The return is here; meaning the end of the story is imminent. The author has finally settled his anguish over the soundtrack, and will soon finish the story as well. That means settling some thoughts about it by penning some thoughts in this supplemental feature.
Some writers of fan fiction claim to take the soundtrack selection process for their stories very seriously, then there are those that actually do. Most simply select a listing of songs they think fits well with their scenes, usually just picking top forty hits, usually of a "darker" variety. This is often as ad hoc and thoughtless as the stories themselves, and a careful observer will note that the songs selected are all videos, and no souls. Moreover, it is usually the case that all the songs selected are copyrighted studio recordings.
Tying The Gordian Knot takes a different approach, as many of the songs selected are not commercially available in the United States, are concert bootlegs, or aborted studio recordings. The track listing for the basic soundtrack CD, measuring eighty minutes, is below:
1. Fast Cars- U2
2. Murder By Numbers- The Police
3. Ash (from the Blackstone single)- Gackt
4. Alive (Mookie Blaylock Demo)- Pearl Jam
5. Neo Universe- L'Arc-En-Ciel
6. One Tree Hill (12-26-1989)- U2
7. Flying People- Core of Soul
8. Blowin' in The Wind- Bob Dylan
9. In A Little While (concert unknown)- Hanson
10. Kite (recorded at Slane Castle)- U2
11. Knocking On Heaven's Door- Bob Dylan
12. Lemon- U2
13. Van Diemen's Land (Rattle and Hum movie rip- The Edge
14. Mercy- U2
15. Stay (Far Away, So Close!)- U2 (Live radio recording in Dublin on the Zoo TV Tour, 1993)
16. Slide Away- Michael Hutchence & Bono
17. Times Are A-Changing' (recorded in November of 2000)- Eddie Vedder
This basic track listing captures the stoic intensity of the story well and also doesn't suffer from overexposure. This has the benefit of allowing the music to mean something in terms of the story. Fast Cars, for example, wasn't released in the United States, so it hasn't developed a massive meaning to this date. This isn't true for track two, for it saw wide distribution. Luckily, it hasn't received radio airplay and didn't have a release as a single, so there is some room for the story to co-opt the meaning of the song.
Like Murder By Numbers, I chose Ash early in the project to fit a mood. Although a Japanese language song, it carries a lot of meaning.
Another recording of track four is probably Pearl Jam's biggest hit, but this demo is very charming and raw. If I'm not mistaken, this recording was a part of the very first demo tape the band recorded with Eddie Vedder. As I understand the story, they recorded just after Ed returned from surfing one day.
Track five was another early pick, one made after…watching the video. Another Japanese rock song, this one carries the quixotic mood of Roger Gordian during some of his achievements.
Track six has no relation to the HBO series of the same name. A careful reading of the lyrics only should indicate why this song is a part of the soundtrack. It was recorded in Dublin, and is a personal favorite of mine among bootleg recordings. It also expresses the mood of the M'dan Marsh Arabs really well, although the band meant it for the Maori of New Zealand, I believe. It also rules over the studio version.
Core of Soul is a Japanese pop band. I originally meant to use a Mandarin language cover of this song to be the anthem for my protagonists' stay in Macau, but I simply didn't like that version as much (and I couldn't tell it apart from a Korean cover with a nearly identical label).
On my personal copy of the soundtrack, Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind is a studio version, but any good bootleg version can fill the role in any copy of the CD, for the message of the song is what's vital. I'd rather not have a universal standard on this track, so fill it in any way you feel is fitting.
With track nine, you must think I'm crazy. It is a concert cover. When it first came to me, I thought it was a boot, but it turns out to have been professionally recorded for a live album. This recording, just like the great original on All That You Can't Leave Behind, tells you all you need to know about the sentimentality of the lead character.
Kite is just a perfect image song for a tired repo man with mild autism taking the back door back into soldiering, his professional calling. My original character, Paul Evans, has Kite swelling in his lungs.
Knocking On Heaven's Door can be any boot recording, but on my personal version, it is the studio. It expresses the general malaise of the men when they think of the divorces from the services they belonged to. They are all private military contractors that belongs to larger institutions they took pride in, after all.
Track twelve is another breaking of the rules I set the story's soundtrack, but serves as a crucial motif in a great scene involving the antagonist plotting.
Van Diemen's Land is now called Tasmania, but in the context of the story, this song represents the emotions of Nigel Braun, a character largely adrift from civilization.
I had Mercy before it officially existed, and I'm still not sure of it's legal status. It is another one of those great songs that isn't linked to anything in the public mind, thankfully. It describes perfectly the bond the characters hold for one another, and Evans for his family. Beyond that, I can't explain why it fits, but it does.
This version of Stay (Far Away, So Close!) comes from a promotional CD handed out to hype the Zoo TV tour. It serves as a window for understanding what's beneath the stoicism of Paul Evans.
Slide Away was an unfinished song recorded by Inxs singer Michael Hutchence before he died. Though not a boot or an outtake, it is simply perfect for carrying the mood of my project.
The concluding recording is perhaps the most essential track. If I were to pick a theme song for the entire project, this would be it. The writer of the song would probably be shocked I'd give it so much meaning for private military contractors, but the song describes their attitudes perfectly. Many of my characters, particularly Evans, are living second lives through a method conventionally frowned upon. Again, I'm well aware this isn't what the writer meant for his song, but that's the nature of folk, the music doesn't stay under your control, and others will adopt it to their lives. That's actually the most appealing thing about folk traditions.
The essentials come with supporting track listings, including more copyrighted and popular studio recordings left off the essential set. The author plans to set up an iMix listing the these in the future. These will include Rock The Casbah by The Clash, Desert Rose by Sting, and a song barely cut from the essentials, The Shadow Proves The Sunshine by Switchfoot. The list will be short to keep the collection cheap. It will come with a companion in the form of another short boot and outtake listing mixed with a few J-rock tracks.
Assimilating The Gordian Knot, a thoughtful scholarly essay, explains much of the rationale behind why Roger decided to set a hub in the Middle-East and stake so much on a dangerous project. Gordian aims to setup up a major hub in the south of the country, from where he can win over the indigenous Marsh Arabs, particularly the Ma'dan. From there we can conduct deep drilling operations for not oil, but for fresh water. He aims to outpace the marsh restoration project by a number of years, raise a Marsh Arab militia, and branch civilization from his hub.
He bases many of his ideas on a new understanding of Carl von Clausewitz's center of gravity idea, believing that the enemy's center of gravity is a disconnection from the normalcy of peaceful domestic life. From that his corporate cult of personality develops piecemeal solutions to the problems they see coming, and try to adapt quickly to unanticipated ones. Roger endows himself with dictatorial powers by divorcing his efforts from stockholders and coalition authorities.
With him he takes his most trusted advisors, most notably Vince Scull, an analyst who's earned a fortune of respect from his daring essays. Piecemeal innovations taken include beta-testing the latest equipment for the military, contracting various non-military fitness programs to conduct limited training of Marsh Arabs, refitting scraped tanks into armored personnel carriers, as well as employment of the finest off-the-shelf commercial products.
Although ultimately dictatorial, Gordian delegates a high amount of responsibility to men that only achieved the status of non-commissioned officers in the military. He opts to generally not compete for the high-cost ex-special forces officers grabbed by other private military companies, but goes after men such as marine noncoms, men adequately suited for commanding small unit fire teams. Because the NCOs are the "glue" for a fighting force, Roger is convinced they are the ideal leadership for the small teams he puts together, initially teams of six contractors, with Ma'dan filling in the ranks. Gordian's teams are also more international, allowing him to select from a far larger market than other contractors.
Gordian ultimately believes that he can empower the average Iraqi through empowering him, and to his business sense, that means bringing products that give individuals strength to their region. He sees himself almost as a Sears catalog of the era, and planned a Walmart style logistical system accordingly. His vision is to supply every medium necessary for the Marsh Arab to gain personal empowerment, and through a "hub and spoke" arrangement, he plans to connect them quickly.