When I was writing my novel The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs I wanted the hero, Joel, to create a CD to play during the birth of his first child. I wanted this act to be a symbol of his devotion to the mother of his child and his desire to do find a role for himself in the whole messy birth business.
Prospective fathers are much mocked for their obsessions with researching the best buggy and their impotence in the labour room, but all the ones I know are just doing their utmost to be supportive. A man and a woman who’ve always found themselves to be equal are divided as soon as she gets pregnant – she is the centre of all the attention and pain, however much he tries to share in it. Creating a playlist, however small a gesture, is his attempt to show that it means as much to him. I enlisted the help of my friend Dave Barker to come up a selection of tunes, since my musical tastes stop somewhere roundabout Britpop (though they all had to precede 2005 so as not to be anachronistic). His first thoughts were of a couple of songs written for children, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young and David Bowie’s Kooks, though the latter pained him by being one of Mr Jones’s lesser tunes.
Then there are general love songs, the more tender the better. Into this category come Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing, Ship Song by Nick Cave, At Last by Etta James and I’ll Be There for You by Primal Scream.
Dave suggested some general songs that evoke nostalgia for the moment, such as Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. This leads to the characters in the book discussing whether it’s appropriate to give birth listening to a song with drug associations.