Literary Songs


Jun 21 2006, 4h30

Hit me with some. I'm looking for songs about literary works/inspired by literary works or literary figures. Preferably streamable, but I'll make an exception to my usual uptight policy of only tagging streamable stuff, as I wouldn't mind having them as a reference list. So far I've got:

Wuthering Heights
Sun in My Mouth
Bernice Bobs Her Hair
A Woman of the World
Three Sisters
White Rabbit
Diamond Dogs
A Rose for Emily
Killing An Arab
Houses in Motion
Fool on the Hill
I Am the Walrus
The Crying of Lot G
Riki Tiki Tavi
La Chanson de Prevert (only because the original Gainsbourg song isn't streamable)
Pauvre Lola
Angela Carter
Sympathy for the Devil


Histoire de Melody Nelson
Hmm I'm not sure what The Raven is like, so I've just tentatively tagged the title track.

Some of these I found thanks to the Songs Inspired By Literature database. You can look up the works the songs are based on there.

Which have I read from the list?

Breakfast At Tiffany's('Woman of The World'), 1984, The Outsider ('Killing An Arab'), 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair'... umm I think that's it, maybe Wuthering Heights but I can't remember. And 'Lucy' is the only poem from there I'd previously sat down and read, but any song that is a poem put to music, you could technically count, as you've just had it read to you. ;)

Click here to listen to the tag.

Artist connections:
Serge Gainsbourg
April March
The Divine Comedy
Lou Reed
Jefferson Airplane
The Beatles
David Bowie
The Cure
Joy Division
Kate Bush
Suzanne Vega
Talking Heads
Roxy Music
Jack Frost
The Rolling Stones


  • MrModernRock

    You would be right Patti. Sting refers to this at the very end of the song: Just like the old man in the book by Nabokov. Anyway. Cannot forget about this one. RATM does a cover of this Bruce Springstein song - The Ghost of Tom Joad.

    Jun 21 2006, 4h50
  • Pukey_

    Bjork's Sonnets/Unrealities XI is also a cummings poem. Pattern Recognition by Sonic Youth - Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. Odyssey by Deerhoof maybe counts.

    Jun 21 2006, 4h56
  • hickorywind

    Cemetry Gates by The Smiths might qualify, it says something like Keats and Yates are on your side while Wilde is on mine.

    Jun 21 2006, 5h02
  • moonlitkitty

    What about the Natasha Bedingfield lyrics - Read some Byron, Shelley, and Keats Recited it over a hip-hop beat. Ahaha just kidding, can't stand her.

    Jun 21 2006, 5h14
  • hoofer

    Neutral Milk Hotel's seminal indie CD In The Aeroplane Over The Sea ( is largely based around Anne Frank, so I think that qualifies?

    Jun 21 2006, 5h50
  • red_apple_falls

    Syd Barrett - Golden Hair Lyrics from a James Joyce poem.

    Jun 21 2006, 5h50
  • red_apple_falls

    Slowdive covered Golden Hair although I've never heard their version.

    Jun 21 2006, 5h57
  • coldgirlfever

    I've got: Modest Mouse - Bukowski? & Summerteeth was apparently influenced by Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

    Jun 21 2006, 6h05
  • whenyousleep

    The Mountain Goats - Love Love Love makes reference to the character Raskolnikov from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

    Jun 21 2006, 6h24
  • moonlitkitty

    The Go-Betweens - The House That Jack Kerouac Built, Karen and Here Comes A City.

    Jun 21 2006, 6h25
  • moonlitkitty

    Also you can tell me which of these you've read. Karen lyrics: 'Helps me find Hemingway Helps me find Rene Helps me find Brett Helps me find Chandler Helps me find James Joyce' Here Comes A City: 'And why do people who read Dostoyevsky always look like Dostoyevsky?'

    Jun 21 2006, 6h32
  • Sahara82

    Gnawa Diffusion - Gazel au fond de la nuit poem by Louis Aragon

    Jun 21 2006, 7h45
  • norzi

    Richard Ashcroft - Brave New World

    Jun 21 2006, 8h15
  • fantom_slobode

    Morphine - Kerouac :) also, i thought that Fool on the Hill was inspired (in some roundabout way)by tarot card reading, not by literature... so why is it on your list? nice idea though

    Jun 21 2006, 13h40
  • MrModernRock

    You would be right Patti. Sting refers to this at the very end of the song: Just like the old man in the book by Nabokov. Anyway. Cannot forget about this one. RATM does a cover of this Bruce Springstein song - The Ghost of Tom Joad.

    Jun 21 2006, 21h59
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    My tag books has 63 tracks, most of which are titled from novels or writers. I also have tags for pynchon, vonnegut and burroughs but they are probably duplicated in books (if I remembered). My favourite song of this nature is Song From Under the Floorboards by Magazine, which is based on Notes from Underground

    Jun 21 2006, 23h32
  • moonlitkitty

    Cool, Auto, I'll have a listen and add some from them. I'm also going to steal some of your cat ones for my 'meow' tag. fantom - It's based on 'Tom Jones' by Henry Fielding. Someone's even made a site dedicated to their connection, thought it's quite light on content.

    Jun 22 2006, 3h55
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    And I've taken some of your meows into my cats. (And some of your songs that mention... into my stars which has a similar concept)

    Jun 22 2006, 11h09
  • moonlitkitty

    There's a bit of a global tag happening for 'songs that mention...' that you might want to check out. Another one I thought of is The Triffids - 'Tender Is The Night'. I'm not sure if it's about the F. Scott Fitzgerald book, but it does seem to have a similar theme. Just discovered there's a Jackson Browne song by that title too, but I'm not familiar with it. And Blur's 'Tender' has that title as it's opening line, but I don't think I'd count that.

    Jun 22 2006, 11h21
  • Grimnebulin

    Simon and Garfunkel probably have a few. 'For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her' is supposedly about Emily Dickinson. The Doors' 'End of the Night' is inspired by (and recites) William Blake. (I've read 1984, Alice in Wonderland and The Jungle Book, oh and some Poe. (I also read Dostoyevsky...:D))

    Jun 22 2006, 12h05
  • RamonMercader

    Sonic Youth - Mildred Pierce (James M. Cain) - Stereo Sanctity (P.K. Dick's Radio Free Albemuth) Serge Gainsbourgh - Beaudelaire (I think the title of the poem is Le Serpent Qui Danse, in Les Fleurs du Mal) - Evgueny Sokolov (by himself :) ) The Velvet Underground - Venus in Furs (by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch) Whole albums: Isis - Panopticon (both Bentham's book and Foucault's Discipline & Punishment) Mastodon - Leviathan (Moby Dick) (not my bag'o'tea, but you never said it had to be good music) Nurse With Wounds - Chance Meeting on A Dissecting Table (Lautréamont's Chants of Maldoror) Band names: Père Ubu (several plays by Jarry) I read that the Velvet Underground was also the title of a an erotic/s&m novel. I'm not sure about that one though.

    Jun 22 2006, 13h54
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    Raskolnikov is mentioned in a Magazine song too: I'd've been Raskolnikov but Mother Nature ripped me off from Philedelphia

    Jun 22 2006, 13h56
  • moonlitkitty

    I read that the Velvet Underground was also the title of a an erotic/s&m novel Tis true. I snuck a quick read of a couple of pages of someone's copy once hehe.

    Jun 22 2006, 13h59
  • RamonMercader

    Also, I just remembered Eno+Byrne : My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (by Amos Tutuola, I haven't read that one)

    Jun 22 2006, 14h34
  • red_apple_falls

    Sonic Youth - Mote based on a Sylvia Plath poem.

    Jun 22 2006, 14h43
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