On Writing Going Over to a Rocking Soundtrack
Beth Kephart begins the Blog Tour celebrating the launch of her YA novel, Going Over, by sharing the links between pop music and the dramatic story of two teens on either side of the wall in Berlin, 1983. Follow the tour to learn more about this fascinating time in our recent history, and how Beth brought the story to life.
At the age of nine, on a Boston pond, I launched my (oh so very minor) ice-skating career. Twirls. Edges. Leaps. Falls.
Shortly thereafter (the precise day and hour escape me now), I began to write. Lyric flourishes. Running lines. Suspended disbelief. Revisions.
Music and story. They’re the same thing, right? Sentences are melodies. Plots are choreography. The silence in between the lines is wish and wisk.
When I set out to write Going Over, a 1983 story that takes place on both sides of Berlin’s fierce and graffiti’ed Wall, the music of that era rattled its way right down my spine. David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Depeche Mode’s biting electronica. Nena’s “99 Luftballoons.” (both the English and the German versions). Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. 1983 rock was angry music, or it was hopeful music, or it was daring music.
It was young.
My Ada and Stefan are young in 1983. They’re living on either side of that Wall. In the East, Stefan’s radio might not play all those western songs and, indeed, his government may be pushing their own “rock banks” with “acceptable” lyrics through that gray air, those blackened radio channels. But when Stefan turns his ear toward the West, he can hear the drums. He can feel the thump of freedom in his blood.
In a few years Elton John would be slyly singing his “Nikita,” about an Eastern-bloc guard he’d seen at the Wall. In a few years more Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Phil Collins, The Eurythmics, and others would all travel to the Wall, turn their speakers toward the East, and give some of the most memorable concert performances ever.
You want to know what I think is one of the most memorable concert moments ever? You want to know what I love? It’s this — Bruce Springsteen singing Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” to the countless young of East Berlin.
On November 9, shortly after Springsteen sang and precisely twenty-five years ago, that Wall would finally fall.
Hear it Now!
What would Ada and Stefan have listened to on their Sony Walkmen? We’ve curated an amazing playlist of songs from 1983 and tunes inspired by the wall and the fall.
Follow the Tour!
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