(If you haven’t read the book, you may want to wait as this is fairly spoilery. Also, I’ve bolded all the song titles and bands instead of putting the titles in quotes for all the TL;DR people!)
Did you know Come Back Tomorrow has a soundtrack? That’s right! There’s a song that goes along with each chapter of the story. But it didn’t start out that way . . .
Alas, I’m one of those people who need complete silence in order to write. I wish I could jam along to something or use music to get me in the mood for the scene I’m writing, but even though it might get me in the mood, I end up singing along with the words and thinking of other times when I listened to the song and . . . What were we talking about? You get the idea.
I didn’t realize until the last few years that I’m a very musical person. I played piano for ten years as a kid, and I sang in chorus all the way up through college (including the level where auditions are required), but I don’t currently play an instrument or sing in a group. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sing. I sing almost constantly. And not just along with the car radio or when I’m in the shower. I always have something in my head, and I sing throughout the day: bits of Hamilton, Shinedown songs, Ed Sheeran, show tunes from a host of other musicals . . . I sing while doing chores, in between meetings, and it’s just gotten worse since I started working from home in 2017. I didn’t realize this was weird until I did it when we were at the beach with some friends. My girlfriend looked surprised when I started belting out something, and we talked about it, and I realized I’d found yet another way in which I’m the weird one.
I’m also like the canary in the coal mine—when I’m not singing, you better watch out because something is bothering Mom, and you don’t want to be on the wrong end of that. There is a point to me telling you about my connection with music, but we’ll get to that a little later. For now, back to Come Back Tomorrow.
As many of you know, this book started out as fanfiction, and about a third of the way through posting the story, someone on Facebook commented that the story made them think of Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I had never even heard the song because at that point in my life, I had been away from new music for about ten years—too busy having babies and chasing after them to think about anything other than “Backyardigans” music.
The song paired with the story just blew me away. It was perfect! So I asked my Facebook group for other suggestions, and soon I had a list of songs to explore as I worked on the story. (This is also how I found Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, and Shinedown—thank you, CBT!) So me being me, I decided I wanted to pair a song with each chapter. This turned about to be quite an undertaking since the original story consisted of both Come Back Tomorrow and Whatever Tomorrow Brings and had fifty-seven chapters! But I eventually did pair each chapter with a song, and that helped to get me back into the current music scene as well.
There are two songs that really sum up all of Come Back Tomorrow: Chasing Cars, and also Just Breathe by Pearl Jam. I can’t listen to either song without thinking about the story or having a physical response to the music. Goosebumps creep down my legs, and I can feel a tingling on the left side of my jaw—the emotion is just right there, and it sweeps me away for a minute. (Do you have physical responses to music? Apparently, not everyone does—I’ll share an article at the bottom of this post.) I can’t tell you how glad I am that I made these connections between the music and story, and there are a lot of other ones too.
You’re Beautiful by James Blunt is a perfect pairing for Will’s “high on morphine” first impressions of Tori.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day brings you into the reality of Will’s life as Tori comes to see it in Chapter 2.
Fix You by Coldplay sums up Tori’s mission.
Dust to Dust by The Civil Wars is another perfect take on Tori’s impressions of Will and what she feels she needs to do.
Halo by Beyonce for the first time Tori starts to make progress and because Tori is Will’s angel.
Stay with Me by Sam Smith. Do I really need to say anything?
Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls–good Lord! It’s as if Will is singing this one. This one can do the thing with the goosebumps, too, but not every time.
Force of Nature by Bea Miller, You Got Me by Colbie Caillat, and Distance by Christina Perri for Tori’s growing feelings.
If the Moon Fell Down by Colbie and Chase Coy is a gorgeous duet, and it fits Will and Tori beautifully.
Just Breathe by Pearl Jam for Chapter 11. God, it hurts so good!
The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars for Will’s frustration.
How to Save a Life by The Fray for back to square one.
My Best Friend by Weezer. So perfect for Will and Jason’s relationship.
Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran . . .
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. If only they could forget the world.
Yellow Flower by KT Tunstall. God, this one is beautiful.
Could I be a boat for you a while?
Could I stay afloat for you and sail in your smile?
Could I be a boat for you
And navigate this weight for you?
Could I be a boat for you a while?
Everybody Hurts by REM because Chapter 22 is hard.
Wherever You Will Go by The Calling for Tori’s devotion.
Demons by Imagine Dragons for William Everson Sr.
Hurt by Nine Inch Nails for Will’s past.
Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran for Tori’s decision.
Say by John Mayer for what Tori’s afraid to say.
Lay Me Down by Sam Smith. I don’t even know that I can articulate this one. Just listen to it.
One Last Breath by Creed. Again, just listen.
Say Something by A Great Big World. I cry every time I listen to this song. Chills, goosebumps, all the feels. Just try reading Chapter 31 and then listening to this song. There’s no way you won’t feel it.
Broken by Seether because they’re together but apart.
You can access the full soundtrack list here and I’ve included a link to the playlist on Spotify. I hope the music enhances your experience of Come Back Tomorrow as much as it did mine.
Oh yeah, remember what I said about physical responses to music? This is being studied in scholarly circles and suggests that there’s an ancestral function for music. This article is just one of many.