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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Songs about books: a mix tape

Our favorite songs about books everyone.

1. Akron/Family - Franny/You're Human

"Please Lord give me strength to be nobody
'cause I am not my thoughts'
("Franny and Zooey" by J. D. Salinger

2. Modest Mouse - Bukowski
"Woke this morning and it seemed to me
That every night turns out to be a little bit more like Bukowski
And yeah, I know he's a pretty good read
but God, who'd want to be such an asshole?"
(about writer Charles Bukowski)

"I will wade out 'till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
("I Will Wade Out" by E.E. Cummings)

4. The Cure - Charlotte Sometimes

"Night after night she lay alone in bed, her eyes so open to the dark
The streets all looked so strange
, they seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry"

("Charlotte Sometimes" by Penelope Farmer)

5. Of Montreal - The Past Is a Grotesque Animal
"I fell in love with the first cute girl that I met who could appreciate Georges Bataille

Standing at a Swedish festival discussing Story of the Eye"

("Story of the Eye" by Georges Bataille)

6. Idlewild - Roseability
"Gertrude Stein said "that’s enough"
(I know that that’s not enough now)

Rose, ability. There is no roseability"

("Sacred Emily" by Gertrude Stein)

7. Babyshambles - East of Eden
"There's a slow train rumblin' east of a place called Eden
The wind blowin' in proud as the trees upon the plain

And a stranger's voice talked to me of liberty and freedom"

("East of Eden" by John Steinbeck)

8. How Airplanes Fly - Luna, I Believe in You
"You're strange but in a good way, you keep things interesting
I never know what you'll say next, you always keep me guessing

Who cares if you've got radishes in your ears? Not me!

Maybe they're telling you something we can't hear, something that goes like this"

("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling)

9. Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me to Do the Maths
"We know that we could sell your magazines
If only you would give your life to literature just

Don't read Jane Eyre!"

("Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bront├ź

10. The Decemberists - Song for Myla Goldberg
"Sew wings to your pigeon toes
Put paper to pen to spell out Eliza"

("Bee Season" by Myla Goldberg)

11. Billy Bragg ft Wilco - Walt Whitman's Niece
"My girl had told us that she was a niece of Walt Whitman, but not which niece
And it takes a night and a girl and a book of this kind
a long long time to find its way back
(mentions poet Walt Whitman)

12. Sound Team - No More Birthdays
"Let's speed it up so we can slow back down
Kafka on the shore, ah Kafka on the shore!
Rising up so we can rise back down
Oh Kafka on the shore
("Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami)

13. Kate Bush - Cloudbusting
"I wake up crying. You're making rain
And you're just in reach

When you and sleep escape me"

("A Book of Dreams" by Peter Reich)

14. The Divine Comedy - A Woman of the World
Just you wait - hey, give the girl a break
And a fifty dollar bill will see to that
That ain't enough to feed the cat
Serve up the rats and super rats
Well they just get fatter while she fades away"
("Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote)

"A total w.a.s.t.e. of time, my iron lung"
("The Crying Of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon - incidentally
the same novel that inspired Yo La Tengo's "The Crying of Lot G")

Plus: Did you know?

...The Velvet Underground were named after a book about sadomasochism by Michael Leigh
... Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" refers to Marvin, the chronically depressed robot from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

...Franz Ferdinand's 'Love and Destroy' and The Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy for the Devil' are about the same book: Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita". Also, The Lawrence Arms' album 'The Greatest Story Ever Told" is
a chapter by chapter allegory for the same book, with Brendan's songs functioning as the Moscow chapters and Chris's songs as the Jerusalem chapters.
...Coldplay's "Clocks" makes allusions to Friedrich von Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell"

...Klaxons' debut album "Myths of the Near Future" is named after a collection of short stories by J. G. Ballard and allusions to J. G. Ballard are made throughout the album.
Also, their song "Gravity's Rainbow" is named after the book of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, while "Atlantis to Interzone" references William S. Burroughs' short story collection "Interzone"
...The Divine Comedy song "The Booklovers" mentions more than 70 writers.

...there are more than 500 'wizard rock' bands who draw inspiration for their lyrics exclusively from the Harry Potter series
the band name "The Libertines" was taken from Marquis de Sade's "Lust of the Libertines"
...Green Day
(Basket Case, Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?), Belle & Sebastian (La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie), Aesop Rock (Save Yourself), The Divine Comedy (Gin Soaked), Beastie Boys (Shadrach), Jedi Mind Tricks (Trinity), Komeda (Cathcer), Streetlight Manifesto (Here's to Life), Bloodhound Gang (Magna Cum Nada), Billy Joel (We Didn't Start the Fire), The Lawrence Arms (The Disaster March), The Ataris (If You Really Wanna Hear About It) etc. What do they have in common? They all have references to 'The Catcher in the Rye'.
...several songs on The Rakes' debut album "Capture/Release" reference books. According to singer (and known bookworm)
Alan Donohoe, "We Are All Animals" was inspired by Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation" and Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene". Also, "All Too Human" is named after Friedrich Nietzsche "Human, All Too Human". Donohoe has mentioned James Joyce, Richard Hawkins and Stephen King as some of his favorite writers.


Anonymous said...

Beauuuuutiful post! Great job! :)

Bibman said...

Great post, other song about a book:
killing an arab / The Cure -- l'├ętranger de Albert Camus

Eliza K. said...

thanks :)
yeah I was aware of The Cure song but I had to pick one and Charlotte Sometimes is my favorite. Their song 'Bananfishbones' is also about 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish', which can be found in Salinger's 'Nine Stories', one of my favorite books ever!

stephanie said...

i love books AND music.

Bibman said...

Hi Eliza, I didn't know about the Salinger song, interesting! btw i'm curious to check out the new cure album, hope their inspiration hasn't run dry. Cheers

Agnes said...

Wonderful post, nice one!

erin said...

mmm books and music are absolutely the most wonderful combination... love love love this<3

Eliza K. said...

we appreciate the feedback - it's nice to know there are still some bookworms left out there :)

Obviously there are tons of songs that mention books and I had to leave a lot out, including some really good stuff (Belle & Sebastian for example)...but I need to mention a song that really really really REALLY should have been on there and that I completely forgot about when I compiled the list: "A Spindle, a Darkness, a Fever and a Necklace" by Bright Eyes.

First because the song is really great and second because the book it quotes from ('Mitchell's Moving' by Marjorie Weinmat Sharmat) is probably the cutest children's book ever.

IndigoCrayon said...

Music + Literature = Oh! How wonderful! :)

I just happened to stumble across this. Great post!
It was actually falling in love with The Cure and learning that they had a song tribute to L'etranger that motivated me to pick the book up at the library (and read it, of course. :P ).

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying the blog and soundbytes. A fantastic song about literature is "Book" by sex clark five who are exitedly brain jarring; Or censorship commentary "Books are Burning" by XTC.