Since I was a five-year-old kid lost in the thoughts in his head, there’s been a song playing in the back of my mind. I wish I could say music helps me make sense of life, but despite the forty-two issues of Spin magazine stacked in my closet and a dresser-full of cassette tapes pirated from the library, the best I can say is music helps me get through life.

     – Sam "Bags" Bagliarello, from A Reason to Run

My life has played to a soundtrack of the music around me since my earliest memories. I can picture Mom cleaning the house when I was a kid in the 1970s. Carly Simon played on the console record player the size of a coffin in our wood-panelled basement in LaGrange Park. And I shivered through many cold winter mornings at our tiny kitchen table waiting for the car to warm up with a sad song by The Carpenters piping through the radio on top of the fridge.

I don’t remember the days or the words of my childhood, but I remember the images. At least the images that had a song playing in the background when they happened.

So, when I wrote a book about a seventeen-year-old kid navigating the roller coaster of emotions and (fictional) experiences that are senior year of high school, how could I not include the music from my teenage years as I mined my own high school memories for material? 

I’ve had plenty of writers with all the right credentials warn me about stuffing a book with music references, and I’ve taken their advice. Up to a point. I dropped the most obscure bands and songs, and those that remain play a role in the message or scene in which they appear. I’ve also cut the overall number of song and band mentions to avoid pulling the reader away from the story. I think the end result is I've left enough of a soundtrack in the book to enhance the mood, time and place of the words printed on the page. 

With that’s the playlist from A Reason to Run. Only a fraction of these songs and band references remain in the final draft of the book. Regardless, the playlist is a great selection of the music that influenced my life as a teenager and makes for a great accompaniment to reading the book (which I hope you'll consider purchasing).  

Enjoy the tunes and let me know your thoughts by email

– Mike