Jean Thompson
Jean's Blog

The Characters' Favorite Songs

Originally appeared on the Largehearted Boy Blog

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl

My novel, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, has three generations of women characters, and each of them has a favorite song.


Evelyn hated her husband’s piano playing. The way he mugged and clowned around, like some kind of vaudeville act. And the songs themselves. No one had taken them seriously for at least forty years. His big number was “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi”. Swaying back and forth over the keyboard, hamming it up: “Oh the guurl of my dreams is the swee-test guurl. . .”

She had her own taste in music. She liked class and sophistication, actual musicianship, not some jackass noise. Like Ella Fitzgerald singing “Skylark.” Smooth and sad and perfect. No fool amateur could touch it.


Was it silly to think of a song as their song? Not that Laura had ever told him. She was too embarrassed. A secret song to go along with a secret affair. Who would have believed it of her, the world’s most boring wife and mother.

It wasn’t a new song even back then. Had it been on the radio in the bedroom? It was a little bit country, like he was, and a little bit corny, like she was: “Islands In The Stream”, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton trying to out-sing the other. Dolly lifting up to the high notes on “Oh, sail away.” A song about finding someone and being found, and always having that, even as the river carried everything away.


It was an old old blues song but people kept finding it and making it new again, just as Grace had found it and claimed it for her own. “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues”. Cyndi Lauper sang it. That was how Grace heard it first. A song about being your own woman, and not letting yourself get bent out of shape over some fool man, and being whatever wild meant to you. It was a lot to live up to, and the song didn’t tell you how to do it.