This lazy summer day, for me, brings to mind a moment in my novel Unforgivable Love when Val Jackson, enjoying after-dinner cocktails with Elizabeth Townsend and his Aunt Rose, puts on a record he’s purchased for his aunt. It’s a new song by Ella Fitzgerald called “A Sunday Kind of Love” and Val is using it as an opening move in the hot weather game he’s just begun.
When I embarked on the adventure of creating Unforgivable Love, I knew I wanted to write a story where money obviously wasn’t an issue, and to have it take place in settings I wanted to spend time in: lush gardens, large gorgeous rooms filled with sumptuous jazz music. I liked having the sounds of Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and Ella Fitzgerald flowing through the book’s pages. I wanted to relate a vision of elegance, of well-dressed people strolling down the street or through a park. In the coming weeks as we near the publication of the novel I will introduce you to the elements that served as both inspiration and the building blocks that make up the world of Unforgivable Love. When you have the book in your hands come September, I hope you’ll feel as at home as I did during the time I spent with the characters who live there.
Let’s start with the music.
When you listen to this music you’ll soon notice I favor a lush jazz sound, full of bright trumpets and sexy, intoxicating saxophones. I consider it the baseline soundtrack of the book, the music running like an underground spring through my mind as I wrote. As noted, some of these songs appear in the book and have direct story implications. Others served as pure inspiration and a few are songs favored by my characters based on influences on them.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts after listening to the playlist. Feel free to come back to this page and comment. I’m happy to make additions to the list if you feel there’s a piece that absolutely has to be here. Have fun with it. Enjoy!
- A Sunday Kind of Love, Ella Fitzgerald (as referenced above.)
- Nature Boy, Nat King Cole (A song sung by the character of Sam in a nightclub scene.)
- Lady of the Lavender Mist, Duke Ellington (Mae Malveaux’s signature song at the nightclub.)
- Let the Good Times Roll, Louis Jordan (One of the songs played outdoors at Aunt Rose’s during an event.)
- Azure Te, Louis Jordan (This song isn’t in the book, but it served as inspiration for the novel’s scenes in Paris.)
- As Long As I Live, Lena Horne (Elizabeth finds herself humming this song.)
- Take the “A” Train, Duke Ellington (This and the following tunes by Ellington, Monk, Davis, and Parker, are indicative of the music of the time. To me it’s playing somewhere even if not directly mentioned.)
- I’m Just a Lucky So and So, Duke Ellington
- I’m Afraid (Of Loving You Too Much), Duke Ellington
- Satin Doll, Duke Ellington
- ‘Round Midnight, Thelonius Monk
- Donna Lee, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis
- Scrapple from the Apple, Charlie Parker
- Confirmation, Charlie Parker
- Zouzou: C’est lui, Josephine Baker (The younger Mae Malveaux is a fan of Baker so here are a couple of songs Mae would have listened to, possibly with her friend Alice.
- Jai deux amours, Josephine Baker
- Boo-Wah Boo-Wah, Cab Calloway (The tune being played by the jazz band in the Parisian club Tabou when Mae visits with a conquest.)