Music by the Book!

Music by the Book

Music by the Book!

A pairing of music and words
just for book groups!

In Music by the Book!, Tom Moon, author of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, pairs words and music just for book groups.

For your next gathering, why not pair a book selection from Reading Group Choices with a music choice from Music by the Book!


This month, Tom suggests some music parings for your discussion of
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken
Laura Schenone.

Music often functions as an invisible, unremarked-upon accompaniment to all kinds of important adventures – long car rides, family reunions, weddings. It’s playing in the kitchen during the chopping and preparation of the evening meal. It is the author’s reliable companion – and the reader’s, too. It’s the spark the painter waits for, the sound that soothes the baby.

There’s lots of music wafting through Laura Schenone’s The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken – what does one expect from a tale of Italian family, and tables groaning with fresh, and lovingly prepared, homemade food? As you read (and explore the recipes), consider having some of these tunes on hand.

Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (1955, Capitol). A wonderful set of songs describing various steps along the descending path of lost love, this gem from Hoboken native Frank Sinatra is great for pondering the zen of ravioli. Or any food, for that matter. Sinatra was one of music’s most adroit sensualists – his voice can exert the hypnotic pull of garlic warming – and that’s probably why he’s forever playing in the background at Italian restaurants from pizza joints to gourmet spots.

Itzhak Perlman: Paganini: 24 Caprices (2000, EMI). Among the great technical challenges of the violin repertoire is this set of 24 solo Caprices written by Nicolo Paganini, whose own ravioli recipe is featured in Schenone’s book. Perlman’s reading is full of an unmissable zest for life; it’s the perfect thing to have playing when you need to feed the kids pronto.

Al Fabrizio: Italian Heartstrings (2002, Heartstrings). Here’s the Italian mandolin played by a contemporary musician, Al Fabrizio, who understands the tradition, yet isn’t afraid to convey flashes of modernity now and then. Mixing brisk dances (tarantellas) and more pensive ballads, Fabrizio offers gorgeous, understated performances that are alive with the possibility of romance. Excellent dinner music. Those looking for something Italian with a bit more “classical” flavor – i.e., not folk songs – might check out the captivating Serenata, a series of duets between guitarists Beppe Gambetta and Carlo Aonzo.

Link Wray. Rumble! The Best Of Link Wray (1993, Rhino). Link Wray is among the underappreciated “fathers” of the power chord – his 1959 instrumental gem Rumble, which is mentioned in Schenone’s book as among her father’s teenage-years anthems, stands as one of the great moments of rock and roll swagger. The remaining songs are equally electrifying: Wray is a true original.

About Tom:

Tom Moon

For the last three and a half years, award-winning music journalist Tom Moon has been searching out peak musical experiences from all genres and every corner of the earth. 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, published by Workman Publishing in August 2008, is the result of his journey. Covering both acknowledged world-culture masterworks (J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations) and recordings that have been unfairly overlooked (Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left), the book is designed to encourage listeners to become explorers.

Moon lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs and an attic full of music outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.