In this edition of Tapes on Books, we provide audio accompaniment for Agatha Christie’s paranoia-drenched bloody whodunit, And Then There Were None. Guests are mysteriously picked off one by one in accordance with a cute little nursery rhyme (also about people gruesomely dying one by one). Aren’t old nursery rhymes great?
Check to see if your little Indian figurine is still standing here.
Indian Island: Soul’s Island – Lee Hazlewood
The Party: The Guests – Leonard Cohen
“Has anybody here seen that movie Clue? I love that movie! Have you seen it? Oh, you got to see it! Tim Curry, Martin Mull, CLASS-IC! ‘I’m gonna go go home and sleep with my wife’ Ha. Seriously, you haven’t seen it?”
U.N. Owen: Invisible Man – The Breeders
Coolest mystery host name ever.
The Poem: Ten Little Indians – Harry Nilsson
Though this Nilsson song is only tangentially related to the book’s ominous nursery rhyme (changed to a slightly less anachronistic, offensive version of the original published title), it still has that hard-to-replicate impending sense of doom sound.
The Record: Guilt Parade – The Birthday Party
Typically when somebody breaks out the record accusing me of willing complacency in somebody’s death, I leave that party. Of course, it kind of depends on how good the bar is at said party.
Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.: Chokin’ Kind – Waylon Jennings
If I were a betting man, I would give pretty good odds to the cause of my mortal coil shuffling off being caused by a lodged chicken wing. At least, 3 to 1.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.: Sleeping Pills – Suede
The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, living, last-breath-you’ll-ever-take medicine.
Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.: Fatal Wound – Uncle Tupelo
I can honestly say, I was never worried about being bludgeoned by a life preserver until after reading this book. Now, I can’t even go near a pool. Thanks a bunch, Agatha.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.: Split Myself in Two – Meat Puppets
You’d think a person might think twice about going to the woodshed after it has been made pretty clear that there is a psycho-killer in the midst. You know, avoid remote places with lots of readily available axes and dull tools.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.: I Got Stung – Elvis Presley
In defense of the bees, they didn’t really kill anyone in this book. However, I’ll never trust them buggers ever since they took out Macaulay Culkin in My Girl. Bastards.
Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.: Bad Indian – Gun Club
Wait? So the killer dressed the judge up like a judge and then shot him? Nice murder, Captain Obvious.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.: Fool – Neutral Milk Hotel / Over the Cliff – Old 97’s
“Oh man! Red Herring! Just like in Clue! ‘Communism was just a red herring’. I forget, did say you’ve seen Clue? Oh man, it is SO good. Why are pushing me towards that cliff? Heeeeyyyyy???”
Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.: Boppin’ To Grandfather’s Clock – Sidney Jo Lewis
This song is the closest approximation of the sound of getting squished by a giant bear cuckoo clock that I could hunt down. Not an easy sound to find. By the way, does anybody know where I can buy a giant bear clock. I mean, I don’t to flatten anyone… I just want one for my den, I promise.
Two little Indian boys were out in the sun; One got all frizzled up and then there was one.: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Gabor Szabo
In light of all the gun control debate these days, isn’t it refreshing to read about a good old-fashioned gun murder before all these liberal crazies wanted universal background checks and reasonable regulations?
One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.: Swinging Party – The Replacements / Swingin’ – Low
No noose is good noose. Of course, that would make the opposite is true too, right?
Epilogue Investigation: Perfect Crime – The Decemberists
Stumped authorities? Come on, detectives! One island. Ten bodies. No survivors. No escape. This should be open and shut case. Donut time.
Letter in the Bottle: I Confess – Kevin Coyne / Wicked World – Daniel Johnston
One of the best endings of any mystery book I have read. The genius of the book is made clear in the confession and detailing the execution of sinister plot. And in the psychologically disturbing off-kilter motive and justification. Especially unsettling, because even though you know that this probably never would happen, it still could.