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  • December 2011
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Books and Music Have More in Common Than You’d Think: Drake & “Where She Went,” by Gayle Forman

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for the books If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman. Do not read past this warning if you do not want critical plot details spoiled!

On Monday, I finished re-reading two of Gayle Forman’s critically-acclaimed novels for teens, If I Stay and Where She Went. I was refreshing my knowledge for a book discussion in advance of Gayle Forman’s upcoming Black, White & Read All Over author visit. P.S. – Don’t forget to comment on yesterday’s Gayle Forman blog post to win two free tickets!

If you wanted my full opinion of the books, you should have come to the discussion, but I will say for the sake of the blog that while I was reading Adam’s pained, isolated, and anxiety-ridden feelings about being famous–if you remember, between the events of If I Stay and Where She Went, Mia broke up with Adam, who transformed his pain into writing a bestselling album and a career as a rich rock star–I couldn’t help but feel like I was recently exposed to Adam’s story in another medium. And then I remembered: Drake’s Take Care.

Imagine Adam sitting in his hotel room in Rome while the rest of the band goes off and sight-sees, and you have the Drake "Take Care" album cover.

Take Drake’s first single, the song “Headlines” (warning: explicit lyrics), which begins with a statement on the intoxicating, ego-stroking nature of being famous:

I might be too strung out on compliments

Compare this to Adam’s ruminations on the way people treat you when you’re in the spotlight, and you should start to see some similarities, in both content and the high-impact, breathless way they’re both delivered:

There were the girls, the drugs, the ass-kissing, plus the hype—the constant hype. People I didn’t know—and not groupies, but industry people—rushing up to me like they were my longtime friends, kissing me on both cheeks, calling me “babe,” slipping business cards into my hand, whispering about movie roles or ads for Japanese beer, one-day shoots that would pay a million bucks.

Where Adam and Drake share the greatest camaraderie is in the way this haze of fame has cleaved them from the people and things they love and care for, and the melancholy loneliness that results. No better Drake song represents this than “Marvin’s Room” (warning: explicit lyrics):

Compare Drake’s drunken, sad crooning to start the album:

Cups of the Rose
B****** in my old phone
I should call one and go home
I’ve been in this club too long
The woman that I would try
Is happy with a good guy

But I’ve been drinking so much
That I’ma call her anyway…

With Adam’s irrational compulsion to see Mia despite the emotional and physical distance she has put between them since leaving for Juilliard:

I look up again. Her eyes are still there, still staring at me. And I just know with as much certainty as I know anything in this world that she’s playing tonight. I know even before I consult the date on the poster and see that the performance is for August thirteenth.

And before I know what I’m doing, before I can argue myself out of it, rationalize what a terrible idea this is, I’m walking toward the box office. I don’t want to see her, I tell myself. I won’t see her. I only want to hear her.

Later in the song, you get a feeling for why Drake’s character is so sad and disconnected, and yearning for the one thing that has felt solid and real in a Hollywood and record label fame fantasyland:

Talk to me please, don’t have much to believe in
I need you right now, are you down to listen to me?
Too many drinks have been given to me
I got some women thats living off me
Paid for their flights and hotels I’m ashamed
Bet that you know them, I won’t say no names
After a while girl they all seem the same
I’ve had sex four times this week I’ll explain
Having a hard time adjusting to fame
Sprite in that mixture, I’ve been talking crazy girl
I’m lucky that you picked up
Lucky that you stayed on
I need someone to put this weight on

And here’s Adam giving an even more literal voice to the idea of using and abusing the trappings of fame, the same things that keep them from happiness, to try to fill the void of loneliness caused by heartbreak:

I didn’t know it yet, but once the real tour started—the one our label sent us on after the album went haywire, a five-month slog of sold-out shows and groupies galore—all I’d wanted to do was hide. Given my isolationist tendencies, you’d think I’d have learned to stay away from the freebie affection on such constant offer. But after shows, I craved connection. I craved skin—the taste of another woman’s sweat. If it couldn’t be hers, well, then anyone’s would do . . . for a few hours.

That kind of emotional Catch-22 is the root of the trauma at the heart of Drake’s Take Care and Gayle Forman’s Where She Went, and binds the consciousness of the Drake and Adam characters firmly in my mind.

If you read this far, I wonder: have you ever encountered any strange literary and music soulmates?

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main – Teen

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