Monday, 5 February 2018

Soundtracks - Winterlong (The Time to Kill)

The book with two names.

I've written in another post about how Winterlong came to be retitled The Time to Kill for the UK market, so if you're interested in the background to that, you can read about it here.

The third book ties up some of the loose ends about Carter Blake's past, and follows him on a breakneck journey from coast to coast, using planes trains and automobiles, as he tries to stay one step away of a team of military-trained killers.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are opportunities for musical interludes.

Winterlong | Pixies

I've waited for you, Winterlong
You seem to be where I belong

The Neil Young original is great too, of course, but I heard the Pixies cover first, and when I think of this song I always hear it in Kim Deal's voice.

When I was editing The Killing Season, I was trying to come up with a cool, evocative codename for the special ops unit of which Carter Blake was once a member. Something like Jason Bourne's Treadstone, or even shady real-world mercenary outfit Blackwater. Two-word concatenations seem to be popular in both the real life and fictional list of such names.

Winterlong seemed perfect when I thought of it. It evokes the Cold War, and also sparked the idea for the opening scene of Winterlong, which takes place in the depths of a Siberian winter.

Bring it on Home to Me | Sam Cooke

My favourite song by one of my favourite singers. From the first time I heard it I thought it would work great in a quiet moment in a movie, perhaps with two characters dancing in a motel room while it rains outside. I decided to put it in my own movie. Carol and Blake listen to this the last time they're together before he's called back to the war.

Fortunate Son | Creedence Clearwater Revival

No one actually listens to this song in the book, but Blake makes a throwaway reference to the title in one of the Afghanistan chapters. It's a standard in Vietnam movies, and it was a subtle way of drawing a parallel between the two conflicts, each intractable for different reasons.

Love Song from Apache | Coleman Hawkins

Credit to Ian Rankin for making me aware of Hawkins. Blake finds an old CD of his in the car given to him by Special Agent Banner for the final leg of his cross-country quest. It's a brilliantly atmospheric instrumental jazz piece, from the 1954 Burt Lancaster western.

Mark Billingham talks about how much he loves the moments in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books where there's a lull in the action and it's just Harry, on his balcony listening to jazz while looking out at the city. This scene was a nod to that. A quiet interlude before all hell breaks loose in a snowy corner of upstate New York...

Next time: Eagles, Skynyrd and Swift in Don't Look For Me

Soundtracks blogs:

  • The Killing Season
  • The Samaritan
  • Winterlong / The Time to Kill
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