Mystery Project Post #2 — The Contemporary Soundtrack

And here we go–the contemporary, chapter-by-chapter soundtrack from the Mystery Project!

I have to admit, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to play around with a 50s-themed universe is the music. I was raised on this music. With few exceptions, I didn’t hear any modern music until I was a tween or early teenager. It was just an accident of birth. It was what my parents listened to. When I got to college, I was appalled that none of the other students knew who Gene Pitney was (he’s my favorite singer ever, and one of the greatest songwriters of all time). Or Roy Orbison. Or Brenda Lee. I mean, I was immersed in this stuff. These songs are my world.

Although the first story in the Mystery Project series takes place between 1958 and ’59, I decided not to musically limit myself to those years. In the context of the fictional universe itself, this makes a tiny bit of sense. So I’ve drawn from a lot of 60s music, too–the “50s hangover”-style tunes that ruled the airwaves until the 60s plunged off a cliff toward Sheer Ugliness. (Can you tell I’m still bitter about the British Invasion? I’m the only person on earth who loathes the Beatles, I swear. First season of Mad Men forever, latter seasons never!)

This time, I decided to share snippets of the Mystery Project with each song. These are quotes from Book #1, which I’m sure will appear maddeningly out of context. They’re called teasers for a reason. Bwahahaha. I hope you enjoy!


1. Bryan Hyland – Sealed With a Kiss


‘Oh, he was finally coming home. I’d missed him so much….

Rallying myself, I reached inside for my lipstick case. Although the dark-haired powder room attendant had yet to clear her throat at me—odd, as she’d already shooed half a dozen young witches away from the mirror—I figured I should get my act together.’



2. Bobby Vinton – Please Love Me Forever


‘As we moved to the music, Vincent’s fingertips stroked the side of my waist, tracing the zipper that fastened the girdle I wore beneath my dress. My eyelids fluttered at his touch. His skin was hot and soft—so familiar. He smelled of wool, warm skin, and spent magical energy—residue from the Ward. A sickly-sweet smell, like syrupy spring flowers left to rot in a vase.’



3. The Poni Tails – Born Too Late


‘When I called Summerlene from the pink Princess phone in my room, I caught her on the first ring. “The future Mrs. Roddy Olwen speaking.”


“Everrose!” She squealed. “I was out walking this morning, and I saw them. The new election posters are going up! I stole one off the side of the drugstore before the paste could dry!”

Burying my face in my hand, I whispered, “Why would you do something like that?”

“Because he’s the ginchiest warlock this side of the Ward. Why else?”

“He’s thirty… nine? Forty?” As I keyed in on a song playing in the background, I blinked. “Are you actually listening to ‘Born Too Late’ while you stare at his election ad?”

“I can’t control which part of my Poni Tails record is playing at any particular point in time.”’



4. Neil Sedaka – The Diary


‘The library was located on Main Street, which by eleven o’clock was bustling. As I turned my head, I could see that the Brew-Lo now had no less than ten baby carriages parked outside, the infants within them left to enjoy the sun while their mothers shopped. Two babies appeared to be engaged in a feud, popping pink and blue sparks at one another. Meanwhile, young people hustled in and out of the Morpheum Theater next door, likely for the Sunday Quadruple Feature. For fifty-five cents, you could unload your child on the Morpheum for a full eight hours.

With October just around the corner, an employee had been tasked with mounting the posters for several upcoming monster movies. His toolbox propped the theater door open, allowing Neil Sedaka’s “The Diary” to blast from the lobby inside. Creature from the Black Lagoon, I saw, would be showing next week.

As I glanced at the poster, my heart twinged. I couldn’t tolerate that film. The one time I’d seen it, everyone around me had screamed or laughed at the monster on the screen. But I’d just felt pity. It was the silliest of silly horror movies, and I’d walked out of it in tears.’



5. The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream


‘My self-deprecation seemed to appease Summerlene. “Don’t put yourself down, Everrose.” She glanced at the tent again, and slid a baby pink nail over her lips. I could tell she wanted to go inside. “They say wildeors visit in dreams, first. Sometimes, parents pay for spells to make their kids dream about one, in hopes that they’ll actually get it.”

“Gee, the shucksters hawking those spells must make a pretty penny. I haven’t heard of a single teenager in All Hollows getting a wildeor this year. And it’d make the news if one did. Remember all the buzz last year over Donna Xue getting that wyvern?”

“Oh, Everrose. Come on.” Summerlene popped a brow. “Be serious. Have you ever dreamed about a wildeor?”



6. The Teddy Bears – To Know Him Is to Love Him


‘Fingers shaking, I reached up to touch him. I had to stand on my tiptoes to do so, as he remained on his hind legs. At first he shied away from my hand, jerking backward with a suspicious snarl—but then he looked into my eyes. The blue glow obscuring his own disappeared, and in the gold that replaced it I saw something like shock.

Something like wonder.

Slowly, the beast lowered his head toward my fingers. Just a little. His hesitation made the air feel electric. As I brushed my knuckles over his chin, my skin numb with shock, I whispered, “I’m okay. It’s okay. Cool your jets.”’



7. Paul Anka – Put Your Head on My Shoulder


‘The living room seemed larger by daylight, with its paneled walls and pale carpet. Out of anger—determined that if I didn’t get to sit in on the dining room council, then no one would hear what was said—I pushed Maple down in front of the big swivel tube Magi-Vision TV and turned on Supernatural Saturday Sockhop. Then I sat with Vincent on the couch, and sullenly forced myself to pay attention as awkward young witches and warlocks from across the county bopped about to the latest hits.

I didn’t have long to brood, though. As Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” started to play, Vincent touched my shoulder and whispered, “We need to talk.”’



8. Bobby Vee – Devil or Angel


‘The Daimler’s steering wheel was on the right-hand side, and the view from the front left was new to me. As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down Tinselfrost Street, I realized that there were no news vans to be seen. Surprised, I wondered, “Did the reporters give up?”

“Did they approach the house at any point?”

“Last night. Dad said they wanted to see Typhon. He told them to take a hike.” I smiled wryly. “Still, if they’re gone for good, you must’ve had something to do with it. My mother will be thankful.”

Mayor Olwen glanced at me out of the corner of his eye, but didn’t respond.’



9. The Crystals – He’s a Rebel


‘Inside, I quavered. Would he follow?

I completed my journey down the concrete path, and encountered the first set of steps that led to the entryway. No Typhon. Without looking back, I climbed the first step. No Typhon.

My heart sank. I climbed the second.

Typhon’s paw nearly landed on my foot. I broke into a grin, and looked over at the great beast. Typhon purred at me, and continued the climb beside me, his tail slung low. In my chest, happiness swelled like a soap bubble.

“Looks like the circus has come to town,” someone cackled. Laughter rang out. “She should put her head in its mouth!”

And that bubble popped.’



10. Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels – Devil With a Blue Dress On


‘Creeping through the victory-drunk crowd was a Cadillac Eldorado convertible, blacker than Satan’s soul. Behind the wheel sat a witch who appeared to be around my mother’s age, but superbly preserved. Her raven hair was cut in a short, fluffy style, and her enviable bone structure was accentuated with slashes of rouge. Her eye makeup was smoky, her lips crimson. She was wearing a dark blue dress, a mink wrap, and elbow-length emerald driving gloves.

I stared. I couldn’t help it. I’d never seen her before, and she was darkly fascinating. She had to be from Hoodoo Hollow—maybe one of the Skulls was her son. Or perhaps she was married to their coach? She seemed to be looking for somebody, openly scrutinizing everyone who happened to glance her way. “Devil With a Blue Dress On” by Mitch Ryder blasted from her stereo.

All at once, her eyes lit upon me.

And Typhon flipped out.’



11. The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow


‘“Now that you mention it, dear, she was supposed to fetch me a cup of tea. She’s been gone for a while.” The crone’s forehead wrinkled. “Last I saw, she was headed for the locker room. We’ve some refreshments of our own in there.”

“Oh!” That explained it. “Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll go see if I can find her.”

“That would be wonderful. Dear girl, you are.” She smiled—but then her smile seemed to burn away, to float away like glowing ash, replaced by a frown that truly chilled me. “Not like the others.”

Something told me that the crone was either the gossip equivalent of a mythportal, or had taught teenage girls for one too many semesters.’



12. Roy Orbison – Running Scared


‘Only one, Buddy Menlow, thought to note, “A girl rode her familiar out—nuts, huh?” He pointed to the vole peeping out of his shirt pocket, and grinned. “No chance of that with me. I had to use my feet to evacuate, like an ordinary person.”

For once, I was grateful to have been overlooked. A call to Summerlene filled in the gaps.’



13. Brenda Lee – Losing You


‘I couldn’t take it anymore. “We’re broken up. Don’t call me, don’t write me.” And with that, I moved past him and started for the front door.

“Everrose!” I heard Vincent’s footsteps behind me. I ran, but not fast enough. He snagged my coat and said, “Everrose, listen. We can stop this.”



14. Bobby Rydell – Forget Him


Before Summerlene set off for home, I secured her cooperation. It was a nasty, sordid business involving a month’s supply of extra-fudge sundaes and the entire rack of Blue Waltz cologne products at the five-and-dime.

“You know I’m only extorting these things out of you because I want to know what the problem is,” she huffed. “I’m your best friend. I think I deserve to know why you’re not going home.”

“Better keep treating me like Santa, then, because I can’t tell you until it’s over.”

“Everrose, seriously—is there a problem? Or a guy? Please don’t turn into one of those girls.”



15. Bobby Darin – Softly As In a Morning Sunrise


‘Above the rim of the ritual space, beyond the stone pillars, the trees that made up Olwen’s forest stood silhouetted by the first pink blush of dawn. They were thin on leaves, and their bare branches were entwined, like lace. As I watched, a small flock of birds alighted upon them, filling the air with their brash, honking cries.

Pushing myself onto my knees, I looked down. Hoary frost covered the cobblestones, but I sat inside a dry circle. A ward of my own, though not the slightest bit magical.

I smiled as the reason for it came back to me. I’d spent the night curled up in Typhon’s arms, nestled into his thick fur. The idea of sleeping outside had intimidated me, but from the time I’d dropped off from sheer exhaustion until only a moment ago, I’d not felt a lick of cold.’



16. Bill Haley and His Comets – Shake, Rattle and Roll


‘The Mayor’s expression remained impassive. “That’s my offer,” he said again. “I give you my word.”

“Your word?” Ebonella made a keening sound that wanted to be a laugh. “By the Founders. What kind of hold does that little tramp have on you, that you would go to such lengths for her? Give your precious word?”

“You are dangerously close to taking a one-way trip through the Ward, Miss Rosu.” As the Mayor spoke, a hot wind rushed past my face. I was unwilling to believe it resulted from the fires.’



17. Connie Francis – My Melancholy Baby



‘“What’s your favorite song?” I asked.

I kept my eyes focused on the glass. Reflected in it, I could make out Mayor Olwen’s desk silhouetted against the enormous fireplace. “Excuse me?”

“What’s your favorite song, if you don’t like modern music?”

The warlock was silent for a bit. “‘My Melancholy Baby.’”

“Never heard of it.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. It’s very old. Older than I am.”’

© 2014 Lia Habel. All rights reserved.

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  1. Lori T
    Sep 19, 2014

    My late grandmother only listened to old records, which I loved to dance around to, and my dad drove a cool ’68 Chevy Nova that only had an AM radio, so up until 4th grade, I had no idea what “modern music” was, so I, too, grew up on the classics. I loved Elvis and Roy Orbison like crazy (and still do! hahaha!) Actually, when I moved to a new school district in 4th grade, my new teacher had a video day on Friday and let the “new kid” (aka ME!) pick the video. It was between New Kids on the Block and UK basketball. I had no idea what this New Kids thing was, so I chose basketball because I at least knew what it was. That was the beginning of my vast unpopularity at school ;-)

    And you’re not alone in your loathing of the Beatles. I’ve always considered them to be the most overrated music/band/singers/whatever in history. I’ve never understood their appeal, no matter how many people tell me I’m crazy :D

  2. Pari
    Oct 13, 2014

    Ahhhh I love this! I love this music. The teasers are too good as well. I’m so happy you’re writing again, and I am fully prepared to toss my money your way once your books come out.

  3. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Oct 13, 2014

    Yay, glad you enjoyed! My boyfriend is helping me work on the cover as we speak, so hopefully I can post that soon! :D

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