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  • Mike Murphey

Section Roads soundtrack


Writing a book like Section Roads is not an entirely intellectual exercise.

In creating this book’s childhood scenes, I found myself reverting emotionally to that very tumultuous adolescent time of life, putting myself back in high school for days at a time. I’m sure my wife occasionally found me brooding as we sat outside of an evening and wondered where I was. She didn’t pry, but if she’d asked, I’d have probably said something like, “Shelby’s going out with Doug and it really pisses me off.”

The most important tool I found in reliving those emotions was music. Music has always been an enormous presence in my life, and I discovered the right songs could create memories so vivid I visualized them like scenes unfolding on a movie screen.

So many of us read books electronically now, maybe novels like Section Roads should be published with soundtracks. If I could do that, here are songs that go with this book.

Anyone who knows me could probably guess Gentle on My Mind would top the list. As much as I like Glen Campbell, though, I would choose the John Hartford version. Someday Soon also fits, sung by Suzy Boggus rather than Judy Collins. Judy does have a place here, though with Both Side Now. And maybe the best love song anyone ever wrote, Buddy Holly’s True Love Ways.

The Chad Mitchell Trio plays a more direct role in Section Roads in that I received permission to use segments of two selections I heard on their records during high school. On their Slightly Irreverent album, Chad Mitchell sings If I Gave You, then incorporates at the end the verse written by E.Y. Harburg which appears just after my book’s title page. (If you want to get the full effect of this little poem, listen to how Chad does it.) The second is Mike Kobluk’s version of Adios, Mi Corazon, a verse from which I quote during Shelby and Cullen’s visit to Old Mesilla near Las Cruces, New Mexico. That song is included on the trio’s Blowin’ In the Wind album.

Two songs are perfect fits for specific scenes. I was aware of one when I wrote the book and didn’t remember the other until recently. The first is A World of Our Own by the Seekers. The second is All I Know written by Jim Webb. Art Garfunkel is most often associated with this song, but my favorite rendition is a duet by Webb and Linda Ronstadt. This song could not have been scripted better for my favorite adult scene in Section Roads. If you read the book, listen to this song and see if you can pick out the scene it matches.

A song new to me that would have to be included is Fields of Gold sung by Eva Cassidy. Fabulous voice. Fabulous lyrics: “You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold …

Many other songs helped in the writing. The Water is Wide—I like the way The Seekers perform it. Roy Clark’s version of Yesterday When I Was Young. Happy Together, by The Turtles. Almost anything by The Lovin’ Spoonful, particularly You Didn’t Have to be So Nice. Jimmy Buffet and Come Monday. Herman’s Hermits’ Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing on My Mind as sung by The Chad Mitchell Trio. And, for a reason probably no one else could fathom, Something Stupid by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. But I’ll keep that to myself.

(All of these songs can be found on Spotify or YouTube.)

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