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By the Book: 7 Literary Tributes in Popular Music

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Have you ever felt so inspired by a good book that you wanted to break into song? Many bands and recording artists have acted on that impulse by working elements of their favorite novels, short stories, or poems into their musical repertoires. Here are a few of our favorite salutes to literature in popular music.

The Doors
More than an homage to architecture, the band name The Doors is a nod to Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, which chronicles the author’s experience of taking the mind-altering drug mescaline. The literary reference goes even deeper as Huxley’s title is taken from a line in William Blake’s work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.”

“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin
It’s no secret that these British rockers were fond of Middle Earth and all of its mythic trappings, but nowhere is J.R.R. Tolkein’s influence more apparent than in the lyrics of their 1969 hit “Ramble On.” This epic ditty contains a translated and paraphrased version of a poem that Tolkein wrote in Elvish. Now that’s dedication.

Modest Mouse
This alliterative band name is derived from the following passage in Virginia Woolf’s short story “The Mark on the Wall”: “I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.” We’re glad they didn’t go with “mouse-coloured people.”

“Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush
This musical homage to Emily Bronte, with whom Bush shares a birthday, tells the tale of the tortured and timeless love of Heathcliff and Catherine. In the song, Bush plays the part of Catherine come back from beyond the grave, bringing scenes from the novel to life with haunting lyrics such as “I’m so cold, let me in your window.” This literary tune, which Bush wrote as a teenager, reached #1 in the UK charts in 1978 and remains Bush’s best-selling single.

The Velvet Underground
Experimental rockers Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLise swiped the name The Velvet Underground from a book of the same name by Michael Leigh that explored the sexual subculture of the early 1960s. In addition to being intrigued by the evocative phrase, band members found the literary reference fitting as Reed had already penned the song “Venus in Furs,” which was named after a novella written by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie
With the narrative arc of a messiah alien behind him, David Bowie turned to literature for inspiration, specifically George Orwell’s 1984. The 1974 album Diamond Dogs features a number of songs, such as “Big Brother” and the disco-tinged “1984,” that Bowie penned in the hopes of adapting Orwell’s dystopian classic for the stage.

“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
Alice’s journey through Wonderland was never a walk in the park, but in this bone-rattling musical reconfiguration of Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale, her experiences and interactions with the fantastical characters of Wonderland take on a harrowing hue.

What are some of your favorite literary references in music?

117 Comments

  1. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 9, 2014 - 9:35 am

    “The Duke and the King” (this band’s very name is a tribute to 2 characters in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain) has an album called “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” the name of a poem by Robert Frost.

    Reply
  2. Dylan -  March 7, 2014 - 10:12 am

    The call of ktulu by Metallica… Im really surprised no one has said that one yet.

    Reply
  3. Noah -  March 6, 2014 - 7:15 pm

    The former alternative rock band My Chemical Romance took its name from Irvine Welsh’s novella collection “Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.” The bassist was inspired by the title after seeing it in the Barnes and Noble in which he worked before the band’s formation.

    Reply
  4. saalian -  March 6, 2014 - 5:48 pm

    Sepultura’s Dante XII was a concept album based on The Divine Comedy. Also their A-Lex album was based on A Clockwork Orange.

    There is also a band called Paradise Lost … perhaps in reference to Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”??

    Reply
  5. Patrick Flood -  March 6, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    My very favorite is Rush’s homage to Ayn Rand’s Anthem,”2112″.

    Which was then ITSELF referenced in the book “Ready Player One”.

    Which was amazing.

    Reply
  6. Galena -  March 4, 2014 - 11:45 pm

    Florence + the Machine’s “Rabbit Heart” video is very Lady of Shalott :)

    Reply
  7. Galena -  March 4, 2014 - 11:41 pm

    Lana Del Rey makes a ton of “Lolita” references in her first album. She also has a song called “I sing the body electric” in tribute to Walt Whitman. There’s a Nietzsche quote in “Gods and Monsters”: “God is Dead”.

    Reply
  8. Dee -  March 4, 2014 - 4:27 pm

    The unpopular alternative band The Boo Radleys is named after the character by the same name from To Kill A Mockingbird.

    Reply
  9. miri -  March 3, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    What about Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”? It’s got a ton of references to Anne Frank’s diary.

    Reply
  10. Jackson D. -  March 3, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    I remember first taking The Police seriously as something apart from a passing fad punk band when I heard the lyric in “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – “just like the / old man in / that book by Nabakov”

    Reply
  11. Lindsey -  March 3, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    The metalcore band ‘Of Mice & Men’ (not to be confused with the alternative pop band ‘Of Monsters and Men’) chose their name from John Steinbeck’s book of the same title.

    Reply
  12. bruce -  March 3, 2014 - 11:01 am

    the drummer for rush writes the lyrics to their songs which are usually baced on novels he has read.his nick name is the professor.my favorite is Red Barchetta.

    Reply
  13. luna -  March 2, 2014 - 8:14 pm

    “the veldt” by deadmau5 is a tribute to ray bradbury on his story the veldt

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  14. michelle -  March 2, 2014 - 8:00 am

    The drowning man by the Cure refers to the deaths of Fuschia and Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast,,

    Starting at the violent sound
    She tries to turn
    But final
    Noiseless
    Slips and strikes her soft dark head
    The water bows
    Receives her
    And drowns her at its ease

    Reply
  15. Boo -  February 28, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    One I haven’t heard mentioned is “Couches in alleys” by Ben Gibbard that is about Jack Kerouac.

    Reply
  16. Jon Woods -  February 28, 2014 - 9:35 am

    One my favorites is “Ripples” by Genesis, which references John Crowe Ransom’s poem “Blue Girls.”

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  17. Michele -  February 28, 2014 - 8:22 am

    “40″ by U2, taken from Psalms 40–almost word for word.
    One of my favorite passages in the Bible, one of my favorite songs.

    Reply
  18. Leah -  February 27, 2014 - 5:48 pm

    Don’t forget “Of Monsters and Men” (a band, clearly referencing “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck)

    Reply
  19. levbeast -  February 27, 2014 - 10:54 am

    Buried Alive by Creature Feature- Collection of EAP stories
    Fodder for the Elder Gods- Creature Feature- Collection of HPL stories
    Tom Sawyer- Rush
    Anthem- Rush
    2112- Rush- The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
    Charles Wallace- Disperition- A Wrinkle In Time (Madine L’Engle)

    Reply
  20. Hammy -  February 26, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    i havent heard of any of these crazy songs lol r they actually crazy i bet their not that gr8 ;) where is the modern day music like macklemore and guy sebastian :)

    Reply
  21. Jackie -  February 26, 2014 - 2:04 pm

    There are a lot. I personally like Muse’s ‘Resistance’ and ‘Undisclosed Desires’. I’m pretty sure the entire Resistance album is a reference to 1984. ‘Welcome to 1984′ by Anti-Flag has an obvious reference in it. The band Of Mice and Men, obviously the book. The many Harry Potter themed bands. Then there are all those Bible references. There are more literary references that I know but can’t think of right now, and that’s bugging me.

    Reply
  22. Maggie M. -  February 26, 2014 - 11:24 am

    2112 by Rush was actually based off of ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. Anthem, off of Fly By Night, is based off of the book ‘Anthem’ by the same author. Also on that album is Rivendell, which is a nod to The Lord of the Rings as well. ‘Something For Nothing’ off of 2112 is also based on ‘Anthem.’ There’s also the song ‘The Necromancer’ off of Rush’s Caress of Steel album that references The Hobbit. ‘Limelight’ also references Shakespeare. Their earlier works were very heavily influenced by science fiction novels. All the lyricist did in his spare time was read, and was noted saying if he wasn’t a professional musician, he would’ve been an English professor.

    Reply
  23. [...] What popular singers & songwriters know their literature? Find out if your favorite bands have tipped their hat to a classical work of literature: 7 Literary Tributes in Popular Music [...]

    Reply
  24. Rootie -  February 25, 2014 - 9:51 am

    What are lyrics but poetry set to music? Literary references in literature are a long tradition.
    BTW “Turn, Turn, Turn” was recorded by the Byrds, but Pete Seeger wrote it. [If I read the Bible into a recording device, is it the Bible by Rootie?] The lyrics, except for the title and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music. Seeger wrote it in about 1959.

    Reply
  25. Andrew Delunas -  February 22, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard”, from their eponymous first LP was inspired by Gandalf of Lord of the Rings fame.

    Reply
  26. wolf tamer and iron miner -  February 22, 2014 - 3:19 am

    More songs reference the Bible than any other book!

    Reply
  27. Gray -  February 21, 2014 - 6:53 pm

    Dying is Fine by Ra Ra Riot is mostly a poem of the same name by ee cummings.

    Reply
  28. C Ross -  February 21, 2014 - 12:33 pm

    The Fugs took their name from the bowdlerization of the F-bomb used in Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead.” Mott the Hoople’s name came from the title of a Willard Manus novel producer Guy Stevens read while serving time for drug possession.

    Reply
  29. Thomas Daubert -  February 21, 2014 - 10:57 am

    How about Rush’s song “Xanadu” based on Coleridge’s well known poem, or “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” also a Coleridge poem reworked by Iron Maiden?

    Reply
  30. Mariel -  February 20, 2014 - 5:49 pm

    “Timshel” by Mumford&Sons… East of Eden… surprised no one said this yet

    Reply
  31. Mo -  February 20, 2014 - 8:09 am

    I have to say I am shocked that no one referenced Steely Dan’s “Home at Last” which is based on the Odyssey by Homer.

    “I know this super highway,
    This bright familiar sun,
    I guess that I’m the lucky one

    Who wrote that tired sea song,
    Set on this peaceful shore,
    You think you’ve heard this one before

    Well the danger on the rocks is surely past,
    Still I remain tied to the mast
    Could it be that I have found my home at last,

    Home at last

    Reply
  32. Tiera -  February 19, 2014 - 7:48 pm

    The song “Maybe it was Memphis” has a line that says,
    “Read about you in a Faulkner novel”

    Reply
  33. ed -  February 19, 2014 - 7:46 pm

    The Police also mention Beneath the Sheltering Sky in Tea in the Sahara

    Reply
  34. Susan -  February 19, 2014 - 10:29 am

    “Killing an Arab” by the Cure, banned until it was realized that the song referenced Camus’ “The Stranger”.

    Reply
  35. jeff -  February 13, 2014 - 1:46 am

    Ina Goda Davida ( The Bible), Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolfe (Arabian Nights), Every Good Boy Deserves a Favor by The Moody Blues (A Child’s Garden of Grass), Nostradamus I & II by Al Stewart (the writings of Nostradamus), Kashmire by Led Zepplin (Beneath the Sheltering Sky), Turn Turn Turn by the Byrds (Psalms the Bible), Don’t Stand So Close To Me by the Police (Lolita), an argument could be made for Steely Dan’s Bablyon Sister from Lolita as well, ……….

    Reply
  36. Stephanie -  February 12, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Tom Sawyer by canadian rock band Rush

    Reply
  37. Jon -  February 11, 2014 - 6:08 pm

    Surprised no one has mentioned Mastodon’s “Leviathan” which is based on Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

    Reply
  38. Mary -  February 10, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Am I the only person that has begun to find tedious references to spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors? It’s possible the people just don’t know any better. Or it may be an honest mistake. Or it may be that it is being sent from a phone. I don’t know about anyone else, but my phone is not going to pass any English or spelling classes any time soon. Swype is the death of spelling and grammar.

    Reply
  39. Dave -  February 9, 2014 - 11:17 pm

    silverchair was NOT named after a book! The band members were phoning into a radio station to request that they play “Sliver” and “Berlin Chair”. They misspelt the first and suddenly ‘combined’ the two and thought ‘silverchair’ sounded good.

    Reply
  40. Pam -  February 9, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    Oh, and only like a whole lot of people write songs about one AWESOME book. Give you a hint:

    Needtobreathe

    Keith and Kristyn Getty

    Switchfoot

    Relient K

    …y’all still guessing about this book? It’s… THE BIBLE!!!!!! Bet you didn’t see that coming! ⚡⚡

    Reply
  41. jeff steinbarge -  February 7, 2014 - 11:56 pm

    Where do I begin? Suzanne Vega’s Calypso (The Odessy), XTC’s Jason and Arrgonuats , Sting’s Moon over Burboun Street (Interview with a Vampire), Cream’s Tales of Great Ulysess, Edgar Winter’s Frankenstien, Steely Dan (name comes from Bourough’s Naked Lunch), Alan Parsons’ I Robot and Tales of Mystery and Imagination………

    Reply
  42. Sean -  February 7, 2014 - 1:50 am

    Well, there is a band called, “Of Mice & Men”, the reference is obvious there. The band, “Animals As Leaders”, got their name from Daniel Quinn’s, “Ishmael”, and, “The Human Abstract”, got their name from a William Blake poem of the same name.

    Reply
  43. Seb -  February 6, 2014 - 6:17 pm

    ‘Love Story’, by Taylor Swift – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (‘I’m standing there on the balcony’, ‘Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone,’ and ‘My daddy said stay away from Juliet’ among other references.)

    Reply
  44. Evan -  February 6, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    Anybody think of nirvana’s scentless apprentice that was after a book. Or the Ramones had pet semetary, that was from a stephen king book

    Reply
  45. Peter -  February 6, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    Pretty sure the title song off “Diamond Dogs” is about Delany’s scifi novel “Dhalgren”

    Reply
  46. GYAB -  February 6, 2014 - 2:50 am

    Hmm…if you’re going to write an article about literary allusions, it might help to spell the authors’ names correctly: Tolkien, not Tolkein.

    Reply
  47. Ann -  February 5, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    This guy on the picture here obviously wants to be Benedict Cumberbatch ᕙ( ^ₒ^ c) <('o'<)
    (っ-●益●)っ ,︵‿ *Fangirling*

    Reply
  48. nil rajput -  January 8, 2014 - 11:47 am

    you can also large collection of music/ images/ videos/ android apps from this website I just found while browsing: http://www.goople.com

    Reply
  49. Mikka -  January 6, 2014 - 10:19 am

    Speaking of Iron Maiden and Metallica: They both quote H.P. Lovecraft “… in the strange aeons even death may die”. First on the cover of “Live After Death”, and latter in the actual song (anybody knows which?).
    Speaking of E.A. Poe and Iron Maiden: Murders In The Rue Morgue.
    It alwas cracks me up when Bruce from Iron Maiden introduces “The Rhyme…” with: “this is what not to do if the bird s…s on you”

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  50. Ian Hargrove -  December 30, 2013 - 8:01 am

    I have to mention Emilie Autumn. She’s done plenty of lit-inspired songs, but my all time favourite has to be Shalott.

    Reply
  51. Catherine -  December 27, 2013 - 8:01 am

    Not a book, but my favorite literary reference in music –

    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. This song is the inspiration for Iron Maiden’s longest song (at thirteen minutes and 42 seconds in length).

    IRON MAIDEN in 1984 (powerslave album) did a song of the same title which tells the story in a more modernized language, but does include a couple of direct quotes, including the most recognized lines where the men have become stranded in an unmoving sailing ship with no wind at all and dying of thirst, surrounded by the undrinkable salty ocean water:
    “Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.
    Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
    Nor any drop to drink.”

    Reply
  52. Tralfamador75 -  December 19, 2013 - 7:34 am

    Solaris (Hungarian progressive rock band) – The Martian Chronicles

    Reply
  53. Jillian -  December 17, 2013 - 3:04 pm

    One of my favorite songs and books-”Great Expectations” by Gaslight Anthem. One of the verses mentions Estella from the Dickens novel. The song is actually what led me to read the book.

    Reply
  54. Jacqueline Simonds -  November 26, 2013 - 9:53 am

    In the Police’s song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” there’s a line referring to the teacher’s obsession that compares his feelings to “that book by Nabokov” (Lolita). In “The Dangling Conversation” Simon and Garfunkel sing “And you read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost…” Here are some others: http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Music/Literature-in-Songs-17799.html

    Reply
  55. Teresa Coffey -  November 21, 2013 - 5:57 pm

    Alan Parsons Project did an entire album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, where each track was based on an Edgar Allen Poe’s stories

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  56. reha -  November 21, 2013 - 7:43 am

    Thank you to Dani!

    Reply
  57. nick -  November 20, 2013 - 11:43 am

    “We are all of us in the gutter,
    But some of us are looking at the stars.”

    Quotation from Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan”

    used in The Pretenders “Message of Love” .

    Reply
  58. Jojo -  November 20, 2013 - 10:25 am

    I like Belle and Sebastian’s line “Reading Judy Blume / but you came too soon…” from the song ‘Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie.’

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  59. Anna -  November 20, 2013 - 9:38 am

    Also Metallica – “One” based on Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” -

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  60. Susan -  November 20, 2013 - 7:14 am

    “Killing an Arav” by the Cure is based on Camus’ The Sreanger

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  61. Mambisa -  November 20, 2013 - 6:55 am

    How about The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” with its reference to “Lolita,” which even mentions Nabokov in the lyrics?

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  62. Alison -  November 20, 2013 - 2:16 am

    Probably anything by Dani Filth, of Cradle of Filth. He makes so many references throughout the band’s 20-year history of amazing albums (especially the older ones, as is always the case somehow) to literature, folk stories, tales of old, King Arthur and Avalon, Diana, ancient religions and Gods and Goddesses, Biblical ‘history’, and so many other wonderous things I never would have learnt about otherwise. Thank you to Dani!

    Reply
  63. Hailee Rogers -  November 19, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    Invisible Monsters was referenced in the song ‘Time to Dance’ by Panic! at the Disco in their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.

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  64. Sarah -  November 19, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    Lana Del Rey:
    - Lolita
    - Off To The Races

    Based upon Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”

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  65. Mark Haber -  November 19, 2013 - 9:16 am

    When I saw The Doors I was hoping you would reference Louis Ferdinand Celine’s “Journey to the End of the Night” from their song End of the Night.

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  66. Emma -  November 19, 2013 - 9:07 am

    The song “Off to the Races” by Lana Del Rey is all about Lolita. In fact, the first line of the song is “Light of my life, fire of my loins.”

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  67. Andy -  November 18, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    The Smiths’ “Cemetry Gates” is about plagiarism in literature. See John Wilde’s comment above.

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  68. Michael -  November 18, 2013 - 6:38 pm

    To keep going with the literary/music connection, you cite “Venus in Furs” and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who just happens to be Marianne Faithfull’s grandfather!

    Reply
  69. kaygastby -  November 18, 2013 - 6:38 pm

    The American Football song Letters and Packages references Salinger’s For Esme, With Love and Squalor, which I love.

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  70. Dave -  November 18, 2013 - 4:46 pm

    Not much Country on this list. How about Wayron White’s “The Picture of Dory and Grey”?

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  71. John Earnest -  November 18, 2013 - 3:20 pm

    The FUGS, from 1960′s, sang William Blake’s How Sweet I Roam’d

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  72. Steve -  November 18, 2013 - 7:43 am

    Lou Reed put out The Raven, his tribute to Poe

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  73. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 18, 2013 - 5:55 am

    @mariposa22:
    Thanks. My dad really loves U2; he has about two dozen of their albums. Maybe when I’m older, I’ll like 80′s and 90′s music too.

    Speaking of which, Saturday nite on the X Factor was 80′s Night. One girl, Rion Paige (she’s one of my favorites), is only 13 and thought the Spice Girls were from the 80′s. But she did great on her song. My favorite contestants on the X Factor this year (in no particular order):
    >Rion Paige (awesome voice)
    >Jeff Gutt (if you saw him perform you’d agree)
    >Sweet Suspense (bring them back!!!)
    >Restless Road (they’re Simon Cowell’s favorite too)
    Why, why, why couldn’t Carlito Olivero or Ellona Santiago have been eliminated instead of Sweet Suspense?

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  74. Lilac -  November 17, 2013 - 10:22 pm

    English band Alt-J’s song “Fitzpleasure” is based on the prostitute Tralala in Hubert Selby Jr.’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn”

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  75. Giles Flower -  November 17, 2013 - 8:55 pm

    Bowie’s Jean Genie was written in reference to French author, Jean Genet, was it not?

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  76. ray -  November 17, 2013 - 8:54 pm

    Green Day’s “Who wrote Holden Caulfield”…for Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’…inspirational

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  77. Rebecca -  November 17, 2013 - 6:19 pm

    “Rainbow Warriors” by CocoRosie is an adaptation of Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha.

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  78. Julianne M. -  November 17, 2013 - 5:56 am

    Has anybody taken a look at Mumford and Sons? “The Cave” is very reminiscent to the Siren Story of the Odyssey, where Odysseus tells his crew to “tie him to a post and clog his ears”. I also feel like “Dust Bowl Dance” has connotations relating it to the many Depression-era books of Steinbeck.

    Florence and the Machine also has some songs like this. “Over the Love” on the Great Gatsby soundtrack holds so many references to the book that all the other artists on the album pale in comparison when regarded in terms of accuracy and literary savvy.

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  79. Dave Leavold -  November 17, 2013 - 4:04 am

    Bowie makes another literary reference in the title of his song, ‘The Jean Genie,’ which is an allusion to the French writer, Jean Genet.

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  80. mary elizabeth -  November 16, 2013 - 7:09 pm

    The name of the ’60s band Every Mother’s Son (“Come on down to my boat, baby) is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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  81. Rereke Whakaaro -  November 16, 2013 - 1:42 pm

    The Alan Parsons Project – has produced a number of themed albums based on literary works – I Robot, by Issac Azimov; The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells; and Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allen Poe (I particularly like “The Raven”).

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  82. Babs -  November 16, 2013 - 12:19 pm

    Lolita by Vladimir Nakobov, referenced by Lana Del Ray in her song, “Off to the Races” and possibly “Diet Mountain Dew.”

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  83. lsj -  November 16, 2013 - 8:31 am

    DeadMau5 put the Ray Bradbury short The Veldt to music recently.

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  84. Shannon -  November 15, 2013 - 10:11 pm

    Franz Ferdinand’s “Ulysses”, based somewhat off Homer’s “The Odyssey”, and not to mention a number of Vampire Weekend songs. Also, “Phrazes for the Young” by Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) based his album off the book by Oscar Wilde called “Phrases and Philosophies for Use of the Young”. Mumford & Sons penned the song “The Cave” after Plato’s “Allegorey of the Cave”. Lana Del Rey’s song “Off to the Races” mentions “Scarlett singin’ in the garden”, perhaps referencing Gone With the Wind, and also her song “Lolita”, which mentions Lolita by Nabakov.

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  85. Ren -  November 15, 2013 - 9:28 pm

    I guess it’s time I run far, far away; find comfort in pain,
    All pleasure’s the same: it just keeps me from trouble.
    Hides my true shape, like Dorian Gray.
    I’ve heard what they say, but I’m not here for trouble.
    - Tears and Rain – James Blunt

    An obvious plug to the Oscar Wilde great.

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  86. Autumn -  November 15, 2013 - 8:59 pm

    “Annabelle Lee” by indie group We Govern We is an excellent rendition of E.A. Poe’s poem by the same title. Somehow it manages to capture both the sadness of the speaker’s loss and the elation of his love for Annabelle Lee.

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  87. Cliff -  November 15, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    Elton John’s, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” should have definitely been on the list. It’s not only a classic it’s a favorite amongst many fans as he references to the “Wizard of Oz” in his lyrics with genius

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  88. KilljoyQueen -  November 15, 2013 - 3:12 pm

    any body think of the fact the My Chemical Romance (as in the band name ) was in Shakespeare ( pardon any spelling or grammar errors please )

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  89. Liza with a Z -  November 15, 2013 - 10:28 am

    There is an album by Bad Company named “Desolation Angels” which is from a Jack Keruouac novel.

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  90. Ryk -  November 15, 2013 - 9:29 am

    Metallica did Call of Ktulu (The Call of Cthulu-H.P. Lovecraft), The Thing That Should Not Be (The Shadow Over Innsmouth-H.P. Lovecraft), and [Welcome Home]Sanitarium (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-Ken Kesey)
    Anthrax did Among the Living (The Stand-Stephen King), Misery Loves Company (Misery-Stephen King), and Skeletons in the Closet (Apt Pupil-Stephen King). Oh and you can’t forget Led Zeppelins love for Hobbits.

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  91. Zhovanga -  November 15, 2013 - 5:21 am

    Sting and the Police have many literary references. Ghost in the Machine is a nod to Koestler. Don’t Stand so Close to Me mentions “the book by Nabokov (Lolita).” Synchronicity is a book (theory) by Carl Jung. Just a few.

    Reply
  92. warren -  November 14, 2013 - 10:37 pm

    belle and sebastian from a children’s book by aubry. uriah heap from a character in oliver twist. steppenwolf from the book by hesse. joy division from a novel about the nazi’s called house of dolls. titus andronicus from shakespeare. genesis from the bible.

    Reply
  93. Lissette -  November 14, 2013 - 9:19 pm

    Mumford & Sons’ “Role Away Your Stone” is based of G.K. Chesterton’s “Saint Francis of Assisi”

    Aussie band Silverchair got their name from the 4th book in the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series, “The Silver Chair”

    Reply
  94. Mike W -  November 14, 2013 - 7:59 pm

    Metallica has a couple of good ones too. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” describes a scene in that Hemingway story, and “The Call of Ktulu” is an instrumental interpretation of “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft. (The misspelling of Cthulhu was intentional, since calling the correct name would summon the monster). “The Thing that Should Never Be” also refers to this story.

    Glad to see someone already mentioned Rush’s album “2112.” In the album’s liner notes, the band specifically mentions “the genius of Ayn Rand.”

    Reply
  95. mariposa22 -  November 14, 2013 - 7:27 pm

    The Police song Don’t Stand So Close to Me, “Just like the old man in/That book by Nabokov”, a reference to the author’s work Lolita. Cream has a song called Tale of Brave Ulysses.

    Pierre: here is a link to the lyrics for A Whiter Shade of Pale: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/procolharum/awhitershadeofpale.html

    John Wilde: I think the whole point of the article was to get people thinking about how many bands have names and songs that were inspired by books and poems.

    awesome365(Maddie): This article is all about bands that either got their name from a written work and/or have written songs about or inspired by or mention lines from written works. Hope that clears things up for you.

    wolf tamer and tree puncher: You’re only in 7th grade, there’s still time for you.

    Reply
  96. Aiden Graham -  November 14, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    Hold on! We cannot forget “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica!! Ernest Hemingway? One of the more commonly known in the metal side of our music.

    Reply
  97. Nikki J -  November 14, 2013 - 4:35 pm

    I love the band name “Of Monsters and Men” — spin off of “Of Mice and Men”

    Reply
  98. Frankie -  November 14, 2013 - 4:00 pm

    Oh, another one I forgot to mention: Mumford and Sons in Roll Away Your Stone.

    “Stars hide your fires, these here are my desires” is from Macbeth, when Macbeth is wondering if he should kill the king(Act 1 scene 4 I believe.)

    However, the true quote reads, “Stars hide your fires/ let not light see my black and dark desires”

    Reply
  99. Frankie -  November 14, 2013 - 3:56 pm

    My Chemical Romance took their name off an Irving Welch novel: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.

    The Airborne Toxic Event also took their name from a novel; it’s in a section of White Noise by Don DeLillo.

    Reply
  100. William Antonelli -  November 14, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    The end of the second verse of Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day” is a direct quote from Blake’s “The Tyger.”

    When the stars threw down their spears
    and watered heaven with their tears…”

    Reply
  101. Pierre -  November 14, 2013 - 10:27 am

    Yesterday there was a comment in which some lyrics from “A Whiter Shade of Pale” were quoted. I wanted to write them down but now can’t find the comment. Why was it removed & can you please reprint it for me?

    Reply
  102. Gabriella Carnevale -  November 14, 2013 - 9:59 am

    Time To Dance by Panic! At The Disco is based off of Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

    Reply
  103. Charles Bright -  November 14, 2013 - 7:16 am

    Also, Peter Gabriel’s song “Mercy Street” off of his hit 1986 album “So” which is a tribute to the poetry of Anne Sexton. Beautiful song.

    Reply
  104. Charles Bright -  November 14, 2013 - 7:15 am

    How about the fact that Steely Dan got their name from a sex toy in William S. Burroughs’s novel, “Naked Lunch”?

    Reply
  105. Alaska -  November 14, 2013 - 6:01 am

    Bright Eyes references The Unbearable Lightness of Being in a beautifully written song called “Tereza and Tomas”

    Reply
  106. Donny Peterson -  November 14, 2013 - 4:47 am

    Rush – 2112 based heavily off of Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

    Reply
  107. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 14, 2013 - 2:09 am

    never heard of any of these except Kate Bush & Led Zeppelin. i’m a 7th grader & not big on music from before my time tho…

    (if u have a problem with my comment, see the article about texting.)

    Reply
  108. John Wilde -  November 14, 2013 - 1:26 am

    If neither Morrissey or The Smiths are found on this list, then this is hardly a list at all.

    Reply
  109. David Clothier -  November 14, 2013 - 12:40 am

    The pop group Supertramp, who were big in the 70′s and 80′s, took their name from the book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, by William Henry Davies.

    Reply
  110. denzgab -  November 13, 2013 - 10:43 pm

    Its really awesome to know these things: I would rather read a lot of books not mathematics and philosophy books rather a novel that perhaps would inspire me to write a song [someday] because I love music, yes I do.

    Reply
  111. Anthony S. Picco -  November 13, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    Modest Mouse also mentions Bukowski in a song on the album “Good News For People Who Love Bad News”

    Reply
  112. DJ MichaelAngelo -  November 13, 2013 - 8:30 pm

    the amazing song & remix by dance/pop artist Amber called “Yes” where the chorus lyrics borrow lines almost verbatim from James Joyce’s 1922 novel “Ulysses” (specifically Molly Bloom’s stream-of-consciousness soliloquy during the final portions of the book): “…and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.”

    Reply
  113. awesome365(Maddie) -  November 13, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    ~ I really don’t get this, but if I did I would think that it was cool.
    Probably…….

    Reply
  114. Jon -  November 13, 2013 - 2:12 pm

    Dire Straits… “Romeo and Juliet.”

    Indigo Girls’… “Virginia Woolf.”

    Who doesn’t like Rush’s “Tom Sawyer?”

    And, well too many references from Robert Hunter’s songs to even begin to list.

    Many more…

    Reply
  115. Reshma -  November 13, 2013 - 1:03 pm

    The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil is based on Bulgakov’s Master i Margarita — one of my all-time fav books!

    Reply
  116. Felix machel -  November 13, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Fazer dawlond do programa

    Reply

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