Emma’s iPod: The Madame Bovary Playlist

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Last night, our book club was discussing Madame Bovary, and we had a good laugh over the songs it brought to mind. So, nerd that I am, I took the time to assemble a whole could-be album.

I realize the interpretation below is just one of many possible takes on the story, and it’s not even necessarily my favorite. But it is certainly musically compatible.

If this looks boring to you, at least check out #12 before you browse elsewhere- it was a gem of a find. Anything I missed? Suggestions welcome.

***Note: This list may reveal elements of the story’s plot, but by the time they happen, you’ll put nothing past Madame Bovary anyway. The book is still worth reading.

1.Wrapped Up In Books (lyrics)
Belle & Sebastian

Emma thinks her life will reflect the romance novels she hides from the nuns.

2.Love and Marriage (lyrics)
Frank Sinatra

But then she marries Charles and is disappointed.

3.A Very Stylish Girl (lyrics from Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
Dimitri from Paris

Surely she is destined for more. A higher class, a noble passion!

4.Talk Dirty To Me (lyrics)
Poison

Emma and Leon are in intellectual love but don’t move past brain sex.

5.Love the One You’re With (lyrics)
Stephen Stills

Leon moves away. Emma cares about her family for awhile.

6.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
That didn’t last long.

7.Till Love Touches Your Life/The Lady Is A Tramp (lyrics)
Shirley Bassey

Is it love, or lust? Either way, Emma’s boots get very muddy.

8.You Can’t Always Get What You Want (lyrics)
The Rolling Stones

…and Rodolphe doesn’t want Emma. He leaves, she wilts.

9.Tickle the Ivories Rag
JoAnn Castle

Piano lessons will revive her! Tickle the what, again?

10.Seaside Rendezvous (lyrics)
Queen

Emma and Leon practice lots of things. She feels better and worse.

11.Baby I’m Broke (lyrics)
Lucky Soul

Emma’s good at fashion but bad at math, and no one can help.

12.Put Arsenic in the Frosting Next Time (lyrics)
Johnny Hobo And The Freight Trains

Everyone pretends it was a baking mishap.

13.And I Love Her (lyrics)
The Beatles

Charles grows old and bearded and sad.

(The end.)

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5 thoughts on “Emma’s iPod: The Madame Bovary Playlist

  1. Beth, this is so very cool. A novel idea, indeed! I bet certain Bible stories would elicit some interesting playlists.

    Or, what about books of poems? Richard Siken’s Crush has always brought Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary to mind.

  2. Should the bonus track you want me to add pertain to something that happened after “Charles grows old and bearded and sad” – in other words, should I keep it chronological?

  3. Bonus Track: “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”, by the Smiths. As opposed to the event-specific songs you’ve selected, this one (given Emma’s insatiably voracious appetites for both men and material goods) is pretty much applicable to every single chapter of the book. Plus, I can definitely picture Emma obsessively listening to the Smiths and Morrissey when she’s moping and feeling sorry for herself – that is, most of the time.

    Another possibility is “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, though I can’t really imagine her listening to Warren Zevon.

  4. Here’s my list for my bookclub. Thanks for yours–I could have used more your picks.

    Your Cheating Heart–Hank Williams
    We know what the book’s about before we even start–and then we meet the 1st Madame Bovary.

    For Emma–
    Death by Diamonds and Pearls–Band of Skulls

    Wanting more than the life she sees
    Symphonies–Dan Black
    Unsatisfied–The Replacements

    Is it her or her parents (or in-laws) in this income-tax bracket?
    Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle–Cake

    And she retreats to her room–the surprisingly dark Beach Boys
    In My Room–The Beach Boys

    For Rodolfe
    Superman–R.E.M.
    Dominos–The Big Pink

    Emma’s despair
    I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry–Cowboy Junkies

    And the next affair–with Leon
    Temptation–Tom Waits
    Love Shack–The B-52’s
    Babydoll–Cat Power
    Her desperation
    Lovefool–The Cardigans
    Leon’s response
    I’m in Trouble–The Replacements

    And her plunge
    Baby I’m Broke–Lucky Soul

    Charle’s Love Endures
    Wild Horses–The Flying Burrito Brothers
    I’ve Been Loving You Too Long–Otis Redding.

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