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Issue Sixty-Five — The Playlist

September 16, 2019

Crows and Quinces (What is that Crimson?) by Christina McPhee

Looking for a soundtrack while you read the new stories in Issue 65? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Here is the playlist for Issue 65.

Read more about why our authors chose their songs:


Leslie Walker Trahan, “Exposure” – “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs

I couldn’t resist choosing this song to complement my story. It is creepy but fun, it’s based on a fairy tale, and it’s directed toward a girl who is clearly being forced to grow up too fast. And—yes—there is a wolf howl. 

Emily Flamm, “This Woman Is the Only Woman” – “God” by Tori Amos

The song sits right up there on the story’s nose, how could I not choose it? It’s the heavenly sound of God being admonished by a woman who is a god herself.

Annie Lampman, “Stormy’s Port and Polish” – “Woman” by Wolfmother

This song captures, both in lyrics and in style/composition, the mood and tone of “Stormy’s Port and Polish,” which I think of as a “woman’s power” kind of story, and this musical selection as a “woman’s power” kind of song that speaks to the story’s deeper themes. The song reflects many components of the story, including the main character Stormy herself, the story’s setting, and the secondary characters–Stormy’s customers.

Amber Sparks, “Everything is Terrible but You Should Read This Story” – “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey

The story, despite its attempts at utopia, feels to me heavy, obsessive, and full of dread – just like PJ’s marvelous song.

Hadiyyah Kuma, “Mortality Event” – “Spring Day” by BTS

BTS is mentioned in the story and plays an integral in the pigeon’s understanding of pop-culture and the body it inhabits. “Spring Day” is one of BTS’ more poignant songs, focusing on the connection between people and using weather as a catalyst for emotion, which I think is something very human.

Johanna Robinson, “Marks” – “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

The song I associate with my story, “Marks” is Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” I chose this one because it addresses the complications and questions arising from the entwined paths shared by a mother and her child over the years. It’s also about finding a way through, I think, finding one’s own path again.

Tania Hershman, “Understanding the Bloom Cycle of Roses” – “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt

Kate Finegan, “Kudzu” – “Pearl Bryan” by Bruce Buckley

This is the song that inspired the piece, and it’s just one example of a murder ballad. I find these ballads fascinating in how they characterize villains and victims. They demonstrate an American obsession with studying others’ fate so that the listener can avoid suffering the same.

Shannon McLeod, “Human Song” – “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles

In my story, “Human Song,” the narrator sings to a snail, attempting to coax it from its shell during a seaside trip where she’s trying to bring her relationship back to life. I imagined the narrator singing “Octopus’s Garden,” which I think embodies the same hopeful naivety of the narrator.

Jayne S. Wilson, “Earthquake Girls” – “Warrior” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I listened to this song almost exclusively while putting the pieces of Leni’s story together. The slight sing-song quality that dissolves into a full-on rampage; the line, “The road’s gonna end on me” that could mean either the speaker will run out of ground to stand on, or that she herself will serve as the end of the road, or both; it all serves as the perfect thesis statement for who Leni is at her core.

Benjamin Woodard, “Bare” – “Marley Pert Drive” by the Bee Gees

Margie Sarsfield, “Flush” – “The Universe is Going to Catch You” by The Antlers

The fact that we don’t know if the universe catching you is a good or bad thing feels fitting for my narrator, who is both running away from something and falling through everything.

Amy Stuber, “Happy, Happy, Happy” – “(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads

I love how this song is happy and sad and dark and light at the same time and, for me at least, is very much about being okay with the passage of time and what it brings, which is cynical, and I was going for that a little bit, too. Not sure I got there, but there was definitely an attempt.

Martha Witt, “My Father’s Soul” – “Don’t Take Your Love from Me” by Coleman Hawkins

Amy Rossi, “Friday Night at Debra Jo’s Phone Sex Emporium” – “Breakdown” by Guns N’ Roses

Maybe it would surprise you that GNR wrote and recorded a 7-minute opus about empathy and what we owe each other. Maybe it wouldn’t. At any rate, I think it fits this story and where Sylvie is in her life and mind. The final verse is about as ideal a meditation on loneliness, depression, sex, and falling into old patterns as I’ve ever heard – and then it’s undone by this weird recitation of a monologue from the film Vanishing Point. Nothing is perfect.


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The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. The long- and shortlists have been published on the blog. The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.