Meaning of the Songs Accompanying Book One

299 Days is different in many ways, one of which is that there is a soundtrack to the books.  Some chapters of the book were influenced by particular songs, and other chapters are explained by songs.  I put those songs down on the book’s web site under “Soundtrack.”

I will put out a blog post on the songs for each book’s soundtrack.  Here are the songs for Book One and what they mean in the story.

The song for the Prologue is “Once in a Lifetime” by Rose Tattoo.  This song is about realizing that big things happen once in a lifetime–and running with it.  The big things Grant Matson is thinking about in the Prologue (which is also the last chapter, Chapter 299) are the amazing things he has been called upon to do.  The song talks about a hearing a “long train comin'” and that’s Grant seeing the collapse coming.  Grant heard “sad bells singin’ soft and low” because he can see terrible things will be happening in America.  He sees the “glory in an outlaw story”; he and the Team are technically outlaws and they achieve glory.  The song talks about the thunder telling them “it’s time to let you go.”  This is Grant letting go of the old world and embracing the new reality of the collapse.  All of this–knowing bad things are coming, listening to the outside thought, being apart of amazing things, and then seeing glory in an outlaw story–only happens “once in a lifetime.”  Grant has had an amazing life.

Unlike the heavy thoughts in the Prologue, Chapter 4’s song is “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo and the Bunnymen.  This is the song playing when Grant met Lisa in college.  Not a ton of meaning here; just a song to set the mood for the scene.

Chapter 9’s song is “God Makes No Mistakes” by Loretta Lynn.  Grant and Lisa struggle to understand why one of their children has special needs.  At first there is shock that their child isn’t perfect; then they realize that God makes no mistakes.  It’s not easy to come to this conclusion, but they do.  As it turns out, the special needs of their child end up helping someone in a profound and life-changing way.  God makes no mistakes.

A Country Boy Can Survive” is the song for Chapter 11.  The title of the song says it all.  Grant realizes that the country boys (and girls) back in his rural home town of Forks, Washington can survive while most of the city people can’t.  “Ain’t too many things these ol’ boys can’t do” describes the ingenuity and self-reliance that will be seen later in the story when the residents of Forks rig up some things to provide necessary services that the government can’t.

For Chapter 12, “Watchman” by Poker Face is the song.  Grant is a watchman; he sees trouble on the horizon.  As the song says, “I see my nation crumble.  Out of control”  and “I watch as my liberties slowly slip away.”  Grant sees it, but no one else does.  Grant realizes he needs to man up and deal with it, even if everyone thinks he’s crazy.  He’s a watchman and has a job to do.

California Riots” by Jamey Johnson describes the events in Chapter 33.  As the songs asks, “Where you gonna be when half of California riots?  Where you gonna run to when the lights go out?”  It’s a good question.  Most of the people in California end up not having an answer.

Chapter 34’s song is “Western World” by Pennywise.  As the collapse unfolds, people are shocked but Grant can’t help thinking that people get what they deserve.  He has been telling them for years this is coming and they mocked him.  He doesn’t want bad things to happen, but everything that’s happening was entirely predictable.  A line from the song sums up Grant’s thoughts: “I don’t want to live here anymore.  Gonna watch it burn.”

In Chapter 44, Grant realizes that the good guys have tried all the things inside the system to try to preserve liberty.  They’ve tried raising money to elect good people and they’ve hired lawyers to protect people’s rights.  None of this worked.  Now that the system has collapsed under its own weight, guns will be what it takes, as much as they hate to admit.  So Grant remembers the song “Lawyers Guns and Money” by Warren Zevon and tells another character that they’ve tried lawyers and money; “now it’s time for guns.”

Enjoy Book One.