Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys is always a story I mostly forget and one that doesn’t stand out to me, but rereading it this time I finally realized why. Cherokee as a character was never my favorite. There’s nothing wrong with her and she’s as sweet as pie, but I think it’s because she tends to blend in and her struggles are more superficial that I tend to gloss over her. In a way she’s the perfect sister to Witch Baby because they are polar opposites.
I met Miranda aka The Good Groupie on Open Diary many many years ago around the exact same time I was discovering a love for Francesca Lia Block novels and we bonded over our love of Hanson and pretty fiction. Miranda could easily be Cherokee if she braided her hair and ran through Canyons.
Miranda used her love of music to create the perfect playlist for you guys while quoting the text and explaining her choice for each song.
Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys
When Melanie asked me to join in her Dangerous Angels book club, I was flattered and excited. She and I became friends through not only our mutual love of Francesca Lia Block but also a mutual love of music. Given I write a music blog, it seemed only natural for me to choose the book in Dangerous Angels about a band. Following Melanie’s guide, here’s my take on “Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys” via playlist!
“Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys” was originally published in 1993 as the third book of the Dangerous Angels series. The story is a tried and true tale of rock-n-roll, following Cherokee, Weetzie Bat’s daughter, and her friends as they start a band, find success and deal with the corruption of their spirits.
The story is broken into five sections: four focus on gifts given to each character that transform them from teenagers to rock stars; and the final section, titled “Home”, brings our rock stars back from the brink of destruction to rediscovering themselves. To walk us through each, I’ve highlighted mini-playlists focusing on characters, quotes, plot and a catch-all “other” category. I hope you enjoy listening your way through this fantastic novel as much as you loved reading it.
I sadly could not get the playlist to embed into this page, so please click above and listen while you read!
Character: “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles
Witch Baby Wigg Bat is a tangle of black hair, purple slanty eyes and full of snarky, surly dialogue most days. She’s one witchy woman.
Plot: “A Song to Sing” by Hanson
Witch Baby locks herself away in the garden shed and buries herself in the mud. She refuses to leave, even for her own birthday party. She’s looking for a song to sing and a friend to borrow.
Food: “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore
Crumbled corn bread, green chilies, artichoke hearts, cheese, red peppers, chips, soda and ice cream cake are all birthday party fare for Witch Baby’s celebration.
Quote: “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful
“You are magic.”
Francesca Lia Block’s stories are all about magic – not fairy dust and spells, but the magic inside you that you don’t even realize you possess. Cherokee shares her magic when she enlists their pseudo-guardian Coyote’s help and creates the wings for Witch Baby – believe in the magic in a young girl’s soul.
Character: “Magic Man” by Heart
Raphael Jah-Love is Cherokee’s everything. No one can weave magic without someone to stand by and witness its creation. But that magic can change quickly, as it does between Raphael and Cherokee, into just the physical. After giving Raphael his haunches to make him a Goat Guy, he looks right through her and says, in so many words, “You don’t have to love me.”
Plot: “Los Angeles” by X
As Cherokee and Raphael race through the streets of Los Angeles one night, Cherokee convinces Raphael they must share their music with the world. This song is what I imagine the Goat Guys demo tape sounded like as they shopped it around the clubs.
Quote: “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass
“…they were a rockin’ slink-chunk, slam-dunk band…”
The Goat Guys make their own kind of music and sing their own special song.
Style: “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop
I imagine Raphael’s goat guy pants to make him look something like Iggy Pop, strutting around the stage in just his jeans, bare chested and absolutely commanding his audience.
Character: “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Farabares
Angel Juan Perez returns to his friends after too many years away in Mexico with his family. Witch Baby dreams of belonging to him but is terrified to admit it. During all the time he’s gone, she sits and waits, concentrates on him returning someday.
Plot: “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
Witch Baby has her wings. Raphael has his goat pants. But Angel Juan has nothing and fades away on stage until he lashes out at the rest of the band one night. Witch Baby reveals he’s jealous of Raphael’s goat pants and how he struts around like he’s the only one in the band. He’s so vain, he probably thinks every song is about him…
Quote: “Broken Angel” by Hanson
“You must grow at a slow pace in a dark cocoon of loneliness so you can fly away like wind, like wings, when you awaken.”
This is the sage advice Coyote gives Cherokee when she returns to him asking for a gift for Angel Juan. The band is growing, everything is happening quickly and no one wants to wait for things to come naturally. Everyone is missing the lesson.
Word: “Rock N Roll Outlaw” by Clutch
Witch Baby uses the word clutch when she’s angry – and that’s often in this section. This song, by a band whose name is her favorite insult, sounds like what I’d guess is playing inside Witch Baby’s head as she’s getting angry at Cherokee for not giving Angel Juan a gift and decides to steal Coyote’s horns for herself.
Character: “Golly Sandra” by Eisley
Cherokee Bat has grown up really crazy. She has a Secret Agent Lover Man for a father, a beautiful punk rock goddess for a mother and an extended family that’s a gigantic cast of colorful characters. She could easily double as Sandra in this dream pop/rock tune.
Plot: “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service
Cherokee’s section is the climax, the culmination of everything. The band plays a super exclusive show at their house – this is their big chance. And instead of seizing the moment, they fall apart. Except Cherokee. She collects everyone’s special gifts, puts them all on herself and climbs to the roof of their house – so everyone can see her waving from such great heights.
Quote: “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele
“They were fire. She was fire. She was thunderbird. Red hawk. Yellow dandelion. Storming the stage on long legs on the feet of a horse child, wild deer, goat girl…”
I imagine this song is one Cherokee would have sung after receiving her hooves. They empower her. This song is empowering. All she needs is the hooves, and she thinks everything will be fine.
Pop Culture: “Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley
“We’re so much hotter now. Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis.”
I love all the music mentioned throughout not just this book, but the whole Dangerous Angels series. It is classic and perfect and beautiful. But the thing about music – and the way The Goat Guys relate to it – is that it can be a deadly devil…something our characters finalize realize.
“If Work Permits” by The Format & “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (Bonus tracks)
“Cherokee & The Goat Guys” ends with the four band members being rescued by Coyote. He helps them burn their Goat Guy masks, returning them from rock star goat gods to ordinary teenagers who simply play good music. Both of these are fantastic songs about the concept of home – a place you really can go again.