The world of Jamie August has a nearly continuous soundtrack. Not surprising, since my own memories of Ocean City are crowded with songs that might make me roll my eyes, but really, I love 'em. I should just cut the high-brow act.
Here's a big shout out to the excellent Alafair Burke, whose soundtrack for the recently released title, If You Were Here (a collection of some great 80s pop) inspired me to make this sountrack for Ocean City Lowdown.
I'd suggest that you listen to the soundtrack as you read my liner notes. It's on Spotify, and you may have to join to listen, but it's free (as is the streaming soundtrack.)
You Give Love a Bad Name, Bon Jovi – “Bon Jovi is the best American band since—well—since ever,” Jamie says. Her cell phone ring is “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Bon Jovi’s sound reminds me of walking on the Boardwalk as a teenager in the summertime, wearing a bikini and cut-offs, eating a bucket of salty, vinegary Thrasher’s Fries, and checking everybody out.
Jamie’s Cryin’, Van Halen – Jamie’s inadvertent foray into striptease is accompanied by Van Halen’s wry classic. Give this a new listen, and I’ll bet you can easily imagine Jamie’s spontaneous, smokin’ hot performance.
Little Deuce Coupe, The Beach Boys – This summertime classic was one of the songs played by Frankie and the Whalers at the big reception at the local Chevy dealership. It’s easy to picture this (fictitious) cover band, a group of middle-aged gents in Hawaiian shirts, some with thermals layered underneath, warming up their instruments next to a shiny blue Malibu on the showroom floor. It was fun to imagine a local car dealership’s extreme off-season marketing ploys, and to figure out how this scene would tie to the main action of the story. Oh, but it does.
Vogue, Madonna – Jamie describes a scene from her childhood: “I remember dancing to Madonna albums in the living room back in Dundalk with my sister Lindsey. She would close her eyes when she danced, probably attempting to block out the presence of her bratty little sister. I would mimic her voguing and jump out of the way as she blindly strutted across the floor, cheeks sucked in and hips swaying wildly.” Jamie channels her sister in a critical Ocean City Lowdown scene.
Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana – Jamie attempts to crank this raging guitar classic when she’s driving in a Chevy loaner car that’s about the size of a roller skate. It struck me as funny. The usually carless Jamie is thrilled to have a set of wheels for the day, but completely nonplussed at the cheap, tinny-sounding stereo. What sound could illustrate this better than Nirvana?
Livin’ on Borrowed Time, Puddle of Mudd – The title is apt for this one, another guitar rock favorite of Jamie’s. She’s got Puddle of Mudd cranked up loud late one night while she is working on her big newspaper article. If she had turned the stereo down a little, the story might have gone a whole lot differently.
You Can Leave Your Hat On, Joe Cocker – This was an obvious choice. What bikini contest would leave this one out? Plus, it really is a fun, sexy song!
I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor – The broken-hearted woman’s anthem. I like Cake’s version better, but when Jamie forces herself to sing this aloud while walking home alone in a snowstorm, I’m sure she’s thinking of the original.
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, Judas Priest – Another entry in the classic beach rock soundtrack from my youth. Classic rock has always been huge downy ocean, hon. When Jamie throws that line out, “They’ve got another thing coming, like the Judas Priest song says,” she’s not entirely joking.
Everybody Wants You, Billy Squier – Is it just me, or does every Maryland girl have Boardwalk memories playing in their head with a Billy Squier soundtrack? I can vividly remember his devilish chuckle near the end of the song, blaring from the sound system of one of the inlet carnival rides one hot summer night.
Summer Nights, John Travolta & Olivia Newton John – I was thinking of Bob Marley, but the book’s principal editor suggested that this was the song that Jamie hears drifting out of the apartment occupied by a family of cranky vacationers. Clearly he knows the material better than I do.
Wanted Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi – Can’t have too much Bon Jovi in the world of Jamie August. I mean, he’s seen a million faces, and he’s rocked ‘em all.
Putting this together was a blast! I hope you enjoy listening to The Official OCEAN CITY LOWDOWN Soundtrack as much I did making it.