Thursday, May 28, 2009

Soundtrack Thursday with Kate Hardy

The Pink Heart Society columnist Kate Hardy is up today with her firest ever Soundtrack Thursday.

I’ve used music as inspiration and background for years. Back in the 90s, I even had a German translation with a blurb that included ‘mit Musik von Vivaldi und Bon Jovi’ – that still makes me smile! (It was ‘Bed of Roses’, since you ask. And I know certain Modern Heat authors will appreciate that one – won’t they, Kimberly Lang??

But it’s particularly appropriate for my current book, because...

Um. How do I put this? Well, it’s an office romance. But it’s one of my books, so of course there’s a twist. The office, um, involves these.

What exactly is this? It’s a Gondola switchback (a fairground ride dating from the late 1800s - this one is at Thursford in Norfolk, UK), and in the middle there’s a fairground organ. (This is important for a key scene in the book.)

What kind of tunes do these fairground organs play? Well, I dragged husband and kids off on several research trips to find out. (DH, looking puzzled: ‘Why do you want to go THERE?’ Kids, in chorus: ‘Dad, wake up. It’s for her new book.’) It was an excellent excuse to try out some vintage fairground rides and to chat to the ride operators about how the organs work – it seems that it’s a bit like a pianola. (Lightbulb went immediately in the back of my head. Oho. So I could have any tune I like?)

There are the obvious choices, such a medley from Mary Poppins or traditional English summer holiday tunes such as ‘Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside’.

But my book needs rather different songs to soundtrack it, because my heroine is a big fan of show tunes. This is partly inspired by my daughter, who’s in her school choir and has been practising at home for concerts. Some of them involved songs from Grease, so she asked me for the soundtrack and the DVD. And she loved them so much that I’ve ended up buying some of the musicals I remember watching with my mum when I was my daughter’s age. West Side Story, The King and I, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain. (Not to mention having a GREAT excuse for family nights out at the theatre…)

There’s really nothing like a musical. Especially ones with songs that stay in your head and you can sing to in the car – songs that cheer you up on rainy days, or sometimes are just a good excuse to bawl your eyes out when you’re really stressed. I’d normally reach for a romance novel by one of my favourite authors in those circumstances, but watching a musical can work just as well.

Sharing these songs and shows with my eight-year-old has been a real delight – even thirty-odd years later, they haven’t lost their magic for me, and it’s lovely to see her enjoying them as much as I did at that age: the glitzy bits, the beautiful tunes, and of course the love stories. And some of these, I know my mum saw with her mother; and then when she saw them with me no doubt she had the same bittersweet memories of sharing them with her own mother and wishing she was still around to share them with the next generation. In some respects, it puts a lump in my throat and makes me miss my mum terribly; but at the same time, it’s so comforting and heart-warming the same pleasure can echo down the generations. In twenty or thirty years’ time, maybe I’ll be sharing these same songs with my daughter and her daughter. (I might even have learned to play them on the piano by then with both hands, not just pick out the melody with the right hand…!)

So now enquiring minds (all right, Kate Nosey) would love to know: what’s your favourite musical or your favourite show tunes?

I’ve already mentioned some of mine, but the songs I begged my guitar teacher to help me arrange recently are My Favourite Things, Somewhere, and Hushabye Mountain. And that last one… I’m going to put a YouTube link here to one of the most beautiful versions I’ve ever heard, by Julian Lloyd Webber. It’s just gorgeous. Enjoy.

In the UK, you can still get the second in Kate’s To Tame a Playboy duo, Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion. In Australia Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh is out now; and in the US you can still get The Millionaire Boss's Reluctant Mistress (a Presents Extra reprint of the first in Kate’s Posh Docs trilogy, Her Celebrity Surgeon) or an early copy of Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh. They’re also available on the US and Aus Harlequin websites, and the UK Mills and Boon website.

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website and her blog


  1. You've already mentioned a lot of my favorites, but the two that I still enjoy watching with my mom are Flower Drum Song and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I think Flower Drum Song probably seemed exotic to my mom growing up in the midwestern U.S. suburbs and A Funny Thing appeals to her silly sense of humor.

  2. I'm a great fan of those old Doris Day/Gordon McCrae musicals -- anyone remember On Moonlight Bay? But the one we always sing in our house when we're being mad is "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game. "There is a dark, secluded place/A place where no one knows your face...

  3. My favourite musicals growing up were Guys and Dolls, 1776, Bye Bye Birdie and Gigi.

    I loved going to see WIcked with my daughter a few years ago. It was fantastic to see a West End production. We are going to see Mamma Mia when it comes to Newcastle later this year.

  4. Jill - I don't know either of those, so thanks for the recommendation - will have to look them out!

    (and how funny that my word verification is emedlyz - electronic medley here, all right!)

  5. Liz - ooh yes, I love the Doris Day/Rock Hudson ones. Pillow Talk was great.

  6. Michelle, I haven't heard of 1776 or Bye Bye Birdie, so thanks for the recs. Enjoy Mamma Mia (that would be on my daughter's list if that comes to Norwich).

    I can hardly wait until August for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

  7. I will admit now that I am not a big musical fan. But I do love any Gene Kelly film, Gigi and Yankee Doodle Dandy (does that count as a muscial?? I know Jimmy Cagney sings in it). Oh and I do love the musical episode from Buffy. What can I say... I'm a heathen.

  8. Ah Kate, don't get me started on musicals, I could go on forever.

    My mum is a huge fan (we even tried to get tickets for the MGM Musicals prom this year at the Royal Albert Hall but didn't get them, darn it).

    Some of my favourites include West Side Story (but the film was a bit of a let down frankly...), Guys and Dolls, The Pyjama Game (Doris Day, yippee), Calamity Jane (Doris again and this time with Howard Keel) but my absolute fave is Kiss Me Kate. Just something about that hilarious Shakespeare conceit, the glorious Cole Porter songs and Howard Keel's muscular thighs in stripey tights...

    I should add that I absolutely hate Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals... Sorry, just don't get it. My aunt was a dresser on the West End production of Evita so I saw it twice from the wings which was fabulous, but I still didn't think much of the songs...

    Oh and I loved The Lion King.

    Well, you asked!!

  9. Did I hear my name and Jon's in the same sentence? :-)

    I LOVE musicals! I really love the Disney musicals too -- Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King. Grease, of course. (But not High School Musical, no matter how much my child and sister-in-law try!)

    Can I also put in a big shout out for the Buffy Musical episode?! Wonderful.

  10. My favourite film musical is 'Good News' with June Alyson and my favourite stage one is 'Salad days'. I only realised recently that they both deal with college/university, which was one of the happiest periods of my life. My mother took me to see 'Salad Days' when I was about your daughter's age, and it's still one of my most magical memories. It's not staged very often, unfortunately, but I'd love to take my daughter to it some day.

  11. My all time favorite is Camelot! Robert Goulet, Richard Harris and Julie Andrews. Also loved RENT! AND Phantom of the Opera!! I listen to these soundtracks all the time!

    I've seen: Grease, A Chorus Line, Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, West Side Story, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Zorba the Greek, and Evita.

    We had Somewhere from West Side Story in our wedding! Also love One Hand One Heart!
    South Pacific's Younger Than Springtime is beautiful along with Some Enchanted Evening.

  12. South Pacific - in particular the dvd with Harry Connick Jr. and Glenn Close. His version of "You've got to be Taught" is haunting.

    When my girls were little, I used to rock and sing. Faves were Edelweiss, and Something Good from The Sound of Music, and Count Your Blessings from White Christmas.

    I also loved working stage crew for Hello Dolly and I adore Guys and Dolls and My Fair Lady.

  13. Biddy, you're missing out. Musical, popcorn and lots of girly singing!

  14. Heidi, there's a Musicals Prom? Ohhh. Lightbulb. (Best friend and daughter, methinks.)

    Cole Porter's songs are wonderful. Will earmark Kiss Me, Kate.

  15. Kimberly, you certainly did :o)

    Agreed on the Disney ones (The Little Mermaid has one of my favourites of all times, so I was up for buying her the Disney Princess songs CD as a tiny tot). HSM seems to have passed us by, though.

  16. Alison - thanks for the rec. I remember classmates doing Salad Days when I was at school (I wasn't into drama club - dabbled a bit with directing the little ones when I was in sixth form, but I spent my spare time writing). Haven't seen a stage version advertised for years, though.

  17. Laurie - wow, what a wonderful list. Beautiful songs you've mentioned.

    (Youngest is singing a West Side Story medley as I type. To the dog!)

  18. Donna - sounds like an interesting CD. I love his version of 'It Had To Be You' (When Harry Met Sally doesn't quite count as a musical, but it's in my all-time top three - the others being Amadeus and It's A Wonderful LIfe).

    Lovely songs again.

    Re South Pacific - I used "This Nearly Was Mine" in Breakfast at Giovanni's (aka In Bed With Her Italian Boss for the US version). Mind you, that was influenced by Lindsey Buckingham's stunning acoustic version on a solo album.