Whether you like to listen to music while you read or prefer silence, this list of ten songs is a perfect match for your next Oklahoma-based mystery novel.
From Oklahoman artists to lyrics referencing specific areas, these songs will make you fall back in love with the state while still satisfying that craving that need for a good thriller. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
1. You’re My Thrill by Chet Baker
Genre: Instrumental/ Jazz
You simply can’t have a mystery playlist without some good old jazz. This song completely encapsulates that mysterious tone of a slow brass melody you would hear during those black-and-white noir films. You can practically picture the main character secretly working undercover to confront his suspect. Chet Baker, nicknamed the “Prince of Cool,” was a musician who helped establish the “Cool Jazz” age in the 1950s. Born in Yale, Oklahoma, his music inspired a new generation.
2. Two Black Cadillacs by Carrie Underwood
If we’re making a playlist of Oklahoma songs, we must include the country queen herself: Carrie Underwood. Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Underwood got her start by winning American Idol in 2005. She has since gone on to collect a total of eight Grammys and sell over 66 million albums. Her lyrics typically tell intensely emotional stories and this song is no different. Those who enjoy solving the mysteries within their novels will love the narrative of a secret murder cover-up portrayed in the lyrics of this one.
3. Oklahoma by Keb’ Mo’
Keb’ Mo’s unique country blues sound transforms this song into a groovy rhythm that will have you absolutely jamming out. This one certainly represents the “comic relief” character in our favorite mystery stories. The goofy, outgoing, and rambunctious sidekick who pops in to remind the main character to “keep it cool”. From sentences that reference history, to lines that value the beauty of the environment, the lyrics to this one certainly pay tribute to the great state of Oklahoma.
4. Tulsa Queen by Emmylou Harris
Genre: Country/ Pop
There are so many great subgenres of the mystery category, but some of the most bone-chilling stories are the ones where the main characters must search for someone who’s gone missing. That nail-biting feeling that lingers over the whole narrative as the main character races against the clock to bring them home safely. This song by singer Emmylou Harris seems to represent that chilling feeling. Perhaps it is the calming instrumentals paired with the haunting lyrics, but this song depicts a woman who got on a Tulsa train and was never seen again.
5. The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie by Colter Wall
There is nothing better in a mystery novel than an intriguing and complex antagonist. Understanding the main character is easy, but can you understand the villain? Has the author given you enough detail into their minds and motives? These messy characters challenge readers’ perspectives, and those who love a good thought-provoking antagonist would enjoy Colter Wall’s song about a man whose greed overcomes him in a deal with the devil. His raspy and deep tone is like nothing you’ve ever heard. There isn’t a single Oklahoma playlist on Spotify without this fun and poetic melody.
6. Scorpio by Oscar Pettiford
Genre: Instrumental/ Jazz
If you thought “You’re my Thrill” by Chet Baker was the perfect mystery jazz song, just wait until you listen to “Scorpio”. Like Baker, Oscar Pettiford was born in Oklahoma. He was a composer and a musician whose songs became a hit during what was called the “Bebop” era of American Jazz. This composition has notes that blend together in a sly and sneaky manner. It almost personifies an antagonist of a mystery novel slumping around in the darkness as they cover up their crimes.
We love mystery novels because of their intensely captivating storylines, nail-biting thrills, and heartstopping plot twists. However, with all those extreme scenes, there are those sweet moments to breathe in between. This song represents just that; It’s slow, sweet, and a fresh breath of air “under the Oklahoma sky”. This song is perfect for those who enjoy a romantic or platonic subplot just as much as the original storyline.
8. Out of Limits by The Marketts
Picture this. Your novel is in full swing and the main characters have finally come toe-to-toe. It is an intense scene as the villain attempts to run and the hero chases after them. Perhaps it’s a gunfight, a high-speed car chase, or a simple chase of cat and mouse. The stakes are high and the story is revving up for its twist of a finale. This song encapsulates all of that in an almost bond-style rhythm. In fact, those who have seen the classic movie “The Outsiders”, which is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, might remember this scene when the two gangs chase each other around the playground.
9. Friendly Demons by Labrys
Talk about a haunting and chilling melody for an antagonist. Penny Pitchlynn, the musician behind Labrys, is an Oklahoma Choctaw who explores “the human experience” in her music. Her songs have gone as far as to be showcased in the show Reservation Dogs, all of which is filmed in northeastern Oklahoma. This song in particular is incredibly gripping from the very first note. The beginning line echoes with many voices in a minor key which creates this whispered haunted effect. If you like novels with multiple points of view and shift back and forth between your protagonist and antagonist, this song would represent the antagonist so well!
10. Oklahoma Sun by Koe Wetzel
The villain has gotten more than enough songs on this list, so it’s time to show some appreciation to our hero. This song is a classic representation of the main character waiting for a storm to come. Perhaps they are detectives awaiting their next case. Or maybe they’re connected to a victim in some way. This song is mellow and has a total vibe for those who crave characters with emotional backstories.