Part of my process for writing this novel was to choose a song title that best exemplified the action to take place in each chapter. I didn't limit myself to any one genre of music. Instead, I let the lyrics set the tone.
I'd play the song as I wrote. I was surprised how often well the words matched up perfectly with the chapter. It set the mood for me. I hope it does the same for you.
I created this page with music videos from the chosen songs. Some were created and uploaded by artists or their producers for promotional purposes. Others are fan homages to the band or the song. A few were from televised performances. All of these can be found on YouTube. Forgive any ads that may appear on the screen. Revenue sources are how we live now.
Still, I hope these songs inspire you, or tweak a few great memories. If so, I'm sure the musicians would love you to pluck down 99 cents and purchase it from your favorite streaming site. It's part of spreading the love.
Also, regarding the Ungreatful Deads who fight Donna in her Hellish trials and the helpful souls gave her tips, you'll find her initial meetings with them these novels, although sometimes they appear in subsequent novels too:
Trial 1 (Chapter 4):
Opponent: Gunter, Book 12, Husband Hunting Hints
Tipster: Varick Velasco, also Book 12, Husband Hunting Hints
Trial 2 (Chapter 5)
Opponent: Ratko Zoran, Book 3: Killer Christmas Tips
Tipster: Edwina Doyle, Book 2: Guide to Gracious Killing
Trial 3 (Chapter 6)
Opponent: Salem Rahmin al-Sadah. Book 11, Weddings, Weapons, & Warfare
Tipster: Robert Martin, Book 6, Recipes for Disaster
Trial 4 (Chapter 7)
Opponent: Sebastian Gillingham, Book 7, Hollywood Scream Play
Tipster: Nola Janoff, Book 1, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook; and Book 15, Deadly Dossier
Trial 5 (Chapter 8)
Opponent: Liang Xia, Book 10, Garden of Deadly Delights
Tipster: Catherine Martin, Book 6, Recipes for Disaster
Trial 6 (Chapter 9)
Opponent: Midge and Dave Kelsey, Book 1, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Tipster: Valentina Petrescu Craig, Book 3, Killer Christmas Tips
Trial 7 (Chapter 10)
Opponent: Tatyana Zakharov, Book 9, Hostage Hosting Tips; and Book 15, Deadly Dossier
Tipsters: Mara Portnoy, Book 9, Hostage Hosting Tips;
(Chapter 12) And, of course, Carl Stone played tipster. You'll find him first in, Book 1 The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, and up through Book 8, Killer App.
Chapter 1: “That’ll Be the Day (That I Die)”
Recorded by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Released May 1957, the song spent one week on the greatest hits chart at Number One.
Chapter 2: “Every Breath You Take”
Recorded by The Police. Released May 1983, the song spent twenty-two weeks on Billboard’s Greatest Hits chart, reaching Number One.
Chapter 3: “Don't Fear the Reaper”
Recorded by Blue Öyster Cult. Released July 1976, the song spent fourteen weeks on the Billboard Greatest Hits chart, reaching Number Twelve.
Chapter 4: “Stayin’ Alive”
Written and performed by Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb, and Maurice Gibb. Released November 1977, this disco song was the second single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It spent twenty-seven weeks at Number One on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Chart.”
The Gibbs had originally named the song “Night Fever,” but the movie producers wanted the word “Saturday” added, to match the movie’s original title, Saturday Night. Apparently, it wasn’t original enough for the Gibbses, who felt there were already too many songs with the name “Saturday” in them. The movie’s title was changed instead.”
Chapter 5: “It’s a Sin”
Written by the techno-pop duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, also known as the Pet Shop Boys. When the single was released in 1987, it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in 1987, and was their third Top 10 single in the US when it reached #9 on the Billboard’s “Hot 100.”
According to Tennant, the song aptly describes his Catholic upbringing and education, where he felt the message was that every pleasurable act in life was to be regarded as sinful. One would hope that he has since proven his instructors wrong.”
Chapter 6: “Only in My Dreams”
Written and performed by Debbie Gibson. Released on her 1986 album by the same name, the song reached #4 on Billboard’s “Top 100 Hits.” It was also voted #95 in VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 1980s.”
Chapter 7: “Don't Rock the Boat”
Sung by American trio The Hues Corporation, and written by Wally Holmes. The song was first featured on their 1973 debut studio album Freedom for the Stallion and hit #1 on both Billboard’s “Hot 100” and Cashbox’s Top 100” lists.
Some music historians consider “Don’t Rock the Boat” one of the earliest disco songs. (That honor may actually belong to “Love's Theme” by Love Unlimited Orchestra, which was a chart-topper from earlier in 1974.) Others say no, but acknowledge the claim may have been made because “Don’t Rock the Boat” was the first disco song to hit #1 on the charts. In any event, the song is still a favorite of wedding singers all over the world.
Chapter 8: “Rip Her to Shreds”
Performed by Blondie, on the band’s 1977 debut album by the same name. Written by band members Deborah Harry and Chris Stein.
Though it was released in the UK, it never charted there. Harry claims that the song poked fun at the tabloids’ take on celebrity.
Chapter 9: “Runnin' with the Devil”
Released May 6, 1978, by the band Van Halen. Written and performed by David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. Other writers on the song were Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. The song was released from the band’s 1978 debut album that took the name of the band.
Although only hitting Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart at #84 and the UK Singles Chart at #52, VH1 still calls it the ninth greatest hard rock song of all time.
As for its “satanic” lyrics, the band insists they are metaphors for the ups and downs of the band’s life on the road. (Must have been one hell of a tour…)
Chapter 10: “Loser”
Performed by the rock band, 3 Doors Down and written by the band’s members: Brad Arnold, Matt Roberts, and Todd Harrell. Released July 2000, it hit #1 on Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock Tracks,” and stayed there for twenty-one weeks: a record for that chart. It also made it to #2 in the music trade magazine’s “Modern Rock Tracks” list, and #55 on Billboard’s “Hot 100” list.
The song may have been a winner, but, ironically, not the subject of this song with its sad poignant lyrics: a childhood friend of Arnold’s who became addicted to heroin.
Chapter 11: “She's Not There”
Performed by the pop group, the Zombies. Written by band member Rod Argent. Released in September 1964, this was the group’s debut single. It spent fifteen weeks on the Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart, reaching the #2 slot; as well as #2 on the Cashbox chart, and #12 on the UK Singles chart.
Argent claimed that the inspiration behind the song was his first love: a girl named Patricia, who broke his heart by calling off their wedding just weeks before he wrote it.
Chapter 12: “Sacrifice”
Recorded by Elton John, a song he wrote with Bernie Taupin. Released October 1989, the song spent fourteen weeks on the greatest hits chart, reaching #3 on U.S. Billboard “Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks” chart. In 1990, it also reached #3 on UK Singles charts.
Chapter 13: “Home”
Written and performed by Cheryl Crow. The song became Crow's ninth top-40 hit in both Canada (topping out at #40) and the United Kingdom (hitting #25). It was not initially released in the United States. She recorded the music video at a village car-race festival—a perfect example why it pays to go to any event where they serve deep-fried everything on a stick!
Chapter 14: “Life Goes On”
Performed by Fergie. Written by Fergie, along with Tristan Prettyman, Keith Harris, George Pajon, Jr., and Tobias Gad. The song was released on November 11, 2016, on the songstress’s Double Dutchess album, hitting #39 on Billboard’s “Top 40” list.
Chapter 15: “To Lose My Life or Lose My Love”
The song was on the debut album of the British indie rock band, White Lies. When released in January 2009, the album immediately hit #1 on the UK Albums chart, and it was the first album that year to debut at #1 worldwide. It also held Top 40 slots in six European countries. The single itself also hit #146 on the Billboard “200” chart; and #4 on the Billboard “Top Heatseekers” chart.
Chapter 16: “Live Like You Were Dying”
Performed by country singer Tim McGraw. Written by the songwriting team of Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman. It was the lead single from his eighth album of the same name released in 2004. The writers’ lyrics were inspired by those they knew who suffered serious illnesses and changed in order to live life to its fullest.
The lead single from the album, the song became an enormous success in the U.S. It spent seven weeks atop the Billboard country music charts, and was touted as the biggest country song of the year. It won “Single of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at both the 2004 Country Music Association Awards and at the 2004 Academy of Country Music Awards. It was also awarded the 2004 Grammy Award for “Best Country Song.”
Chapter 17: “Believe”
Performed by the pop artist Cher on the 1998 album by the same name. The song was written by Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennen, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray, and Timothy Powell. As a matter of fact, Cher also claimed to have a hand in writing it.
The song was ranked as the #1 song of 1999 both on Billboard's “Hot 100” and “Hot Dance Club Play” charts. It was also Britain's biggest-selling single of 1998. The song turned out to be the biggest single in Cher’s entire career. She was the oldest female artist (at the age of 52) to perform this feat.
Chapter 18: “I Don’t Wanna Fight”
Sung by Tina Turner on the 1993 soundtrack album for her autobiographical movie, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” Written by British songbird Lulu, Billy Lawrie (Lulu’s brother), and Steve DuBerry. It remains Turner’s last single to chart in the Top Ten of Billboard’s “Top 100,” where it reached #9, as well as #1 on Billboard’s “Adult Contemporary” chart.”
Chapter 19: “You’re Gonna Get Rocked”
Recorded by La Toya Jackson. Written by Full Force. Released in March 1988. This single peaked at #103, barely missing the Billboard “Hot 100.” It also peaked at #66 on the Billboard “Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks” chart, and #90 in the United Kingdom.
Chapter 20: “Fallin’ for You”
Performed by Colbie Caillat. Released on June 26, 2009, it hit #12 on the Billboard “Hot 100” and #2 on the Billboard “Top 40” charts.
Chapter 21: “Back Off Bitch”
Performed by Guns & Roses on the band’s album, Use Your Illusion I. It was written by Axl Rose and Paul Tobias.
Does the song have a backstory? You betcha! In 1982, Axl moved to Los Angeles with his then-girlfriend Gina Siler. They broke up because of his anger issues.
Whereas the lyrics of the song didn’t exactly lend itself to airplay back in the day, it helped take the album to #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, perhaps because it was a crowd favorite with concertgoers, even before the release of the band’s debut 1987 album, Appetite for Destruction. (Gee, I wonder why?)
Chapter 22: “He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Performed by George Jones. Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam. Released in March 1980. It reached Number 1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country Singles.”
Chapter 23: “Let Me Rest in Peace”
Sung by James Marsters. Music and lyrics by Joss Whedon. The song was never released as a single. However, it was part of the 2002 soundtrack album made up of the fourteen songs written for the only musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More with Feeling.” The album reached #49 on the Billboard “200” chart; and #3 on the Billboard “Top Soundtracks.” The TV episode, celebrated by fans and industry reviewers, was the third-most watched show that week, and is credited with influencing other TV series to “put on a show.” Sadly, although the episode was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Musical .”
Chapter 24: “Come Fly with Me”
Performed by Frank Sinatra. Composed by Jimmy Van Heusen, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. It was the title track of Sinatra’s 1958 album, and spent five weeks in the #1 slot on the Billboard “200” chart. Specifically written for Sinatra, the song was a standard in this incomparable singer’s concert repertoire, and was prominently featured in at least twelve feature films, including Catch Me If You Can.
Chapter 25: “I’m Sorry”
Performed by Brenda Lee. Written by Dub Allbritten and Ronnie Self.
In July 1960, the song made it to #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100 Singles” U.S. chart. At the time, Ms. Lee was only fifteen. Her album was released after a debate as to whether someone so young should be singing about unrequited love.
Chapter 26: “One Way or Another”
Recorded by Blondie. Released September 1978, the song reached #24 on the greatest hits charts, spending fourteen weeks on it.”
“The End” Performed by The Doors. Released in March 1967.
“The End” was ranked at number 336 on 2010 Rolling Stone's list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” It was also ranked number 26 on Blender's list of “The 50 Worst Songs Ever.” That's life. You decide.