Great rock songs based on classic literary works
Here is a selection of songs that have paid tribute to books, novels, anthologies and short stories.
The Beatles – I Am The Walrus
The name of John Lennon’s meaningless composition of 1967 refers to Lewis Carroll’s Walrus and Carpenter poem, which is included in Through the Mirror in 1871. And if that’s not enough, then the end of the song also includes snippets of Shakespeare’s BBC radio King Lear.
Muse – The Small Print
According to the Muse Supermassive Wiki, this track from the 2003 Absolution album is a retelling of the classic Goethe’s Faust story … but from the point of view of Satan, who carries out a diabolical deal with Student, “Be my slave to the grave, I’m a priest whom God will never didn’t pay. “
Metallica – One
Dalton Trumbo’s famous anti-war novel “Johnny Took a Gun” was written in 1939 about a young soldier during World War I who was injured and loses his arms, legs, eyes, tongue, face … but his mind is still on the alert. leaving him trapped in a useless body, which forces him to consider his fate. This heartbreaking book turned into the same movie in 1971, when the Vietnam War made history still relevant. Metallica used the novel as inspiration for their track “One”, and also included movie clips in the video, while Trumbo embodied the eventful life in a biopic in 2015, starring Brian Cranston.
The Cure – Charlotte Sometimes
Robert Smith loved to pay tribute to literature: Cure’s debut single “Killing An Arab” was a retelling of Albert Camus’ Stranger, and “The Drowning Man” was based on the Gormengast trilogy of Mervyn Peak. Written in 1969 by Penelope Farmer, the book “Charlotte Sometimes” tells the story of a girl who wakes up after the first night in a boarding school and realizes that she was transferred 40 years ago, and everyone takes her for another girl. The 1981 single The Cure was a retelling of the story and was accompanied by a terrible video.
The Libertines – Narcissist
“Narcissist” is the sixth track from The Libertines’ second album, in which Karl Barat took the vocal helm. The composition is filled with references to Dorian Gray, who is the cult character of Oscar Wilde.
Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
This track from the album “Led Zeppelin II” (1969) refers to Tolkien’s book “The Lord of the Rings”: “It was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl, but Gollum, the crafty one, crept and slipped away with her.”
Pixies – Gouge Away
Hey, the Bible is also a book! Black Francis loves to refer to the Bible, and Gouge Away tells the story of Samson and Delilah: “Chained to the pillars, a three-day party, and behold: I shake the walls, they fall … and kill us all.” This is a story about how Delilah cut his hair, taking away his strength, after which Samson was captured by the Philistines and blinded.
Klaxons – Gravity’s Rainbow
Before Gravity’s Rainbow became the new rave anthem of the dance floor, it was the novel by American writer Thomas Pincheon Rainbow of Earth’s Gravity. Considered one of the great American novels of all time, he talks about combining the theme of science and speculative metaphysics with high and low culture … which, in our opinion, is suitable for the new rave …
Nirvana – Scentless Apprentice
This track from the third and last album of 1993 was written by Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl. He takes his inspiration from Patrick Suskind’s 1985 novel, Perfumer: The Story of a Murderer. This is the story of a perfumer – a student who kills women in search of the perfect fragrance, and the song refers to her like this: “I promise not to sell your perfume secrets, there are countless formulas for pressing flowers.”
Joy Division – Colony
Ian Curtis was a great lover of literature: his songs allude to James Ballard (“Cruelty Exhibition”), Nikolai Gogol (“Dead Souls”) and this song, taken from the second and last album “Closer”, refers to a short story by Franz Kafka in 1914 “In the penal colony.”
The Ramones – Pet Sematary
A little trick, since this song from the Brain Drain album was recorded as a soundtrack for the 1983 film “Pet Cemetery” based on Stephen King’s novel. The words of the song summarize the work: “I do not want to be buried in the cemetery of pets, I do not want to live my life again.”
Radiohead – 2 + 2 = 5
The title of this track from the 2003 Hail To The Thief album is a reference to George Orwell’s 1984 work, where the practice of “Double-Thinking” was used by Big Brother’s totalitarian state to rewrite people’s history and opinions. By the way, the line “oh, go and tell the king that the sky is falling” resembles the fable “Chicken Tsyp” …
David Bowie – 1984
Bowie tried to launch a musical version of George Orwell’s dystopia after Ziggy Stardust, but the writer’s widow rejected the idea. Instead, some songs found their way into Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs album, including 1984.