Earlier this year I translated Clemens Meyer’s short story collection All the Lights, which you can get in good bookshops all over the UK right now, brought to you by the publishers And Other Stories. There are fifteen stories in All the Lights, and I just thought it might be fun to think up a playlist of one song to go with each story. Sort of like a translator’s soundtrack to the collection. It may not make a lot of sense to anyone else, but here it is (part 1):
Story One: Little Death – a man’s on the dole and missing his ex-girlfriend, losing his grip on life in general. The song: Richmond Fontaine’s Let Me Dream of the High Country – because of the first lines, “It’s time for him to get up, but he won’t / until he’s late." And because I met singer Willy Vlautin through Clemens. Although he’s not actually singing on this version:
Story Two: Waiting for South America – a man receives a series of postcards from a friend who says he’s come into money and gone travelling. The song: Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, The Girl from Ipanema – because the story’s not really about Latin America, more about what we imagine it to be (among other things).
Story Three: The Shotgun, The Streetlamp and Mary Monroe – a man’s trying to go cold turkey and his girlfriend’s in bed. The song: Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender – because the first time I really met Clemens he sang this song (he was practicing for an upcoming karaoke session) and because this is a story about love and needing other people.
Story Four: Fatty Loves – a teacher doesn’t quite give into temptation, but he can’t control his physical appetite. The song: Boomtown Rats, I Don’t Like Mondays – because school can be hell for all concerned.
Story Five: Of Dogs and Horses – a man bets all he has at the races to save his dog’s life. The song: The Pioneers’ Long Shot Kick De Bucket – because it’s a song about how a horse can spoil your day.
More over the next couple of days...