I’ve long been a devotee of Flavorwire’s Literary Mixtapes. Every so often the clever folks over there “sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters” and provide their readership with a list and links. The character write-ups are pithy and thought provoking and the music is always interesting and often enjoyable. Some of my favorite mixes are:
Lyra Belacqua – “Here’s what we think Lyra would battle Mrs. Coulter, deceive Iofur Raknison, and read the alethiometer to.”
Harry Potter– “Here’s what we think Harry would be moping about, Wronski Feinting, and saving the world to.”
Ender Wiggin – “Here are the songs we think he’d calculate, strategize and defy gravity to.”
Earlier this year I was inspired to a couple of my own. The seed of that inspiration actually came not from “literature” per se but from a piece of Harry Potter fan fiction, albeit a very literary example of the type. Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation is the epic tale (as yet incomplete at 300,000 words – some of which I needed to look up) of what happened to Hermione after the war. Its complicated and dark, turning over all the rocks in the Potterverse and looking underneath them.
Perspective is nearly everything in fiction. Harry simply doesn’t pay attention to the complexities of the wizarding world the way Hermione does. So although wizarding world has authoritarian governments combated by underground resistant movements, rebel forces on the run, pirate radio stations and break ins at highly secure official installations, the seven Harry Potter books feel more like the story of one boy’s heroic brush with fate. Amends, told from Hermione’s perspective, is more complex and darkly nuanced and much more political. I spent most of September steeping myself in her combative, question-everything point of view and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the results is this trio of playlists based on three of the main characters in the Amends plot line.
Wandless Incencio: Here are the songs I think Hermione would be time turning, writing code and plotting to overthrow the Ministry of Magic to.
Worth Twelve: Here’s what Neville would be pining, planting and pacing the Lancashire moors to.
House Arrest: And these are the tracks Draco would be stunt flying, sulking and re-evaluating his place in the world to.
8tracks doesn’t allow its users to list the songs in each mix (something to do with the legality of making music available for free on the internet – like Pandora there has to be an element of randomness). But each of the songs on the mix was chosen for a specific reason and, if you care to, you can read the liner notes for Hermione’s playlist, “Wandless Incendio” after the jump. Warning: it contains some spoiler alerts for the Amends plot line so beware.
Wandless Incendio Liner Notes
Can’t Go Back Now – The Weepies
Sure it’s been a long time since anyone did anything for Hermione but I think she’s mourning her lost childhood at this point. It’s been so long. And now she’s even more isolated than ever before. She needs to take a lot of steps all by herself.
Anthem, Pt.2 – Blink 182
Sure this a little teenager and yell-y but Hermione is (among other things) a very angry teenager. And she is dealing with a mess she didn’t make. If the DA generation is fucked up – and they most certainly ARE – then the Ministry is to blame.
Gold Medal – The Donnas
All those purebloods kept putting her down, telling her ‘no’ and generally standing in her light but that only ever made her work harder. “I’m so sorry you never wanted me. But that’s how you made me want the gold medal.” She’ll get it, too.
Happier – Guster
She’s walking away from all of that now. They should count themselves lucky she’s doing what was done unto her.
Iko Iko – The Belle Stars
Hermione is a child of the 80’s even more than I am and I think she would have been conversant with the pop music of the day – especially in her early years at Hogwarts. I like both its actual backstory – about conflicting Mardi Gras Parade teams – and the reference to grandmothers (another reminder for her that everyone knows everyone in the wizarding world).
Tell Your Story Walking – Deb Talan
This one is for her new role as Recording Angel of the War Crimes Commission. ‘Tell it to the judge,’ indeed.
Reason Why – Rachael Yamagata
Maybe she’s not sad about Ron qua boyfriend, but she is sad about the whole situation – leaving the burrow, losing that whole adoptive family and Harry by proxy as well. And she’s lost without her place in the trio – she’s been defining herself against Harry and Ron for so many years. As difficult as everything was for them during the war it feels nostalgically long ago at this point.
It’s Gonna Be – Norah Jones
I like both the sentiment and the lyrics here.
Nine in the Afternoon – Panic! At the Disco
Stage direction: Enter the timeturner. “Losing the feeling of feeling unique,” indeed!
Three Ways – The Wallflowers
At this point Hermione is pretty much choosing the hardest way to do everything in her life and feeling not a little nihilistic to boot. making this the perfect atmospheric combo. Burn it to the ground and walk away … real slow.
Suicide Blonde – The Weepies
This song is about identity crisis. It’s about simultaneously being the one that everyone wants to be or be with. And (spoiler alert) it’s about dyeing your hair Malfoy blonde.
Take What You Take – Lily Allen
Hermione is so sick of other peoples platitudinous advice. I think this song resonates perfectly. Also it has great word play which I think she would appreciate.
Pumpkin Soup – Kate Nash
This is not about smart choices – this is about being fed up with the situation and acting accordingly and breaking out of pre-established roles. How will this work out? “I hope you don’t think I’m unkind … I just want your kiss, boy.” She’s not looking for anything serious here folks – but for a girl who’s middle name is “serious” it’s a bit hard not to get more involved than she means to. Uh oh.
Break the Sky – The Hush Sound
And after Pumpkin Soup she needs to reassure herself that she is a totally independent individual with no connections to anyone. She’ll do it all on her own, thank you. This is the ultimate Get up and Go song – guaranteed to make you run faster, work harder and smile under nearly any circumstances. Hermione needs a long like this in her arsenal.
Sins of My Youth – Neon Trees
‘Hot like a smoking gun,’ no one has more dangerous habits than Hermione Granger at this point. And she certainly does ‘do it on designer drugs,’ folks. Now she really wants to know “Would you love me still?” It’s an urgent question – will he love her still?
Ballad of Mona Lisa – Panic! At the Disco
The sins you paid for, indeed. This is a bit Neville’s answer as well. I think he’s impressed and horrified as he watches Hermione set the world on fire. And as much as he’s paying attention, he doesn’t even know she’s got a time turner – in his defense he probably never knew she’d ever had one and so wouldn’t be in a position to suspect.
Manifest Destiny – Guster
This is such a great Neville and Hermione song. It’s not what they would do of course; neither of them is willing to shirk their responsibilities like that, but this is their dream – to just walk away from it all. They would love to build a town and then secede. Also “the Moon and Stars are ganging up on the Sun – rebellion.” Indeed.
Invincible – Ok Go
I think everyone who loves Hermione would agree that she can be a little bit scary. Her idea of a compliment is “earthly embodiment of the furies” and she means business. The ministry will have to deal with her first indeed. Neville could have told them what happens to people who stand in her way if they’d only asked him. As it I think they may find themselves lying stiff-as-a-board on the floor of the common room as she walks over them and goes about her business.
Us – Regina Spektor
Hermione (and co) are all too aware that everyone is ready to build a statue to them and later say it’s all their fault. And the wizarding community certainly does seem like living in a den of thieves.