On the book tour and the publication day for Katie Marsh’s new book, ‘This Beautiful Life’, Katie talks about her love of music.
I’ve wanted to set a book to music for a very long time, but I only found the courage once Abi arrived in my head one day and I knew that she – like me – set her entire life to music.
In ‘This Beautiful Life’ Abi has just recovered from bowel cancer when the book starts, only to discover that her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made some decisions that are about to come back to haunt him and her son Seb is battling with a secret of his own. The story follows them over the ensuing year, with each month set to a song on Abi’s cancer survival playlist, which she creates to remind her of the people that matter and the life that she doesn’t want to leave.
Ever since I discovered mix tapes I have set my life to music. From trying to capture the final lines of ‘Parklife’ before Simon Mayo talked over them, to creating playlists for each book I write, I am a confirmed addict of mixing songs from all genres to create a mood or a feeling. For me, nothing is more evocative than music and today I’d love to share the playlist of my life with you. I’ve kept it short – twelve songs just like Abi – but believe me there were three hundred in the running and so it took many tortuous hours to choose.
‘Thank you for the music’ by ABBA. The first song I learned by heart and – unfortunately – one I liked to perform for customers at my parents’ trout farm. Thank goodness it was before the age of phones with videos.
‘The Wombling Song’ by Mike Batt and Chris Spedding. This was playing at my first ever school disco, when I danced with Matthew Archer and learnt that perhaps there were more moves than ‘step-shuffle’.
‘I don’t care’ by Transvision Vamp. I LOVED this band when I was a teenager. I was going through one of those ‘wear-DMs and only buy skirts with bells on’ phases and I used to play this constantly at full volume, much to the irritation of my entire family. Wendy James is pretty much entirely responsible for a very painful experiment with hair bleach. This song sums up teenagerdom for me.
‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles. Will always remind me of mum and dad and their beloved vinyl collection. Such a simple and beautiful song.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. My brother and I always used to fight over what music to play in the car. This generally won and I have to say, he had better taste than me.
‘Sit down’ by James. I can’t hear this song without seeing me and my mates jumping up and down in a sweaty huddle and then falling to the floor for the chorus. This still happens every time we hear it, come to think of it.
‘Children’ by Robert Miles. I have danced on roofs to this, danced in sweaty nightclubs to this and now I listen to it whenever I’m stuck on a chapter and I need to dance around until I work it out. This is the anthem of my twenties, no question.
‘The Promise’ by Tracy Chapman. I walked down to the aisle to this beautiful, heartfelt song and I still cry every time I hear it.
‘A Tisket-A-Tasket’ sung by Ella Fitzgerald. An amazing extravaganza of scat-singing and pure joy, this is Ella at her best. And my grandparents adored it, so when I hear it I think of them dancing in their garden.
‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ from ‘Hello, Dolly!’ This is what picked me up after my second novel was rejected and I really wondered if now was the time to give up. I made an ‘I’ll show them’ playlist and started number three, which was eventually published as ‘My Everything.’ This song was the opener.
Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A Major. At school I played the clarinet, and attempted parts of this work, and as a result I know a) how technically difficult it is and b) how glorious it can sound when people who aren’t me play it. My number one classical listen for peace and wonder.
‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyoncé. A song to dance to, to bounce to and to be inspired by. Love it.
You can buy This Beautiful Life from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.