Music & Literature: Buffett, the Beatles, Metallica, the Stones – They All Write About Books

In today’s overstimulated world there are a plethora of ways to consume beautiful (and not so beautiful) art. One of the most spectacular ways to let great works of art soak in is when they are synergized. More than a hand full of celebrated musicians have written songs about novels. Our social media fans helped me put together this list of music-meets-literature: the sounds of good writing.

Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones was inspired by Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Hemingway’s Whiskey” by Guy Clark was written about none other than Ernest Hemingway. (Performed by Kenny Chesney).

White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane is psychedelically related to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.

In “Love in the Library” Jimmy Buffet sings a book-lovers dream love story:

Love in the library Quiet and cool

Love in the library

There are no rules

Surrounded by stories

Surreal and sublime

I fell in love in the library

Once upon a time

Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” was inspired by the novel of the same name.

Sylvia Plath” by Ryan Adams is written about the author of The Bell Jar.

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, has a song called “The Ghost of Tom Joad” about the hero of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Mumford and Sons also have a song inspired by this character and novel, it’s called “Dustbowl Dance.”

Sufjan Stevens sings “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which is based on Flannery O’Conner’s story of the same name.

Decode” by Paramore was written for the Twilight movies, based on the books.

Hayley Williams, Paramore’s lead singer is a huge Twilight fan and said: “Twilight is the first series of books I’ve ever read. I didn’t get into the Harry Potter series, even though I love the movies. Twilight really caught my attention and held it. I’m really excited to see the book adapted to film and excited that our band gets to be a part of the phenomenon. I chose the title “Decode” because the song is about the building tension, awkwardness, anger and confusion between Bella and Edward. Bella’s mind is the only one which Edward can’t read and I feel like that’s a big part of the first book and one of the obstacles for them to overcome. It’s one added tension that makes the story even better.”

David Bowie’s “1984” is based on George Orwell’s scifi of the same title.

House on Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins is obviously about A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series.

The Beatles are most famous for their heartthrob love songs. But When Paul McCartney’s aunt asked him to write a non-love song, they chose to write about books. (How cool is that?). The song’s lyrics are written in the form of a letter from an aspiring author addressed to a publisher. We love the idea of “Paperback Writer.”

Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” was influenced by The Lord of the Rings.

‎”Calamity” by the Decemberists is a song based on the New York Times best-selling novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

What are your favorite songs about books?

3 Comments

  1. I believe Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” was inspired by Anne Rice’s vampire novels.

  2. Do not forget Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-earth, fully based on Silmarillion!
    They have also musics inspired by Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time serieas, as well as the Song of Ice and Fire, and some Stephen King Books.
    Iron Maiden have tons of musics inspired by books, like The Sign of the Cross (The Name of the Rose), Lord of the Flies, Stranger in a Strange Land, Brave New World and To Tame a Land (Dune)

  3. Fish – Menchmal (based on Aesops fable of the scorpion and the turtle), Marillion – Grendel, Genesis – Unquiet Slumber for the Sleepers…In that Quiet Earth (instrumental, but title is last line of Wuthering Heights), Dave Matthews Band – Rapunzel, Peter Gabriel – Kiss that Frog (based on Grimm’s fairy tale the Princess and the Frog), Cream – Tales of Brave Ulysses, Marillion – Torch Song (references Jack Kerouac), Genesis – Fountain of Salmacis (based on Ovid’s Metamorphosis), Jethro Tull – Mother Goose, Rush – Anthem (based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same title), Sting – Moon Over Bourbon Streen (based on Ann Rice’s Vampire novels), Sting – Sister Moon (reference’s Shakespeare’s sonnet, “my mistresses eyes are nothing like the sun…”), Camel – Nimrodel (yet another Lord of the Rings inspired song), Rush – Tom Sawyer.

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