When I was writing Feels Like the First Time, I had the idea to lead off each chapter with a quote from a song I had been listening to as the events I was writing about had transpired. Luckily, before I released it, I did a little research into copyright laws and saved myself a lot of headaches down the road. I learned that it was improper to quote even a few words of a song in a book without permission of the rights holder. Since I didn't want to have to seek out several dozen people that probably wouldn't grant me the rights anyway, I did away with that plan. In digging a little deeper, though, I discovered that for the most part, titles are not subject to copyright. That led me to switch out the lyrics I had originally chosen for titles of songs that I hoped would be evocative of the era. I detailed the songs I chose for that book here and here.
     When I began to write Both Sides Now I had to decide whether I would use the same technique or not. My first instinct was to not do it. This new book was Dawn's not mine, and I wanted it to stand on its own. But, the more we talked about it as we were finishing writing the book, the more Dawn wanted to put her own spin on the concept. In the end, she picked out several dozen songs that represented how she was thinking and feeling at the time. Now, just for fun, I thought we'd go over the songs we chose and why we picked them. Every song title is a link to a YouTube video for the song. 

Chapter One - Just When I Needed You Most - Randy Van Warmer  As I tend to do, I started this book at an emotionally devastating point. In my own book, it was the moment I said good-bye to Dawn for three decades. In this book, it was the moment Dawn sat, alone and afraid in the doctor's office, not knowing what was next. Of all the song titles she picked, this one probably came the easiest. 

Chapter Two - Never Going Back Again - Fleetwood Mac   This marked the true beginning of the book, and the title of the song very much reflected where Dawn's head was at in December, 2006. Lyrically, this is such a simple song (although the guitar is anything but simple) but the lyrics Been down one time/Been down two times/I'm never going back again did highlight her determination to look forward instead of back. 

Chapter Three - Oh, Very Young - Cat Stevens    First, Dawn and I both love Cat Stevens. Second, although this song came out in 1974, we absolutely would have still been hearing it on the radio in 1976, when this chapter is set. Cat Stevens was such a facile lyricist that his imagery (And though your dreams may toss and turn you now/They will vanish away like your daddy's best jeans/Fading up to the sky) perfectly captured the innocence that was the hallmark of this time of our lives.

Chapter Four - Wouldn't It Be Nice - The Beach Boys   Although Dawn and I loved to argue about music (and television and well, just about anything) the truth was, we were both into a lot of the same music: Three Dog Night, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and definitely The Beach Boys. She picked this song because she loves it and because it highlights the simple innocence of our lives then.

Chapter Five - Thank You for Being a Friend - Andrew Gold  Long before it was the theme song to The Golden Girls, this song was a Top 40 hit for Andrew Gold. Part of the reason that I've always believed Dawn and I had the relationship we did was just this - before anything else, we were friends. It was an unusual friendship - pretty younger girl and geeky older boy, but it worked. Above all else, we both knew we could count on the other to have each others backs. That's a pretty good place to start a relationship.

Chapter Six - Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton   (By the way, the version I linked is well worth checking out - a live, 9 minute version.) This is kind of an adult song and we definitely weren't adults yet in this chapter - I was 17 and Dawn was 14. Still... it's one of the greatest love songs ever written, and I was in love with her, even if I hadn't admitted it yet, even to myself. And, of course, she did look wonderful that night. Shet  always did, and always does.

Chapter Seven - Love is in the Air - John Paul Young   There are a few songs that I only need to hear two or three bars of and I am immediately transported back to 1978. This is absolutely one. Dawn chose this song for this chapter because it covered a time before we admitted our feeling for each other, but the world felt like it encompassed such limitless possibilities.By early 1978, I had come to grips with the fact that I loved Dawn. I think she loved me by then as well, but hadn't admitted it to anyone, including herself.

Chapter Eight - You Should be Dancing - The Bee Gees   It was the late 70s, so there had to be at least one disco song on the list, right? Dawn and I spent much of the spring of 1978 on the dance floor and much of that time was spent dancing to the brothers Gibb. Disco may have been uncool. We didn't care. We just wanted to dance and spend time together.

Chapter Nine - Always and Forever - Heatwave   One of only two songs that were used as chapter headings in both books, and it was because we both couldn't conceive of any other song fitting those two chapters. The theme of our prom, the theme of many happy hours together, we both came to dislike this song over the following decades. It brought us back to what were ultimately unhappy memories. Finding each other again healed that, and it is happily forever in rotation again.

Chapter Ten - I Just Wanna Stop - Gino Vanelli   Gino is an odd choice to have two songs on the list, but he does, because they fit so perfectly. Dawn says she picked this song because everything felt so perfect for us during this time, and if she could pick a moment to just stop time forever, this would have been a good choice.

Chapter Eleven - Magnet and Steel - Walter Egan   You might think that after devoting two entire books to this one simple story, I might be all done with it. The truth is, I still have one project I want to add to the story and then it will feel fully complete to me. I won't release it until 2014, but the working title of the book is Magnet and Steel. It describes the effect that Dawn had on me, yes, but the lyrics describe Dawn herself: With you I'm not shy/to show the way I feel/With you I might try/my secrets to reveal.

Chapter Twelve - Every Time You Go Away - Paul Young   Dawn thinks this is one of the greatest songs ever, and I don't disagree. So soulful I knew it was the beginning of an epic career for Paul Young... until it wasn't. Still, this song conveys so perfectly how we felt when we were separated. Even though it came out after we were already separated, every time I heard it, I could only think of her, but then that was true of so many songs.

Next time around, I'll do the rest of the chapters. Thanks for hanging out with me!



sue keene
07/27/2013 6:23pm

Love your love story. Would be a great movie!


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    Shawn Inmon

    I am a writer, Realtor, KISS imitator and sales trainer. But, more than these, I am a husband, father, grandfather and caretaker of two chocolate Labs.

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