September 2, 2012

TSS: Literate Music Playlist

Songs about reading, songs inspired by authors and stories, songs about physical books themselves, songs about writing- I have compiled a list of songs that fit these bills.  Obviously, while a large list, there will be songs I did not know about.  You can certainly add these in the comments.

I have put notations where I am absolutely sure what book/author was the inspiration (and it needs explaining).  Inspiration has been found everywhere from Shakespeare to sci-fi series to nonfiction. There are some surprises here- like did you know Devo's Whip It was based on a book of parodies? (Sorry that song is now stuck in your head.  Same here.)  

I had no idea how to organize this list- book title?  artist?  genre?  whether it was about a writer, a specific book, or books in general?  It was getting complicated.  So I just used the titles of the songs and alphabetized them. Yes, I know articles do not count in alphabetization but I thought it easier to browse this way.   Hope that works okay for everyone!

Read at the list, take a listen to some on YouTube or your favorite music testing site and revel in bookish lyrics....

1984----David Bowie
2 + 2 = 5----Radiohead (1984)
42----Coldplay (Partially inspired by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
7 Chinese Brothers----R.E.M.  (Inspired by an ancient Chinese tale)

A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun----Manic Street Preachers  (Inspired by book Cocaine Nights)
A Picture of Dorian Gray----The Television Personalities
A Skeleton in the Closet----Anthrax (Inspired by Apt Pupil by Stephen King)
All I Wanna Do----Sheryl Crow (Based on the poem 'Fun' by Wyn Cooper)
Alone----Green Carnation (Alone by Edgar Allan Poe)
Among the Living----Anthrax (Stephen King's The Stand)
And Your Little Dog Too----Hannah Fury (Wizard of Oz)
Animal in Man----Dead Prez (Animal Farm)
Annabel Lee----Fleetwood Mac (Poe's poem)

Baobabs----Regina Spektor (The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Barefoot Children in the Rain----Jimmy Buffett (Mark Twain's Huck Finn)
Beautiful Loser----Bob Segar (Leonard Cohen poem Beautiful Loser)
Been Down So Long----The Doors (Been Down So Long It Looks Up To Me by Richard Farina)
Bible Black----Heaven and Hell
Big Brother----David Bowie (1984 by George Orwell)
Black Book----Stephen Malkmus
Blood and Thunder----Mastadon (Moby Dick)
Book Lovers----The Divine Comedy (The whole song has author's names followed by short comments.)
Books on Tape----The Black Whales
Books Written for Girls----Camera Obscura
Bookshop Cassanova----The Clientele
Brandy Alexander----Feist (Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters)
Brave New World----Iron Maiden
Bright Eyes----Art Garfunkel (Watership Down)
Buying a Book----Joe Tex

Cactus Practice----Tori Amos (The White Goddess by Robert Graves)
Calypso----Suzanne Vega (The Odyssey)
Cassandra----ABBA (based on a character in The Illiad)
Catcher in the Rye----Guns 'n' Roses
Chapter 24----Pink Floyd (The I-Ching)
Charlotte Sometimes----The Cure (Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer)
Cherry Lips----Garbage (Sarah by J.T. LeRoy)
Child Called "It"----Buckcherry (Dave Pelzer's memoir)
Colony----Joy Division (Colony by Kafka)
Crown of Creation----Jefferson Airplane (The Chrysalids by John Wyndham)

Dead American Writers----Tired Pony
Dear Ophelia----Abney Park (Hamlet)
Dig It----The Coup (The Communist Manifesto referenced)
Disturbance at the Heron House----R.E.M. (Orwell's Animal Farm)
Dollars & Cents----Radiohead (No Logo by Naomi Klein)
Don Quixote----Gordon Lightfoot
Don't Stand So Close to Me----The Police (references Nabokov)
Doublespeak----Thrice (1984)
Dust Bowl Dance----Mumford & Sons (Much Ado About Nothing)

Electroneering----Radiohead (Noam Chomsky)
Elvis Presley and America----U2 (Elvis by Albert Goodman)
Ender Will Save Us All----Dashboard Confessional (Ender books by Orson Scott Card)
Eveline----Nickel Creek (James Joyce's Eveline)
Every Grain of Sand----Bob Dylan (William Blake's Auguries of Innocence)
Everyday I Write the Book----Elvis Costello
Exit Music (for a Film)----Radiohead (Romeo & Juliet)
Exit Night/Juliet's Theme----Emmy the Great (Romeo & Juliet)

Feed My Frankenstein----Alice Cooper (Frankenstein is used as a metaphor)
Fire on the Mountain----Rob Thomas (What is the What by Dave Eggers)
Firework----Katy Perry (On the Road by Jack Kerouac)
Flower of the Mountain----Kate Bush (Ulysses)
For Whom the Bell Tolls----Metallica (Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls)

Geek Love----Bang Bang Machine
Giving Up the Gun----Vampire Weekend
Gonzo----The All-American Rejects
Grendel----Marillion (Beowulf)

Hemingway's Whiskey----Kenny Chesney
Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)----Sonic Youth
Home at Last----Steely Dan (The Odyssey)
House at Pooh Corner----Loggins & Messina
Howl----Florence & the Machine (Inspired by stories she read as a child)
Hypnotized----Fleetwood Mac (Don Juan)

I Fought in a War----Belle and Sebastian (JD Salinger's For Esme)
In Hiding----Pearl Jam (Charles Bukowski)
In Repair----Our Lady Peace
The Inner Light----The Beatles (Tao Te Ching)

Joan Crawford----Blue Oyster Cult (Mommie Dearest)
July, July!----The Decemberists

Killing an Arab----The Cure (The Stranger by Albert Camus)
Kiss That Frog----Peter Gabriel

Look Alive, Sunshine----My Chemical Romance (A Clockwork Orange)
Lord of the Flies----Iron Maiden
Lost Art of Murder----Babyshambles (Decline of the English Murder by George Orwell)
Love and Destroy----Franz Ferdinand (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)

Mama----Genesis (The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven)
Man of Constant Sorrow----Soggy Bottom Boys (from movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is based on The Odyssey)
Mathilda Mother----Pink Floyd (Hilare Bollocs' novels)
Mercy Street----Peter Gabriel (Based on the life of poet Anne Sexton)
Miss the Girls----The Creatures (JG Ballard's Crush)
Miss Teen Wordpower----The New Pornographers
Misty Mountain Hop----Led Zeppelin (Lord of the Rings)
Moon Over Bourbon Street----Sting (Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice)
Morning After Dark----Timbaland (Twilight Series)
Mowgli's Road----Marina & the Diamonds (The Jungle Book)
Mrs. Hemingway----Mary Chapin Carpenter (A Movable Feast by Hemingway)
Myopic Books----American Music Club

Narnia----Steve Hackett
November Rain----Guns 'n' Roses (Without You by Del James)

Oliver Twist----D'banj
Ophelia----Natalie Merchant (Hamlet)
Oxford Comma----Vampire Weekend

Paperback Writer----The Beatles
Penelope's Song----Loreeena McKennitt (The Odyssey)
Pet Semetary----The Ramones (Pet Semetary by Stephen King)
Pilate----Pearl Jam (The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)
Prince Caspian----Phish
Private Investigations----Dire Straits (Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe)

Ramble On----Led Zepplin (Lord of the Rings)
Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology----Jack Johnson (Brave New World)
Resistance----Muse (1984)
Rhiannon----Fleetwood Mac (Triad by Mary Leader)
Riki Tiki Tavi----Donovan
Rocket Man----Elton John (Rocket Man by Ray Bradbury)
Romeo and Juliet----Dire Straits
Room of Roots----Al Stewart
Run Daddy Run----Miranda Lambert (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Scentless Apprentice----Nirvana (Perfume by Patrick Suskind)
Secret Journey----The Police (Meetings with Remarkable Men by G.I. Gurdjieff)
Shadows and Tall Trees----U2 (Lord of the Rings)
Sorrow----Pink Floyd (The Grapes of Wrath)
Sorting Books----The Moore Brothers
Soulmate----Natasha Bedingfield (John Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus)
Strange and Beautiful----Aqualung (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Sylvia Plath----Ryan Adams
Sympathy for the Devil----The Rolling Stones (The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)

Tea in the Sahara----The Police (The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles)
Telegraph Road----Dire Straits (The Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun)
The Art of War----Anberlin
The Atrocity Exhibition----Joy Division (JG Ballard book)
The Book----Sheryl Crow
The Book of Love----The Magnetic Fields
The Book I Read----Talking Heads
The Call of Ktulu----Metallica (The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft)
The Clairvoyant----Iron Maiden (Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card)
The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure----The Magnetic Fields 
The Island----The Decemberists
The Millionaire Poets----Zumpano
The Necromancer----Rush (Lord of the Rings)
The Phantom of the Opera----Iron Maiden
The Sensual World----Kate Bush (Ulysses)
The Stars Look Down----Rush (A.J. Cronin's The Stars Look Down)
The Thing That Should Not Be----Metallica (The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft)
The Ugly Duckling----Danny Kaye
The World According to Garp----Al Stewart
The World As I See It----Jason Mraz
These Bones----Dashboard Confessional (Twilight by Stephanie Myers)
Thieves in the Night----Black Star (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison)
This Charming Man----The Smiths (Loving by Henry Green)
This is Home----Switchfoot (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Time to Dance----Panic at the Disco (Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters)
Timshel----Mumford & Sons (East of Eden by John Steinbeck)
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes----Modest Mouse (The Great Gatsby)
To the End----My Chemical Romance (A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner)
Tom Sawyer----Rush
Tomorrow Never Knows----The Beatles (The Psychadelic Experience by Timothy Leary and Robert Alpert)
Tomorrow's Food----Incubus (A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilbur)
Trynna Finda Way----Nelly Furtado (The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll)

Ulysses----Franz Ferdinand
United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage----Muse

We Are All Accelerated Readers----Los Campesinos!
We Are the Dead----David Bowie (1984)
What's Become of My Baby----Grateful Dead
When the Wild Wind Blows----Iron Maiden (When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs)
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?----The Kingston Trio (And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov)
Whip It----Devo (Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon)
White Rabbit----Jefferson Airplaine (Alice in Wonderland)
Who Wrote the Book of Love?----The Monotones
Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?----Green Day (The Catcher in the Rye)
Wild Boys----Duran Duran (Wild Boys by William Burroughs)
Wrapped Up in Books----Belle and Sebastian
Wuthering Heights----Kate Bush

Yertle the Turtle----Red Hot Chili Peppers
You Better Leave the Stars Alone----Ego Likeness (Neil Gaiman's Stardust)
You're Gonna Go Far, Kid----The Offspring (Lord of the Flies)

Zooropa----U2 (William Gibson)


  1. I know "Scared, Are you?" by Better than Ezra is based on Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

  2. This is going to keep me busy later in the day, to see if I can add to it. I'll get back to you. :)

  3. OK ... wow. This must have taken some work to compile. I'm incredibly impressed and am going to mark this and come back to it when I can take more time to pore over this treasure trove.

  4. Wow, that is a really comprehensive list! Arcade Fire's The Surburbs was inspired by William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, and the lyrics to "Sprawl II" nearly mirror some passages in those books. The Airborne Toxic Event is named after White Noise by Don Delillo.

  5. what a great list! I'm going to have to do some serious iTunes searching and sampling now!

  6. This is an amazing amount of work! I've listened to several now on You Tube. Thanks for putting this resource together!

  7. I love a good playlist and this one is incredible! My contributions are "Chicken Soup With Rice" by Carole King (the entire book by Maurice Sendak made into song), and "Oscar Wilde" by Company of Thieves.
    Songs with "book" in the title: "Open Book" by Cake, "Pressed in a Book" by The Shins, "Book of Days" by Enya, and "Bookends" by Simon & Garfunkel.
    How about "Poems, Prayers, and Promises" by John Denver?

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. GREAT LIST! Thank you. Found you thanks to the big G.

  9. There may be some additions here:


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