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Cai Emmons' Playlist for Her Novel "Weather Woman" In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book. Cai Emmons' novel Weather Woman is an enthralling eco-feminist fable.
Foreword Reviews wrote of the book: Since I began devising a playlist for Weather WomanI have not been able to stop. I hear threads of relevance everywhere. The 20 tracks I have finally settled on speak to me in different ways, some primarily for the thematic content of their lyrics, some for their driving rhythms, some for their intense longing.
The novel is about a meteorologist, Bronwyn, who discovers she has the power to change the weather. But for that one fantastical element, it is a realistic novel that touches on issues to do with female empowerment, science vs.
Some of those songs, mostly well-known catchy tunes, have been included here. Over the course of the book, as she comes to terms with her power and contemplates what do with it, she encounters thunder and lightning, hail, tornadoes, fire, and hibernal arctic temperatures—several songs have been chosen to address those encounters.
Because weather in all its manifestations is frequently used in song lyrics—and other written work—as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of human emotions and relationships, I was overwhelmed with choices.
It is one of the rare songs which refers to the natural forces—rain, wind, snow—on their own, not as metaphors for something else. The speaker is the rain: I also love the metronomic rhythm of the song which is reminiscent of a downpour.
The lyrics of this Newton Faulkner song are somewhat obscure, but what draws me to it is the refrain: She contemplates the dreamy idealized version of clouds and love and life alongside their darker aspects; none of them is wholly good or bad.
Bronwyn has a strong need to escape her background. She was raised by a single, anxious mother in a working class New Jersey town, and she escaped when she went to a classy college in the Boston area, but she remains haunted by her humble origins. Her boss has insisted she sing instead of talking about climate change which, he says, turns off their viewers.
She chooses songs that are all fairly well-known and catchy, and easy for her to sing or at least sing a few lines of. I doubt if Dylan was thinking about climate change when he wrote it, but he definitely had some kind of doomsday on his mind.
The idea that you can be happy in the midst of a rainstorm is definitely an idea Bronwyn embraces. It posits rain as something not to be endured, but to be savored and explored. The song opens with a terrific nervous driving instrumental section. It would be a major challenge to negotiate a love affair with someone who can do the superhuman things Bronwyn can do—it is imperative for Matt to accept her power.
He is writing for a tabloid when he meets Bronwyn, and is somewhat of a cynic, but goes from being a skeptic about her capabilities to being a believer and her advocate. Tornadoes and fires figure prominently among the extreme forces Bronwyn tries to combat with her power.
In song lyrics, tornados are almost always a metaphor for destruction, but fire has multiple metaphorical meanings including love, warmth, light, as well as destruction. It is, as Johnny Cash sings it, a metaphor for falling in love. For Bronwyn it becomes not only a metaphor for love, but also a description of her actual encounters with fire, so indomitable she almost goes down.
In terms of Weather Womanthe song has the same insurgent desire to upset the status quo that Bronwyn possesses at various points in the book. The book concludes in the Siberian Arctic, in a small town called Tiksi. I wanted to include some music from groups who live in or have originated in the Arctic, because I think there is a distinct sensibility there that is not found in many other places, an awareness of living in an extremely remote place with a challenging climate.
Ultimately the song feels optimistic to me: This particular song was the official song of the Arctic Games, and while it is a bit schmaltzy, I like the way it portrays people in the Arctic as underdogs asserting themselves:Aug 02, · Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty.
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