A Time of Torment- John Connolly: Charlie Parker’s Music

All this week, Liz from LizLovesBooks has been running a feature on John Connolly and his series of books featuring Charlie Parker.
The features have appeared here:

The Mythology of Charlie Parker at LizLovesBooks

Anti- Heroes at Northern Crime

Creating The Villains at Grab This Book

Charlie Parker’s World at espresso coco

I am delighted to welcome them both to my blog today.

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Q/A – Charlie Parker’s world through music.

Can you talk a little about what made you name your main protagonist after a famous musician and how that feeds into the stories?

If I remember correctly – and it does seem like a very long time ago – it was the nickname that attracted me. Parker was known as “Bird”, and there was something about a man like Charlie Parker (the PI version) having a nickname associated with flight, and perhaps spirituality, while being so earthbound and mired in mortality. But as the books progressed, “Bird” came to be used less and less in association with him, and that was very deliberate. I didn’t want people to think it was a gimmick, and now I actually wince a little when writers or journalists refer to him as Charlie “Bird” Parker. In my mind, that’s the musician, while Parker is just, well, Parker.

There’s maybe also a small in-joke in that Parker ends up accidentally named after a jazz musician, as it’s made clear in the books that his parents didn’t listen to jazz at all. Also, Parker doesn’t really listen to jazz. I do – a little – but I always wonder a bit at the number of detective characters who seem to listen only to jazz and blues. Does nobody listen to the music of the eighties apart from me?

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You can read more about Charlie Parker on the website

Charlie Parker

Music obviously inspires you – the CD’s that come with the occasional special edition are full of gorgeous tone and atmospheric sense – how do you discover the artists that DO inspire?

Gosh, often by accident. It’s funny, but in terms of books and music I find myself going back, not forward. I do listen to new artists, just as I read new writers, but I’m very conscious of the gaps in my knowledge of both books and music; it may be a function of my age. I’m reading a lot of classics, and less in my own genre, as I think, or hope, that I’m pretty familiar with it by now. As for music, ABC to XTC, the weekly radio show that I host, focuses on the late seventies to the mid-eighties, which is the era of my teens. I thought I knew a lot about the music of the period, but the deeper I delve, the more I realize that I actually missed a great deal. It’s become a very pleasurable process of musical excavation.

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image    XTC

When it comes to the music on the Parker CDs, though, it’s often lyrical touches that catch my attention, and then it’s mood. Actually – and you’re the first person to be told this – I’m just putting the finishing touches to a limited edition (a long one!) that has music as its primary focus, using the songs on the CDs as a starting point for discussions of the novels, or writing, or sometimes simply the artists themselves. We’ll be giving people information about that at the end of April. So there: an exclusive!

If the books were to be turned into a show for television (if wishing made it so) which one piece of music or song would you imagine as the title sequence ran?

Gosh, that’s a hard one to answer! I suspect that I’d just leave it up to those involved. After all, I don’t think anyone would immediately have associated The Handsome Family with a detective drama until True Detective used their music – although they’ve always had a pronounced gothic streak.
One track that I never tried to license, even though it was hugely influential on Every Dead Thing, is Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails. It has one use of the f-word, and I always try to be careful about that with the CDs, as stores sometimes like to play them over their PA systems. But the mood of that song might be appropriate.

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You can read more about Nine Inch Nails on their website

Nine Inch Nails

That question is going to bother me now: I’ll end up obsessively going through the CDs on my shelf.

You can read more about John Connolly on his website

John Connolly

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