Galactic Hellcats Playlist

One of my husband’s many talents is creating playlists. He will dig up the strangest covers or songs, like the mix CD he once made for his father of James Taylor songs including “Jelly Man Kelly,” a song Taylor wrote and proformed on Seasem Street.

We are excited our friend Marie Vibbert has a new book out and especially excited because Marie allowed us to be beta readers. In celebration of the realse of Galatctic Hellcats, Darrin put together a playlist to go with major events of the novel.

Possible spoilers ahead: if you treat any forwarning of plot points as a spoiler, don’t read Darrin’s notes. You have been warned.

Galactic Hellcats “Mix Tape” (Unofficial Soundtrack)

Compiled by Darrin Bright

1. Driver’s Seat (Sniff ‘n’ The Tears)

Chapter: “1. Ki Gets Her Ride”

Notes: Great driving song just about cruisin’, but also about taking control of your life. May not quite fit Ki, but this is where my head went and this is where I’m starting.

2. Magic Carpet Ride (KSM)

Chapter: “2. Margot Gets Her Ride”

Notes: First question I got about this list was “Why don’t you have more Steppenwolf?”, and any mix tape about a biker gang could easily just be a bunch of Steppenwolf songs. I chose this one for two reasons: first, the Star Trek reference, and second, Margot really needs to be coaxed into buying her solo-flyer, and I think this covers it pretty well. Yeah, ok, this is the Disney cover by KSM, but I was looking for heavy metal covers by female artists, and just listen to those guitars under the vocals: still very metal!

3. Interplanet Janet (Lynn Ahrens)

Chapter: “3. How Ki Met Margo”

Notes: Ok, chapter is set mostly on Luna, but I think this covers leaving the solar system. I wanted this song up towards the front, and this was a good place to put it. 

4. Hallo Spaceboy (David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys Remix)

Chapter: “3. Getting Out”

Notes: Prince Thane gets introduced. I definitely wanted some Bowie on this list, but many of the best tracks appear on other mix lists (I’m looking at you, Peter Gunn). I stumbled onto this one looking for space songs, and I think it fits Thane really well.

5. Material Girl (Steve Ricardo and Connie Chaos)

Chapter: “5. How Ki Met Zuleikah

Notes: Here we first meet Zuleikah, although we get a better picture of her life in chapters 7-8. Madonna was the first thing to pop into my head when I went looking for songs about “bored rich girl”, and I couldn’t get it out of my head, even though it was a little too “pop” for a biker gang. Fortunately, it’s a great song with a lot of covers out there, and this metal cover by Steve Ricardo and Connie Chaos is fantastic!

6. Girls to the Front (Sizzy Rocket)

Chapter: “6. Jailbreak”

Notes: My lovely wife Nyla suggested this song, and I don’t think I could have found anything more perfect for this novel. Yes, there are several songs out there about jailbreaks, breaking free, and defying authority, but this one nails the whole “girls biker gang” attitude to the wall.  

7. Roam (B-52’s)

Chapter: “7. The Founding of the Galactic Hellcats”

Notes: Every great “Road Trip” mix tape has to have “Love Shack” (I think that’s a law somewhere in Georgia), but I felt this song works better for capturing the wonder, excitement, and spirit of adventure.

8. Highway to Hell (Sershen & Zaritskaya

Chapter: “8. A Terrible Plan”

Notes: This Russian duo (Daria Zaritskaya on vocals, Sergey Sershen on guitars) have done a bunch of great metal covers. It’s difficult to plan on misbehavin’ without AC/DC, but it’s much harder to cover AC/DC and still get that same raw edge to the sound. These two really pull it off.

9. Breakthru (Queen)

Chapter: “9. How to Rescue a Prince”

Notes: Oh, so so many great Queen songs, so perfect for rescuing Thane, but not enough room! (“I Want to Break Free”, “Save Me”, “Tie Your Mother Down”, etc.). If there’s a sequel (maybe WHEN there’s a sequel?), will definitely try to include more Queen on that one.

10. Go Away (The Cars)

Chapter: “10. The Get Away”

Notes: Lots of really great “Get Away” songs out there, lots of really great “driving” songs from the Cars, and I definitely wanted to include something from them This song was a particular favorite of my son’s, and this felt like a good place to put it.

11. Skidmarks on My Heart

Chapter: “11. Dinner Date”

Notes: Oh, poor Zu. Yes, he is every drop of delicious, but he is totally going to break your heart.

12. Woodstock (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

Chapter: “12. Making a Break for It” and “13. The Ship Folk”

Notes: I had to put this one in here somewhere, because I know Marie will belt this one out at the top of her lungs. The original title for this story was “The Stardust Gang”, and I think the spirit of Woodstock was part of the inspiration for the Ship Folk.

13. We Are Family (Sister Sledge)

Chapter: “14. One Big Happy Family”, “15. Pulling Together”

Notes: I went looking for a metal version of “We Are Family”, but apparently Suicidal Tendencies had done something along those lines. So I stuck with the original. 

14. Across the Universe (Fiona Apple)

Chapter: “16. Persephone”, “17. Near Jefferson”, “18. The J-O-B”

Notes: I wanted to include this song, this is a great cover by Fiona Apple… and it probably doesn’t fit here, other than the general spirit of the song, but hey, the gang is going to a different planet, so might as well put it here.

15. Electric Barbarella (Duran Duran)

Chapter: “19. Dating Robots”

Notes: Yeah, I know, doesn’t really fit the “Biker Gang” aesthetic, but this is where my head goes when I look for songs about sex robots. And I love Duran Duran so I’m putting it on here, and you’re stuck with it. And Marie, my formal request for the sequel still stands: more sex robots.

16. Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)

Chapter: “20. Breaking the Rules”

Notes: Great road song, can definitely yell this one at the top of your lungs, and it fits pretty well here. Are there any rules this band didn’t break?

17. We Built This City (Emil Bulls)

Chapter: “21. The City”

Notes: Problem – I need a song about a city. Solution – Lots of great 80’s tunes about cities! Journey! Guns’n’Roses! Starship! OMG, Starship! I must include “We Built This City!” Problem – Way to poppy, way too bubblegum for girls biker gang. Solution – Emil Bulls, I got this covered, dude. Literally.

18. Trampled Under Foot (Led Zeppelin)

Chapter: “22. To Plan a Heist”, “23. The Very Best Regrets”

Notes: Yeah, doesn’t really fit these chapters, as we don’t get to the showroom floor until chapter 24, but I already had a song picked for that one, so I’m putting this one here.

19. Take the Money and Run (Steve Miller Band)

Chapter: “24. How Thane Got His Ride”

Notes: Does not explicitly involve stealing spaceships or traveling to other planets, but Steve Miller definitely counts as a Space Cowboy, so I’m including it. Also a great road song and catchy as hell.

20. Come Sail Away (Styx)

Chapter: “25. The Chase”

Notes: Had to end on this one. It has everything: childhood friends, dreams, regrets, pots of gold, spirit of adventure, angels with a starship. And, of course, you absolutely must belt it out at the top of your lungs.

Good Luck in the New Year

It goes without saying, 2020 has been a brutal year.  Many of us stayed home and wore masks to try to prevent the year from getting worse.  But, in the end, so much of the suck of 2020 were things we couldn’t control.  We couldn’t control mask wearing being made political instead of something we do because we care for our neighbors and fellow Americans.  We couldn’t control how aid was distributed, if jobs were available and as safe as they could be, and we couldn’t control how fast we got a vaccine (which in the end is being delivered at an astonishing speed).  One of the most stressful things you can do to a person is give them negative reinforcement based on something someone else does but the receiver has no influence over.  It is a formula that will induce anxiety in the most stable person and 2020 was an anxiety machine.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

I have a friend, Marie Vibbert, who loves the Browns.  In a city full of super fans, Marie is in the top 100, she even played women’s football with the Fusion. Marie is also one of the most rational people I know (outside of my father who is the type of atheist who, the day after open heart surgery, nearly broke the hospital’s chaplin; my father described the poor man as “very upset” after a conversation with him.)  Yet, this very rational woman has lucky socks.  She tries to repeat everything she does when the Browns win.  If you are a guest at her house when Cleveland loses, don’t expect to be invited over again.  If they win, you will have a standing invitation for any game night (and Marie will secretly blame you for the loss if you don’t show up).  Some of this is for fun but, deep down, I suspect some of it is more than just fun.  Watching the Browns lose season after season is enough to shake even the most stable of people. 

The truth is finding things that give us the illusion of control in a world where we have limited control can be a good thing.  Good Luck charms and rituals are like the comfort blanket of a toddler.  They are something to cling to in a turbulent world where the social rules and economy are temporarily (we hope) upended and a new order hasn’t yet asserted itself.  Good luck charms can be abused.  No four-leaf clover is going to assure you don’t pull the short straw on COVID.  They are to be used as Marie uses her lucky socks, with hope and good will, but not as a sure thing.  Even if the Browns lose while you are at Marie’s house, she can be convinced to invite you over again (bringing alcohol and cheese also helps).

With that in mind, I did a quick survey of worldwide New Year good luck traditions.  I went through the traditions I was willing to do, those that my family wouldn’t be annoyed with me about, and those that were practical.  Jumping waves seven times was out, Lake Erie is very cold right now and the waves aren’t that big to start with on most days (assuming the shore line isn’t frozen).  The husband and child were not going to eat cabbage.  We aren’t big on pomegranates except when they come from the tree in my father’s back yard. And I like bread too much to bang it on a wall and I’m not about to smash plates on my neighbor’s porches.  All those are out.  Here is what is in:

Before Midnight

  • Put money under a rug
  • Put on something white
  • Put 12 fruits on the dining room table
  • Toss coins into every room of the house
  • Light up the house with every light I have

At Midnight

  • Eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds
  • Open a door to the outside to let out 2020
  • Kiss

On New Years Day

  • Eat Hopping John (black eyed peas)
  • Wear Green
  • Cook something green
  • Serve fish
  • Ring the doorbell 108 times.

Later (when available)

  • A vaccination shot for everyone in my household

Will any of these things do anything?  Very unlikely (with the notable exception of vaccination which is about as sure a thing as the world has to offer).  What it will do is give me some small sense of control.  What are you doing this New Years to recapture your sense of agency? 

I wish you the very best in the coming year.  Chins up.