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The Powell’s Playlist: Graham Joyce

The Powell's PlaylistThe Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is set on the English coast in the hot summer of 1976, so the music in this playlist is pretty much all from the '70s. The songs follow David's journey of innocence to experience, and on the way he solves a terrifying personal mystery.

1. "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry
This first song is a signature summertime sound of the period. It's easygoing, upbeat, and sort of naive almost to the point of being naff; but that's how David is when he starts out in this story.

2. "Low Rider" by War
David arrives at the holiday centre to find himself sharing a room with a doper. He lands a cool job as a Greencoat. You get to walk around looking pretty. What could be easier than being a Low Rider like that?

3. "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" by Joe Jackson
David meets the beautiful Terri. He can't believe that she's married to the scary gorilla Colin. Oh-oh, better stay well clear of that train wreck.

4. "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" by Kate Bush
David has his first encounter with a ghostly boy on the sandy beach. This song would have layers of meaning for David, which he is yet to realize.

5. "Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn't've)" by Buzzcocks
D'oh! David falls for Terri! He really shouldn't get mixed up with her! Not with scary Colin watching her every move! No, David! Don't! Oh!

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6. "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
But even Colin can't believe that would be possible. Instead he tries to recruit David to a nasty right-wing political group enjoying popularity in England at the time. They predict "rivers of blood" and race wars on the streets.

7. "Why Can't We Be Friends" by War
One of David's new friends and colleagues is mixed-race dancer Nikki. The racists don't seem happy with David's friendship. This other song by War says it all.

8. "Perfect Day" by Lou Reed
David and Nikki spend the ultimate perfect day together. He doesn't know it yet, but they are falling in love.

9. "Because the Night" by Patti Smith
David, still haunted by the boy on the beach, is not sleeping. He foolishly mixes sedatives with alcohol. After an extraordinary night, he wakes up next to Nikki.

10. "Song to the Siren" by This Mortal Coil
David finally solves the mystery of the ghost of the boy on the beach, but not before visiting the reluctant mystic Dot who reveals to him the secrets of his heart. The song I chose for this is actually an '80s piece, but it was composed much earlier by Tim Buckley, so I hope you'll let me get away with it. It is pregnant with weirdness, mysticism, and revelation.

11. "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" by Fairport Convention
The haunting is over. It's time to move on. The summer season is over, too, and this is a great moving-on song, plus the chance to listen to the gorgeous voice of Sandy Denny.

12. "Ooh Child" by Richie Havens
But it hasn't all been for nothing! Though David has been through the fire, David and Nikki have a future together, and from now on things are going to get better.

Thanks for listening!

÷ ÷ ÷

Graham Joyce, a winner of the O. Henry Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award, lives in Leicester, England, with his family. His books include The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit, Some Kind of Fairy Tale, The Silent Land, Smoking Poppy, Indigo (a New York Times Notable Book of 2000), The Tooth Fairy, and Requiem, among others.

Books mentioned in this post

Graham Joyce is the author of The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

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