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Characters’ Playlist for Wildcat: An Appalachian Romance by Jeffrey Dunn

In my novel Wildcat: An Appalachian Romance, travel back with New Kid to his roots, lured to the once-shuttered Hotel Wildcat, now revitalized as a collective endeavor. Now a retired English teacher, he ventures through this transformed community, a new world unfolds before his eyes. The former mine, once a site for tragedy, now thrives as a flourishing mushroom farm, the dairy emerges as a purveyor of life-sustaining organic milk products, and the mill stands as a vibrant hub for sustainable and artisanal creations. Yet amidst this promising rebirth, Wildcat’s traumatic history remains. New Kid must not only grapple with the time of explosions and closures but also with his own dark past—the return of Carolyn, his working-class, hippie-chic girlfriend.

New Kid’s Song #1, “Wondering Aloud” – Jethro Tull

“When I was fourteen, Jethro Tull took me on a stroll through an exotic garden of blues, folk, jazz, and classical flowers. This song’s a meditative walkabout. Still is.”

New Kid’s Song #2, “Fields of Joy” – New York Rock and Roll Ensemble

“The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble were classical musicians who made it new. This song opens your doors of perception to a little electric harpsichord, and then, to a slow build of psychedelic and passionate honkytonk transcendence. Yes, please.”

New Kid’s Song #3, “LongMa” – Nini Music

“Who doesn’t need some Taiwanese Folk Metal? All retired up in Wildcat as I am, I’m listening to this now. This song is traditional like ramps in spring, new like mushrooms into leather.”

Carolyn’s Song #1, “Universal Soldier” – Buffy Sainte-Marie

“Uh-huh, I love Buffy. She’s strong. She’s courageous. She’s righteous, so listen up.

Carolyn’s Song #2, “Where Do the Children Play” – Cat Stevens

“When I was a kid, going out to play meant getting away from meanness and cinders. When I first heard this song, I thought Cat was singing to me. I thought Cat was sexy, and Yusef still is.”

I don’t see the point in songs that don’t have a point.

Carolyn’s Song #3, “Look What They’ve Done to My Song Ma” – Melanie Safka

It’s hard to vibe for simple truth, but Melanie did. Me? I never asked my ma, ‘Look what they’ve done to my art,’ because my ma’s soul died before I was born.”

Dominic’s Song, “Which Side Are You On?” – Ani Difranco

“I heard this the old song on the radio, and I like the way this lady lays it down. I’ve always liked songs about workers’ rights, and somebody said Ani owns her own label. Keep on, keepin’ on, girl.”

Arabelle’s Song, “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” – Donovan

“Sometimes when I’m mushroom hunting, this song plays in my head. I think heaven’s a walk in the woods with Dominic. It really is.”

Floreandra’s Song, “Honey Bee” – Tom Petty

“Hey, old man, surprised? Don’t bee, right? You’ve tasted my bees’ honey, so you know my bees got the blues and their honey rocks. Cone on, you’d say earthy sweet. You know you would.”

Charles’ Song, “Whitehouse Road” – Tyler Childers

“Dead’s dead, but I still pick things up. Heard this song on the other side.”


As featured on NPR and Medium, Jeffrey Dunn is a critically acclaimed author and award-winning teacher. His works of cultural fiction include the Washington State Book Award-nominated Radio Free Olympia, the surreal Dream Fishing the Little Spokane, his upcoming Wildcat, An Appalachian Romance as well as Whiskey Rebel, and his poetry collection Hubcap Collection Plate. His Ph.D. in English literature and cultural studies laid the foundation for his 41-year teaching career where he focused on addressing student learning issues and implementing educational programs at the local, state, and national levels. Embracing his dyslexia as a gift, this dream fisher and history miner roams the woods whenever possible.

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