When I was a kid (showing my age here), I used to love mix tapes. And if you were given a mix tape by a friend – or even better, a crush – that was the ultimate compliment. It showed they thought about all the songs you might like, that they like too. It says, “This is the soundtrack to our relationship.” Sigh…
Fast-forward to today, and I love that there’s a new way to collect music – for people, and for purposes. Spotify is the streaming platform I use and I love the playlist function. And no, this isn’t sponsored content – although, if Spotify is interested… 😉
I have been excited to create a playlist for The Love of My Other Life, which – in my head, at least – has so much music in. Josie is a singer in a pop choir, Rob is a skilled jazz pianist, Peter plays guitar in a funk band and also sings – the list goes on. To me, there’s a distinct soundtrack to this book, just like it was a movie.
So, here’s my Spotify playlist for The Love of My Other Life. It’s in approximate order of where each song’s theme appears in the story, and below I’ve set out the full list and the thinking behind each choice – bear with me! It’s pretty jazz heavy, just to warn you…
Also, the explanations below include SPOILERS for the ongoing plot of the book, once you get past Track 7-ish. So if you haven’t read the book yet, do that first and check out this post later!
- Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. A no-brainer – this is the New York scene-setter, and probably my favourite of many New York-themed songs. Frankly, I could have put six more in (Native New Yorker, anybody? The Moon and New York City? And of course, New York State of Mind. Come on…)
- Someone To Watch Over Me – by George Gershwin, the piano version. This is what Rob is playing on the piano in the den when Josie interrupts him.
- Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. This is the first time Rob and Josie dance, at the company holiday party. Plus it’s the best festive tune of all time. Facts.
- Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton. Hans performs this in a flapper dress at his and Mike’s New Year’s Eve party – and yes, that moment is a direct reference to Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which also has a killer soundtrack.
- Make You Feel My Love – Adele. To me, this speaks to the pain Rob must have at his wife Josie not knowing him.
- I’ve Got a Crush On You – Stacey Kent. A jazz number that for me is all about Josie developing feelings for her new instant husband.
- Lover Man – Sarah Vaughn. This is the song that the jazz singer at their Valentine party is singing when Josie and Rob are slow dancing and she has a revelation.
- Hold You in My Arms – Ray LaMontagne. I imagine this as being the song played in the cabin on Orcas Island the weekend Josie and Rob spend there together, when they’re drinking wine after their fancy meal.
- Like a Star – Corinne Bailey Rae. I love that this song has a lyric about this being the turning point in a relationship, and also likens love and passion to a starry sky. The moment this song accompanies (my favourite scene in the entire book) also talks about universes, so it seems apt.
- This Girl – Kungs Vs. Cooking on Three Burners. We’ve switched from Manhattan to Brooklyn Josie. I love this track with a fierce intensity, and there’s something about it that makes me think of being a single, awesome, loving-life woman in Brooklyn.
- In Common – Alicia Keys. Oh, so many reasons this song is in this list. Mainly because it was my personal soundtrack for my visit to New York in 2016 that informed so much of this book, which was also the weekend I started a relationship with a man who ended up forming much of the inspiration for Peter. Plus the track is about a slightly dysfunctional relationship, which is perfect for both me and that guy, as well as for Josie and Peter.
- Like I’m Gonna Lose You – Megan Trainor and John Legend. Back in Manhattan with Josie and Rob, as Josie tries to grapple with her marriage and being utterly in love, but feeling like an impostor.
- Can’t Sleep Love – Pentatonix. In many ways the main track for the “movie” of this book, it’s the song that Josie and Peter are singing together, which also sparks a huge row with her and Rob. But as discussed in the novel, to Josie, the song is all about her insomnia, exhaustion, and inability to be happy in her new life, while still being very much in love with her husband. My preferred version of this tune (and the one she and Peter would have been singing the arrangement of) is the Clark Beckham/Ben Platt collab, but it’s not on Spotify – check it out on YouTube.
- Call Out My Name – The Weeknd. This could apply to either of the love stories in either Josie’s timelines, as each relationship gradually crumbles yet remains on fire. Plus this song is just so damn sexy.
- Why Can’t There Be Love – Dee Edwards. I first Shazamed this old-skool tune as it accompanied a TV advert, which showed a Brooklyn rooftop party – I thought it was so frikkin’ cool. So this song speaks to me of Brooklyn, funk (which Peter plays), and the literal meaning of the title lyrics.
- He Can Only Hold Her – the late, great Amy Winehouse. I never met an Amy W song I didn’t worship, and this one is so appropriate when we have two men who each love a woman desperately, and she’s slipping through their fingers.
- Almost Blue – the Diana Krall version, although there are many amazing arrangements of this standard. This is one of the best jazz songs about depression that I know. I originally considered both ‘Round Midnight and Mood Indigo for this list as well, which are two other incredible jazz tunes about depression. But Almost Blue does the same job, and goodness knows this playlist doesn’t need any more sultry jazz numbers.
- A Different Corner – the late, great George Michael. If you listen to the lyrics of this song, it’s essentially about what this book is about – paths not taken, and what would have happened had they been taken. I don’t know if George was thinking about the multiverse when he wrote it, but he was certainly thinking “what if?” – and that thought alone gives me full body chills. But maybe you need to have been a 90s teen to appreciate it.
- Gravity – Sara Bareilles. This is an exquisite song that talks about two people being pulled back together, time and again, no matter what, for better or worse. It speaks to the argument of whether Josie and Rob are “fated” – that they’d find each other in any life. (Is that true? Discuss…) The lyrics don’t exactly fit, as this song is sadder than my ending, but I really wanted the last line of this song to be the last lyric to this soundtrack. I’d quote it here, but they’re really finicky about not quoting song lyrics. So just play it, and weep.
Thanks for bearing with me, and happy listening.