Margaret and Hal, Part Two

Sometimes, even if a novel is set in a different era, I find making a modern playlist helps me focus on the characters and who they are as individuals, as well as creating a feel for a certain scene, or in their relationship overall. So, while I have an era-appropriate playlist for A Scandalous Reputation, I also have one that’s more of a soundtrack with current(ish) music as well.

Hal and Margaret have a number of personal fears to face as they fall in love, and that is reflected in the songs that found their way into the novel’s soundtrack.

    1. Love You More—The Pierces

Oh, the barely-contained emotions in this one! There’s pain and a layer of anger and raw yearning and- This song has such an incredible build, both in the vocals and the music as well as the lyrics, make of that what you will in context with this WIP….

2. If I Fell (Beatles cover)—Adrian Belew

Ah, all of the vulnerabilities when you’re on the verge of opening your heart. As much as I love the Beatles’ version, it’s too familiar. (The Smithereens have a great version too, but it’s got too much grit for this particular playlist.) Adrian Belew’s voice is just insubstantial enough, but grounded by the harmonies, in this dreamy-but-spare arrangement.

    3. Love Somebody—Robbie Williams

There’s a vacillation in these lyrics that communicates the powers, control, helplessness, autonomy, and poignancy of loving… especially when you’ve loved and been hurt before. I love the emphasis on the word “trying,” and it fits with both Hal and Margaret, and the back-and-forth they battle individually, resisting love out of fear until they can’t anymore.

In particular, this made me think of their specific love story:


The blind leading the blind, Lord

Getting underneath your skin

I can feel you in the silence

Saying let forever be

Love, only love, will set you free


  4. Someday You Will Be Loved—Death Cab for Cutie

The “it gets better” anthem for each of them.

    5. Leave a Light On—Duran Duran

Trust. It has to be earned. It doesn’t just happen, especially not on demand. This is when that point comes that you know the other person will come back, and you can live as whole individuals, too, trusting in each other. LeBon’s delivery on “I’m not alone, oh, oh, oh-h-h” is stunning, and with it, it’s not difficult to picture either Margaret or Hal waiting for the other, looking out Blackstone House’s window, or standing in a misty dusk by Little Hadrian’s Wall, in anticipation of being together again, but certain that they aren’t ever completely separated.

  6. The Consequences of Falling—k.d. Lang

This is more or less their unofficial theme song, the almost agonizing “Maybe… no… yes… I can’t.” Plus, k.d. hits Judy Garland/Karen Carpenter levels of vulnerability, vocally, in this song.

    7. Dedicate (a place for me)—Vast

Spare, tender, evocative, lyrical. If Hal was a contemporary twentysomething, or if A Scandalous Reputation were a film set today, this would totally be the time where Hal just lies on his bed, on his back, headphones on, staring at the ceiling as this song plays on repeat.

  8. The Kingdom—Icehouse


And she’s not a movie star, no

And she’s not a beauty queen

She’ll tell you it doesn’t matter

’cause she’s not the only one

She says,

“I know a place

Where I keep the best of things

I’m not gonna wait

For my piece of heaven.

Where there’s a road

It leads to the promised land

I just turn the key

The key to the Kingdom”

This is also the key to Margaret. After being shown by her family and society from early childhood on that she was out of step with what they valued, she finally realized she could create her own kingdom.

    9. Something for Myself—Dark Dark Dark

So simple. So emotional.

   10. Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen cover)—The Civil Wars

Not that Cohen’s version isn’t sublime, but there’s a lightness to the Civil Wars’ version that I thought fit better with Hal and Margaret.


If you’d like to listen, check out the tunes here:

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