Ed Tarkington's Playlist for Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Ed Tarkington’s upcoming novel, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, spins a tender, smart, suspenseful story full of the music of the 1970s and all the emotional searching of the era. The book’s title itself comes from a Neil Young song, and so, here is Ed’s playlist of five essential albums to go with Only Love Can Break Your Heart.

Tarkington_LoveCanBreak_HC_jkt_rgb_HR_2MBAfter the Gold Rush by Neil Young
Early in my novel, Rocky, the narrator, and his brother Paul listen to this album in Paul’s bedroom to mask the sound of their parents fighting downstairs. “Don’t let it bring you down,” Neil sings. “It’s only castles burning.”

Blue by Joni Mitchell
Rocky’s first love is his brother’s girlfriend Leigh, whose long blond hair and troubled soul come straight out of the image of Joni Mitchell wishing for a river to skate away on.

The White Album by The Beatles
Rocky wouldn’t have his name without “Rocky Raccoon,” but the critical bit of sound on this album is the gibberish between “I’m So Tired” and “Blackbird,” which, when played backwards, becomes “Paul is dead, man, miss him, miss him.”

#1 Record by Big Star
Rocky tries to impress a girl in drama class with the classic teenage overture: a mix-tape. The slate of classics include one song by ill-fated cult heroes Big Star. The song “Thirteen” might be the best song ever written about young love and longing.

Tonight’s The Night by Neil Young
In Paul’s Chevy Nova, running headlong from one piece of trouble toward a bigger one, Paul tells Rocky to change the tape: ” ‘How ’bout a little Neil?’ . . . The wind whipped through the open windows. Tonight’s the night, yes it is.

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One comment

  1. This is so well done. I can’t wait to read the book!!!

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