For those whose reaction to country music is as violently antipathetic as the one I have to Morris Dancing, I should point out that other sorts of music feature in the Tom Thorne novels. My own taste is somewhat broader than Thorne’s and I have enjoyed indulging it by incorporating music vastly different from the sort that gets played in his crappy old BMW or in his flat in Kentish Town.
In The Burning Girl, one of the main characters is a teenage girl recovering from a horrific incident that has left her with terrible facial scarring. She finds comfort in the music of The Smiths, particularly their classic album “The Queen Is Dead”. Morrissey’s lyrics touch her in a way that nothing else can, easing her through a painful adolescence and confirming that loneliness, isolation and the feeling of being different are not unique to her.
As a young man, staring out of rain-streaked windows into the dark and writing bad poetry, that album was hugely important to me too, and I was hugely pleased when Morrissey gave me permission to use a line from “Bigmouth Strikes Again” as the epigram to the book.
I’m not sure he’s read the book though…