Park, Side B — an “Eleanor & Park” playlist
Posted on January 18th, 2013    , , , , ,

So this is the fourth and final Eleanor & Park playlist, and I have to say, I’m sad to be almost done. I thought that writing about these playlists would be a tedious chore. (My literary agent suggested I do it.) But it made me feel connected to Eleanor and Park again, and helped me understand why I made some of the choices that I did.

The first draft of this book was mostly written over the summer of 2010, and it was written in a very intense WHOOSH. It felt more like exhaling than writing. And then I moved on to the next thing. (I’ve written two books since then; Eleanor and Park seem like my high school friends now.)

But writing about these playlists took me back to them, to that summer, to what I was trying or not trying to accomplish — I feel like I can explain things now, about this book, that I couldn’t explain when I was writing it.

And this exercise made me more sure than ever that I need to write the sequel. I actually started plotting the sequel while I was writing E&P. (My agent, who is also my friend, accused me of writing my own fan fiction.) I’m not sure who’ll want to read or buy that sequel — it’d be set 10 or 15 years later, and probably have a whole different vibe — but I’m sure I need to write it.

OKAY. Personal reflection and growth over. On to the last playlist!

These playlists were built like mixed tapes, with an A and B side for each character.

Here are the blog entries on Eleanor Side A and Side B; and Park, Side A.

Or you can skip the reading and:

Listen to Eleanor, Side A  and Eleanor, Side B on Spotify.
Listen to Park, Side A and Park, Side B on Spotify.

Purchase Eleanor, Side A and Eleanor, Side B on iTunes.
Purchase Park, Side A and Park, Side B on iTunes.

Park, Side B

I end the book with Park.

Writing Park (whom I was more than half in love with) always felt lighter and more hopeful than writing Eleanor (whom I was also half in love with). So it’s fitting to let him have the last note, too.

I’m past being able to talk about these playlists without spoiling the story. So consider this your MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT.



The Cave, Mumford and Sons

Okay. I know that people have lots of Feelings and Opinions about Mumford and Sons, and maybe you’re sick to death of them. But the first time I saw this video, it hit me like a truck. I played “The Cave” to death when I was writing the scene where Park decides to help Eleanor escape. This song feels like someone forming a battle plan — I know, I will, I won’t, I need.

In this scene, Park is alone and determined to do what’s right for both of them. I think “The Cave” is probably about a breakup, but these lyrics still feel right . . .

“But I will hold on hope,
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck,
And I’ll find strength in pain,
And I will change my ways,
I’ll know my name as it’s called again.”


Kiss of Life, Friendly Fires

Eleanor and Park are in a truck — it’s the middle of the night, they’re driving through Iowa — and Park doesn’t know if he’ll ever see her again. Every nerve in his body is firing. His brain his shaking through his skull.

And Eleanor is asleep.


When I was writing this book , I wanted to capture how it feels to love someone. You love them with your head. And then you love them with everything else. When they’re with you, you vibrate. When they’re gone, you ache.

This song does both.

And God bless whoever wrote these lyrics because I love it when someone tries to describe a kiss and doesn’t care at all that there are no news ways left to describe one. “A thousand butterflies, from your lips to mine.”

(Also, THAT KEYBOARD BUILD at 2:09.  And THIS VIDEO. THE DANCING. THOSE FRECKLES.) (Here’s another great version.)

you wave
goodbye to sun?
The sea
the stars
the waves
the tide?
The wails inside
that life has died.
But all you need is a
kiss of life.”

My Invitation, Sarah Slean

So, yeah, I only know this song because Pacey and Joey danced to it at prom (AND OH MY  GOD, BEST FICTIONAL PROM DANCE).

Eleanor and Park. Still in the truck. Parked somewhere. Possibly Albert Lea, Minnesota. How do you tell someone that you love them? And how do you tell them good-bye?

Every single word of this song is worth writing on your algebra book, but especially:

“You are what they call the human season,
You are all the alphabet in one,
You are every colour of confusion,
You are all the silence I’ve become.”


Falling Slowly, The Swell Season

What do you mean this song has become a total cliché? And that of course I’m using it on my playlist because everybody uses it on their playlists?

Eleanor and Park in a truck, heading north from Albert Lea, Minnesota. And there’s nothing worth saying anymore.

“Take this sinking boat, and point it home,
We’ve still got time.
Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice
You’ll make it now.”


Once I Was, Tim Buckley

So now we’re getting to the point in the book where it’s all-Park, all-time. As Eleanor leaves his life, she leaves the book, too.

There’s this idea that women don’t need men to save them. That it’s anti-feminist to want to be rescued . . . but I think people who love each other rescue each other over and over again. I think that Park saves Eleanor’s life — and that Eleanor makes Park’s life worth living. And that it’s OKAY to want to be a knight in shining armor. Because sometimes we need that guy. (Or girl.)

There’s no such thing as handsome princes, she told herself.

There’s no such thing as happily ever after.

She looked up at Park. Into his golden green eyes.

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.


This song is Park’s song, on the way back to Omaha. He wants to be everything for Eleanor. But everything he’s tried to be has already been.

“Once I was a soldier, 
And I fought on foreign sands for you. 
Once I was a hunter, 
And I brought home fresh meat for you. 
Once I was a lover,
And I searched behind your eyes for you.”

(P.S. Tim Buckley is Jeff Buckley’s dad. They both died tragically young. If this cover by Jeff Buckley doesn’t break your heart, it’s the proof you’ve been waiting for that you are indeed a robot.)

Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell

And now we arrive at the best love song ever written.

Park, waiting in Omaha for a letter. For a phone call. For something.

“And I need you more than want you.
And I want you for all time.”


Roslyn, Bon Iver & St. Vincent

But Eleanor doesn’t write. And Eleanor doesn’t call.


This song makes me feel like my skin is stretched too thin and too tight. The lyrics, like most Bon Iver lyrics, are a big ball of ? for me. But THE WAY IT FEELS.

He kept writing her letters months after he stopped sending them. On New Year’s Day, he wrote that he hoped she’d get everything she ever wished for. Then he tossed the letter into a box under his bed.


“Wings wouldn’t help you . . .
Wings wouldn’t help you down.”

I’m a Better Man, David McAlmont

Probably the worst thing anyone ever said to me about this book is: “I get why Eleanor loves Park. But what’s in it for Park? What does he get out of this relationship?”

First, I took off my rings.

Then I shouted, “LOVE!”

You don’t love someone because there’s something in it for you. You love someone because you can’t help it. And because of who you are when you’re with that person. Love is transformational. Park is more Park with Eleanor. Loving her brushes the earth off his bones.

If you’ve read this far into this post, I hope you’ve read the book. (Because spoilers.) And if you’ve read the book, you know that the ending isn’t clean and neat and wholly happy. But Eleanor and Park are both transformed by their love for each other. They are saved. They are new.

What does Park get out of loving Eleanor?



“If I could catch a star before it touched the ground,
I’d place it in a box, tie ribbons all around – 
And then I’d offer it to you, 
A token of my love and deep devotion.
The world’s a better place,
With you to turn to.
I’m a better man,
For having loved you.

And now, at last, I face the future unafraid, 
With you here by my side, how fast the shadows fade – 
And there is hope inside my heart,
Cause I have something wonderful to live for.
The world’s a better place,
With you to turn to.
I’m a better man,
For having loved you.

And as I am today,
That’s how I’ll always stay.
A better man for having loved you,
A better man for having loved you.”