Soul Music is the sixteenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, first published in 1994. Like many of Pratchett's novels it introduces an element of modern society into the magical and vaguely late medieval, early modern world of the Discworld, in this case Rock and Roll music and stardom, with nearly disastrous consequences. It also introduces Susan Sto Helit, daughter of Mort and Ysabell and granddaughter of Death.
The story follows "The Band with Rocks In" through their short-lived but glamorous musical career. The band consists of the following members:
- Imp Y Celyn, a young lad from Llamedos who sings and plays the guitar. His name is Welsh and means "Bud of the holly". Later on he uses the name "Buddy".
- Lias Bluestone, a Troll who does percussion, which in typical troll fashion consists of banging rocks together. He later takes the name "Cliff", despite his colleagues' warning that no-one would last long in the music business with a name like that.
- Glod Glodsson, a Dwarfs who plays horn, and is not ashamed to admit he is in it for the money.
- The Librarian joins the Band for a little while to play the piano, but leaves the band before they become famous.
The band is "discovered" by C.M.O.T. Dibbler, who becomes the Disc's first music manager. He tries to cash in by any means possible whilst keeping the band ignorant. He also hires the troll Asphalt as a roadie to accompany the band on its tour.
Meanwhile, Death is in one of his philosophical moods, and takes a holiday in search of a way to forget his more troubling memories, such as the recent demise of his adopted daughter Ysabell and her husband Mort.
In the meantime, his granddaughter Susan discovers the truth about her heritage when she is forced to stand in for her missing grandfather. Complications ensue when she falls in love with Buddy, and tries to save him from his "live fast, die young" destiny as the Discworld's first rock star.
Buddy wants to do a free concert, and after Dibbler figures out how much money he can make by selling T-shirts, sausages-in-a-bun etc. to the audience, he agrees. A large number of bands, all of whom have formed in response to the original "Band with Rocks In", participate in the largest concert of all time.
Afterwards the band flees from their crazed fans. They are pursued by the angry Musicians Guild, C.M.O.T. Dibbler, Susan and Death.
Allusions to pop cultureEdit
There are allusions to popular songs, bands and movies associated with rock 'n roll culture between the 1950s and 1990s.
- The original cover illustration is similar to that of the Meat Loaf album Bat out of Hell.
- "Don't Tread on My New Blue Boots" ("(Don't Step on My) Blue Suede Shoes")
- "Good Gracious Miss Polly" ("Good Golly, Miss Molly")
- "Sto Helit Lace" and Buddy saying 'Hello, baby' ("Chantilly Lace")
- "Pathway to Paradise" ("Stairway to Heaven")
- The book alludes to at least one person's thoughts on 'the day the music died,' referring both to the plane crash which claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper and to the song "American Pie" commemorating the incident
- When Death takes the leather coat and the Librarian's motorcycle the sentence "with the coat he borrowed from the Dean" comes up which is a parody of the lyrics from the song "American Pie," which itself references the movie Rebel Without A Cause.
- The "music with rocks in" makes you "want to paint your bedroom wall black" which makes association with The Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black"
- Buddy's song "Sioni Bod Da": Bod Da is Welsh for Be Good, therefore Sioni Bod Da is Johnny B. Goode. There are other references to this song in the book. Buddy's harp was described as singing "like a bell". And Buddy mentions that he used to live in "a shack made of earth and wood". The opening verse of the song mention "a log cabin made of earth and wood" and a boy who "could play the guitar like ringing a bell".
- Susan's friend swears the new boy at the fish shop is "elvish" ("There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" by Kirsty MacColl)
- When discussing "Sex, drugs, and Music With Rocks In", Crash insists (because he has done neither sex nor drugs) that "One out of three ain't bad" ("Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" by Meat Loaf).
- "Anarchy in Ankh-Morpork" ("Anarchy in the U.K." by The Sex Pistols)
- Following the band's amazing popularity, a large number of other "music with rocks in" bands appear, such as:
- One character buys a deaf leopard (Def Leppard) instead of leopard skin pants.
- When Death is experimenting life as a homeless beggar, he is handed a coin. The next passage is "thank you, replied the grateful Death", a reference to the Grateful Dead.
- While arguing about the name of their band, one band member states that "a rolling stone gathers no moss, my father says", which could be a reference to either The Rolling Stones or a lyric from Highway Chile by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
- When Glod mentions a monk in dwarvish lore who forged stolen altar gold into a horn, the character - was referred to as a felonious monk (Thelonious Monk)
- There's a mention of a guitar-lesson book by Blert Wheedown (Bert Weedon).
- The original cover art is highly similar with the heavy metal band Judas Priest's Painkiller album cover.
- Mr. Clete has an assistant called Satchelmouth, which is the non-abbreviated version of Louis Armstrong's nickname "Satchmo"
- A Hard Day's Night - many of the band's getaway scenes, and their general lives while in the band.
- Wayne's World - Blert Wheedown banning the playing of "Pathway to Paradise" in his guitar store.
- The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause - the Dean's increasingly rebellious attitude, as well as his manner of dress (live fast die young) and hairstyle (a 'duck's arse') mirror the youth culture movies of the 1950s, as well as the association of death and motorcycles with music with rocks in. At one stage a mumbling and rebellious Dean is called the 'rebel without a pause'. Near the end of the book, an inner voice asks Death: "So, you're a rebel, little Death? Against what?" and Death cannot think of a snappy answer.
- The Blues Brothers - early in the novel there is a parody of the diner scene where the characters order four fried rats and some coke (four fried chickens and a Coke); later, when stealing a piano, Cliff remarks they are "on a mission from Glod" (the Blues Brothers justified their actions by saying they were "on a mission from God.") There's also a scene where the band is talking to the woman who sold Buddy his guitar. She asks them, "Are you the Watch?" They reply, "No, ma'am. We're musicians", ("Are you the police?" "No, ma'am, we're musicians".
- A Night at the Opera - later in the diner scene, the ordering of food by several characters at the same time reaches a rather frantic and confusing pace, with Buddy occasionally adding "and two hard boiled eggs." This is reminiscent of a similar scene in the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera.
- Buddy starting to fade away while playing onstage is reminiscent of Marty in Back to the Future. However, this is not a movie reference; it actually refers to the Buddy Holly song "Not Fade Away".
- Buddy playing his song "Sioni Bod Da" ("Johnny B. Goode") at the climactic concert, instead of what the audience expected, is another reference to Back to the Future.
- Twice Binky leaves fiery hoof-prints, much like the DeLorean in Back to the Future.
- Buddy always begins concerts saying "Hello, Ankh-Morpork!", a reference to "Hello, Cleveland!" as seen in This Is Spinal Tap.
- The Terminator - When Death, after commandeering the Librarian's bike asks for the Dean's coat.
- Boyz n the Hood - The band that plays before The Band appears at the climatic concert is entitled Boyz from the Wood.
- Alfie - the theme song was "What's it all about, Alfie?"
- The apprentice to one of Ankh-Morpork's premier guitar makers is a dwarf named Gibsson (Gibson produced the first pickup driven electric guitar in the 1930s)
- Glod often redecorates the band's hotel rooms, referring to the common practice, starting with the Who, of destroying hotel rooms (also parodied in This is Spinal Tap)
- The University staff become 1950s teeny-boppers with beehive hairstyles.
- At one point, Glod mentions that the band should be named Gold or Silver to which Buddy replies that "I don't think that we should name ourselves after any kind of heavy metal".
- The Dean is seen making himself new trousers, which are dark blue and riveted together. After a dispute with Ridcully about them, the Dean yells after him: "If history comes to name these, they certainly won't call them 'Arch-chancellors'." The Dean is clearly hoping they'll name them 'Deans', which is not too far away from 'Jeans'. (However, it could also be said that the Senior Wrangler was the real winner of this exchange.)
- The Dean's new rebellious attitude is a reference to the James Dean rebel image
- When the Dean makes a new leather robe he writes "Born to Rune" in studs on the back of it. This is again a reference to the 50's rockers and also to Bruce Springsteen's album "Born to Run".
- The band play at the troll Chrysoprase's bar, The Cavern, a parody of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles amongst others performed early in their careers.
- While in Quirm, famous for its cheeses, Buddy says that the band is "More popular than cheeses," to the outrage of the mayor. This mimics the public backlash to John Lennon saying that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
Appearance in other mediaEdit
An animated adaptation was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Channel 4 in 1996. It takes the association of the "Band with Rocks In" with the Beatles even further than the book does, evolving their style from 1950s rock and early 1960s beat music (and mixing-bowl haircuts) in Ankh-Morpork, to acid rock in Scrote, to spiritual hippie rock in Quirm. In Sto Lat, they sound like the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Bad Company, but are dressed in clothes similar to the Beatles on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Also in Quirm, Buddy says that the band is 'more popular than cheeses,' referring to John Lennon's famous quote proclaiming the Beatles to be more popular than Jesus. In Pseudopolis, their outfits and style resemble the Blues Brothers. Crash's band is also given the name "Socks Pastels". The Dean, in addition to his jacket and hair, also plays guitar, specifically the guitar line from All Apologies by Nirvana. The soundtrack was also released on CD but is now out of production.
- Rollende Steine (German)
- Levande musik (Swedish)
- Роковая музыка (Russian)
- Těžké melodično (Czech)
- Музика на душата (Bulgarian)
- Hardcover: ISBN 978-0575055049
- Hardcover: ISBN 978-0061052033
- Paperback: ISBN 978-0061054891
- Paperback: ISBN 978-0552140294
- Largeprint: ISBN 978-0753151570
- Paperback: ISBN 978-0552153195