Time for the “soundtrack” to my new novel. All of the following cuts or records are heard or discussed somewhere in the narrative. Here, then, is the playlist for The Double.
“Back Street Girl,” by The Rolling Stones
This track is part of a dialogue between lawyer Tom Petersen and Spero Lucas, which leads to a discussion of the album’s cover photo and a Stones vs. Beatles debate. “Back Street Girl” appeared only on the UK release of Between the Buttons, which included the lovely “She Smiled Sweetly” as well. Get it.
LKJ in Dub
I owned many albums by UK reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. His dub record, made with the Dennis Bovell band, might be his best. The horns are stellar.
The Big Gundown, Ennio Morricone (soundtrack)
Or, as it was known in Italy, La Resa Dei Conti. Spero Lucas’s father, Van Lucas, was a spaghetti western fan, and Sergio Solima’s epic from 1966 was at the top of his list. Mine, too. I put this up with Giu’ La Testa (Duck, You Sucker) as one of Morricone’s finest scores.
Arkology, by Lee Scratch Perry
This is the big boxed set, 52 tracks from the legendary producer and dub pioneer. Spark one up.
Soon Forward, by Gregory Isaacs
Lucas and his girlfriend, Charlotte Rivers, are into reggae and dub when they make love. This record, by the late Gregory Isaacs, is a nice example of how the Cool Ruler made the bedroom rock. Produced by Sly Dunbar, engineered by Sylvan Morris. Crucial.
“I Want You to Know,” by Jim Lauderdale
This Lauderdale cover of a Johnny Paycheck song is playing in a Southern Maryland bar as Billy King strikes up a conversation with a mark named Lois. From the extraordinary Paycheck tribute record, Touch My Heart, featuring pedal steel by Lloyd Green.
Pick-A-Dub, Keith Hudson
Is this, as it is claimed by many, to be the greatest dub record ever made? I’d put it on the high shelf with King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, for sure. Keith Hudson did have the ammunition: Aston and Carlton Barrett, Earl “China” Smith, Augustus Pablo, Horace Andy and others came together to create this landmark work. When Lucas puts this one on the box, his brother Leo knows the weed has been lit. Mind expanding.
“Heir Apparent,” Opeth
Reluctant gang member and ex-con Louis Smalls listen to progressive metal (Mastodon, Meshuggah) on his ear buds as the conflict rages around him. This song, from Opeth, is a nice representative track of the genre.
“Pray for Me,” Anthony Hamilton
Spero and Leo talk about this song over beers as it plays form the juke in a bar on Georgia Avenue. I try not to inject my personal music preferences into my novels, preferring to let the characters listen to what they want to, based on who they are. But here I gave a nod to Anthony Hamilton, my favorite R&B artist on the scene today. Anthony brings the spiritual and the secular together like no one since the Reverend Al. From the standout album, Back to Love.
“I Don’t Want to Go There,” by Dinosaur Jr.
“Most People are DJs,” by The Hold Steady
What to play in your car when you’re ripped and driving across town to spy on your married lover. By “you” I mean Spero Lucas.
“FireLake,” by Bob Seger
“Who’s gonna play those eights and aces?” The subject of another classic rock discussion by Petersen, who calls Bob “the authentic working man’s Springsteen.” I like the way “eights and aces” scans, the barrelhouse arrangement, and the mysterious imagery of this song. “You remember Uncle Joe/He was the one afraid to cut the cake.”
“Whiskey in the Jar,” traditional
“And some men like to hear a cannonball a roarin’.” The Spero Lucas character, summed up in one line. Among many others (including The Dubliners, Burl Ives, and The Grateful Dead), this song was covered by Metallica on Garage, but the Thin Lizzy version is timeless and the one to own.
Below the Bassline, by Ernest Ranglin
Elegant, classic, jazz-reggae fusion record from a master whose roots go back to the first ska wave. Highly recommended.