A song to match everyone’s heartbeat.
A soaring melody, a pulse-pounding beat, a touching lyric: Music takes a moment and makes it a memory. It’s a universal language that can capture love, heartbreak, loss, soul searching, and wing spreading—all in the span of a few notes. In Behind the Song, fourteen acclaimed young adult authors and musicians share short stories and personal essays inspired by the songs, the albums, the musicians who move them.
So cue up the playlist and crank the volume. This is an anthology you’ll want to experience on repeat.
Behind the Song is a Young Adult anthology of short stories inspired by music. There are fourteen stories in all, and while most of them are fictional, there are a couple that are nonfictional. I love creating my own personal soundtracks for favorite books, or even for my own writing playlists, so I was very excited about reading Behind the Song and listening to the different songs that inspire other writers.
For the first twelve stories, I read the story after listening to the song that inspired it. I listened to the last two songs after reading their respective stories, and this may have contributed to a greater feeling of suspense since I couldn’t make guesses about what would happen next based on the song lyrics.
Below are my favorite stories from Behind the Song, and I’ve also linked up to the anthology’s playlist below :)
Miss Atomic Bomb by Anthony Breznican (inspired by The Killer’s “Miss Atomic Bomb”)
If you enjoy dystopian stories, you will love this one. I was a bundle of nerves the entire time I was reading Miss Atomic Bomb, and I had to take a bit of a breather after finishing it because there was so much to unpack and think about. I love short stories for this very reason: every action, every moment of suspense is magnified and condensed into the length of a novel chapter.
‘Cold Beverage’: The Song I Wrote That Changed My Life by G. Love (inspired by his song “Cold Beverage”)
Before reading this story, I had never even heard of the song “Cold Beverage”, but now I listen to it about once a week because it is SO FUN! Check out the video on the playlist below, even that is fun to watch (I watched it twice while typing this blog post). This is a memoir short story (I refrain from using the word “essay” because that makes it seem dull, and it’s anything but), because it’s written by the singer G. Love about how he created his song “Cold Beverage” and why he still loves it nearly two decades later.
Time To Soar by Donn T (inspired by Amy Winehouse’s “October Song”)
This is one of those stories that really needs to be read multiple times. First of all, I’m not too familiar with Amy Winehouse’s music, but after listening to “October Song”, I see why she had such a loyal fan following. Time To Soar reads like a true story, perhaps creative nonfiction, but it isn’t. It’s filled with suspense, heartbreak, and hope, and overall it has an inspirational and optimistic message.
Anyone Other Than Me by Tiffany Schmidt (inspired by Dave Matthews Band’s “Dancing Nancies”)
This short story could have been turned into a full-length novel, and I would have loved it just the same. It’s a coming of age story about turning over a new leaf and finding oneself. There are swoon-worthy moments, and even suspenseful ones, and it all takes place at a summer camp which makes it really fun to read. I had heard of Tiffany Schmidt before, but this is the first time I’ve read anything by her; I will definitely be picking up one of her books sometime because I really enjoyed her tone and writing style.
Doomed? by K.M. Walton (inspired by Marcy Playground’s “All the Lights Went Out”)
I’m glad that Behind the Song ended with a fantastic story like Doomed? It’s one that surprises you with a twist you won’t see coming, one that will keep you thinking about the story long after you’ve finished it. Doomed? is told through two narrators, and it’s easy to follow along, although it’s another story that deserves to be read more than once.
Here is my YouTube playlist for Behind the Song. Unfortunately, one of the songs (“Planting Trees” by James Howe) is not on YouTube, but you can listen to it here.
Behind the Song Playlist