While working on The Performance, Claire Thomas created a Spotify playlist. Your book club can download and listen to the playlist here. Read more about why Claire included these songs below:
"Some of the selected music is mentioned in The Performance, including songs from OutKast, Ariana Grande, and Bruce Springsteen, the childhood ditty from the TV show, Play School (a public broadcasting institution in Australia), and Franz Lehar’s Merry Widow duet that closes Beckett’s Happy Days.
Some of the other songs, while not in the novel, were chosen for a particular character. Margot remembers dancing with her son as a baby; I decided Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ was her preferred song. (Then I included Amy Shark’s ‘Adore You’ because I loved dancing to that song with my own baby.) Margot mentions the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s, and so I included Helen Reddy’s anthemic ‘I am Woman’. When Margot finds her husband’s music collection in his car, Springsteen is playing, but U2 would also have been in the glovebox; I think ‘Bad’ is their best song.
Summer remembers heading to a gig in a Melbourne beer garden with her girlfriend, April, and I decided they were going to see Ainslie Wills; her song, ‘Society’, reflects so many of Summer’s anxieties. Songs from The 1975 and Billie Eilish are also for Summer; they are both about the climate crisis and the burdens placed on her generation.
Summer recalls going to a Taylor Swift concert. I included the song ‘Ivy’ from Swift’s Folklore as it shares its name with my third character and also because Folklore was a big part of my lockdown life when I was in the final editing stages of The Performance. Motor Ace’s beautiful ‘Siamese’ is included for Ivy; I think she might have been a fan in the early 2000s, like I was.
Other songs capture a mood of the novel, lyrically or rhythmically, including Clare Bowditch’s ‘Woman’, Sampa the Great’s ‘Energy’ and, for the more buoyant moments, Lizzo’s ‘Good as Hell’. ‘These Days’ is a beloved Australian song that became even more popular during our Covid lockdown; I love this poignant version from Indigenous singer, Thelma Plum.
There are other songs I love and chose because their titles/lyrics play on some aspect of the novel: Sleater-Kinney’s ‘Dig Me Out’; Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Landslide’; Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘Soul Meets Body’; the Stone Roses’ ‘She Bangs the Drums’.
The last few selections are some of the most personal. I included Billy Bragg’s ‘There is Power in the Union’ because I was involved with the National Tertiary Education Union in Australia during the writing of this novel. After years of compromised work conditions, my small activism gave me so much hope for change.
Mogwai and Sigur Ros are long-time music loves. Both bands have often helped me to get my head into writing mode and keep it there. Also, in an era where so many of us are craving live performance, I cherish the memory of a Mogwai concert I went to a few years ago. It was very loud, very beautiful, and left me stunned and bawling in the darkened theatre.
In 2018, I made a slightly random (and blessedly funded) trip to the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado. On the long flight from Melbourne, I watched Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. This time, I was left bawling in a darkened aircraft cabin. The Denver experience changed my writing life; after a decade of confusion and ambivalence, I came home and wrote The Performance. I played Nicholas Britell’s gorgeous soundtrack to Beale Street over and over throughout that time."