A book extra for The Role of Music in It’s You
It’s You is a story of two women and two very different love stories, set in present day Napa and WWII Germany. Both women — 30-year-old Dr. Ali McAdams and 94-year-old Edie Stephens — have loved and lost.
It’s You is told in alternating points of view between the two women, and they are very different women. Ali is a pragmatic, no-nonsense dentist. As a young woman, Edie was a fiercely passionate and idealistic musician. On the surface these women have nothing in common, and so while writing the book, I created three different playlists, one for Ali, one for Edie and then a 3rd playlist, a classical playlist for when I was working on Edie’s diary which covers 1939 to 1944.
Because Edie was studying music—composition & counterpoint—in Germany in the late 1930’s at the outbreak of WWII, it was imperative I get Edie’s world right. I spent months reading and researching the great German composers, German music schools, and the time period itself.
The Classical Playlist
The classical playlist was heavy on the Great German composers like Bach, Beethoven, & Mozart—particularly the piano concertos and sonatas as Edie was an accomplished pianist and she used music to distract herself when interned with the other American staff from the US embassy at Bad Nauheim.
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G – Bach
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major – Bach
- Violin Concerto No 2 in E – Bach
- Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major – Mozart
- Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major – Mozart
- Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major – Beethoven
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major – Beethoven
- Piano Sonatas No 1-11 – Beethoven
- Mad World – Gary Jules
- Glitter in the Air – Pink
- Like a Prayer – Madonna
- Lift Me Up – Christina Aguilera
- Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) – Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge & Rhianna
- Skyfall – Adele
- Wild Horses
- Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
- And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going – Jennifer Hudson
- Skinny Love – Bon Iver
- Where I Stood – Missy Higgins
- Someone Like You – Adele
- Only You – Sinead O’Connor
- Without You – David Guetta & Usher
- Invisible Ink – Aimee Mann
- The Other Side – David Gray
- Love is Everything – k.d. lang
- Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
To me its very telling, these playlists. While in Germany, Edie fell in love with a young Nazi officer. She was supposed to leave Germany once America declared war on Germany. But she didn’t. Which is why Edie’s playlist is filled with songs like Skyfall, Wild Horses, Not Ready to Make Nice, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going. These are songs of a strong woman, an independent woman, and that is who Edie was, and still is. She is very flawed, but fierce, which makes her the perfect foil for Ali who needs to find herself again.
At the beginning of It’s You, Ali McAdams is lost. She’s angry, empty, and confused. Her playlist is softer, evocative, filled with aching poignancy. Her playlist, with songs such as Someone Like You, Without You, The Other Side, and Love is Everything, reflect Ali’s love for Andrew, and her profound grief that he is gone.
I can’t speak for all writers, but I find playlists hugely helpful in the creative process. They allow the mind and imagination to go deeper, accessing ideas, words and images that I might not get if I wasn’t responding emotionally to music.
And Edie is the same. My wonderfully prickly 94 year old Edie Stephens would have never been herself without her music.
I think Edie sums it best in this diary entry from January 15, 1942: