APRIL MIXTAPE by Lucy K. Shaw
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
If my first book, The Motion, was being made into a movie, it would be very expensive to make. It is set in five different countries. There are scenes at The British Museum, at Sylvia Plath’s house, in Central Park, in Brooklyn, in Queens, at an office building close to Toronto airport, in an apartment in the center of Paris, and outside of a courthouse in the suburbs of Berlin, to name just a few of the locations. If my book was being made into a movie, I would want for it to be directed by Meggie Green.
This playlist is basically how I envision the soundtrack to that movie. And I have based it off of a mix CD given to me by my uncle when I was about thirteen years old.
The mix CD had the words, ‘DIVERSE DIVAS’ written across it in permanent marker. And I don’t think it is unrealistic to say that it must have changed my life, because it featured really great songs by really, really great singers. I mean, I’m talking about Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday and Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin and so on… Just these incredibly powerful and distinct female voices.
So when I started putting this mixtape together to go with my book, I remembered that CD I used to listen to every day and I decided that it must be time to make a part two. Because I’m not 13 anymore. I’m 27. And nobody uses CD players.
This playlist follows the trajectory of the book, in a loose way. ‘The Motion’ is described as a ‘collection of short prose’ but there is, in my humble opinion, a narrative throughout. When I listen to these songs in this order, it feels like there is already a movie happening in my mind, because these are all recordings which have felt important to me while I was writing this book, which it seems I must have been doing over the course of the last twenty-seven years.
It’s all about love and time and distance. My life. This book. And I think so are these songs. That’s my intention.
I decided to let male artists feature on the tracks a couple of times (Kanye & Nas…) And there’s a Drake B-side right at the end which may or may not have had something to do with the concept for a lot of things. There’s really not much to say about that except that at some point, in my head, it all fell into place.
If my book was being made into a movie, I would want it to be directed by Meggie Green and I would want it to begin with the sweet yet robust yet completely luxurious voice of Dinah Washington. I would need it to feature an all-star cast of diverse divas.
1. TEACH ME TONIGHT — Dinah Washington
2. LIKE SMOKE — Amy Winehouse feat. Nas
3. DARK END OF THE STREET — Aretha Franklin
4. MOON INDIGO — Nina Simone
5. BBD — Azealia Banks
6. PERIPHERY — Fiona Apple
7. DIAMONDS REMIX — Rihanna feat. Kanye West
8. HOW HIGH THE MOON — Ella Fitzgerald
9. MOMENT 4 LIFE — Nicki Minaj feat. Drake
10. NO PRESSURE OVER CAPPUCCINO — Alanis Morissette
11. CASSANDRA — Emmy The Great
12. ABSENCE OF GOD — Rilo Kiley
13. MOODY’S MOOD FOR LOVE — Amy Winehouse
Can a mixtape have an encore? Because this one does.
14. FLAWLESS REMIX — Beyonce Knowles & Nicki Minaj
15. THE MOTION — Drake
16. YOU BELONG TO ME — Patsy Cline
— Lucy K. Shaw is the author of The Motion (421 Atlanta, 2015) and the founding editor of Shabby Doll House. She lives in Berlin.