Chronic City: A Mixtape

Image by Will Amato

“By the time I found myself delivered to the lobby of Le Parker Meridien, I felt bullied, bruited about by staff and handlers, like David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, an incomprehensible film Perkus had weeks before insisted I watch, a treatise on luxuriant self-pity that now felt terrifically relevant” (page 188).

Here’s another book-mixtape, this one with songs culled from Jonathan Lethem‘s incredible new novel Chronic City. Lethem himself has posted a couple of playlists pertaining to the book but none feature Sandy Bull or Captain Beefheart or Crispy Ambulance or Souled America or any of the more obscure songs that made it into these pages. Oh well, that task is for obsessive music geeks. Music geek admission: I spent a couple of days trying to track down a song from Zeroville. Fred Mills ended up helping me out with that search. Thanks Fred!

With these book mixes, I always try to bring another audio theme into the track listing. This book is chock full of cultural references both real and imagined – the Criterion Collection, Gnuppets, Marlon Brando, Morrison Groom, Florian Ib, etc. I made a couple of inside jokes with SFX – I introduce the Richard Hell track with a cell phone ring (Richard Abneg’s ringtone is “Blank Generation”) and end-tagged the Sandy Bull track with this marvelous modem sample from freesound (Perkus Tooth is on dial up). But primarily I used audio snippets from The Man Who Fell To Earth for my song transitions. Yeah, it’s quite a reach. The movie is mentioned just once in passing but it seems like blowing up a reference like that for its audio goodies is just the thing Lethem’s artist/critic/stoner character Perkus Tooth would enjoy. So here ya go Perkus. Merry Christmas, wherever you are.


  1. ROLLING STONES – Miss You
  2. RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS – Blank Generation
  3. PETER BLEGVAD – (Something Else Is) Working Harder
  4. SANDY BULL – Carmina Burana Fantasy
  6. VAN MORRISON – Who Was That Masked Man
  7. SOULED AMERICA – Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends
  9. WARREN ZEVON – Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
  10. ROLLING STONES – Shattered


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