slowly, I'll admit to that, but I think all the negative reviews on GR are a bit harsh (although, everyone is allowed their own opinions on things). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ali Matson