is a podcast of stories and “answer songs,” featuring performances by Roxane Gay, David Gilmour, Susan Orlean, Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Ian Black. You can hear an exclusive preview of next week’s episode featuring Odie Lindsey and Mary Gauthier only at Paste.
Odie Lindsey was a soldier before he was a writer. He was in Iraq attached to the 20th Airborne Division when a care package arrived addressed to “any soldier.” In the package were the complete works of Kurt Vonnegut, and by the time Odie finished them he knew he would be a writer.
Odie’s newest novel is called Some Go Home, about a veteran named Colleen, who is struggling with her marriage, addiction issues and PTSD.
“Her genesis was, you know, in part my dealing with my own deployment,” Lindsey says.
Colleen was also featured in Odie’s first short story collection, We Come to Our Senses, which is one of songwriter Mary Gauthier’s favorite books. Gauthier was drawn to Lindsey’s writing in part because he writes about the South, an area that is deeply familiar to her.
“I know those characters, I know the personality types,” Gauthier says. “The history of that troubled, troubled part of America is in my genes.”
Still, the song that Gauthier would write in response to Lindsey’s book did not come easily.
“Every page I turned I was starting to sweat!” Gauthier says. “Like, ‘Oh, God, I can’t fail. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Eventually Gauthier discovered that the title of Some Go Home was taken from a song by Jerry Jeff Walker. Listening to that song, she soon found the inspiration for her song, forging a chain of inspiration from Walker’s music, through Lindsey’s work, and into hers.
Ben Arthur is the creator and host of SongWriter. You can follow him @MyHeart and hear a song he wrote in response to Odie’s book, “After the War.”