Saturday, October 6, 2018

Classic Lit in Song, Part II - NOVA this Week

Observations from my weekly wanderingsusually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

Last week I asked input on Literature that has been adapted into song, and I started it off with three:

Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë)
Don Quixote by Gordon Lightfoot (Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes)
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Since there was no additional input, I broke my own rule and googled it. There were a few, forehead slap – d’oh! shoulda thought of that one moments, and many more that I’d never heard of. Before I get to the other songs though, I will make a few more distinctions. 

I’m not talking about songs that make one or two passing references, without  really being about the book/lit – ruling out songs like Elton John’s So Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or America’s Tin Man. I’m also not talking about really out there, fringe stuff like Leonard Nimoy’s The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins (which is sort of awful). And finally, I’m not talking about songs that were INSPIRED by literature, without really being about the piece of literature, like Guns N Roses’ Catcher in the Rye.

In other words – main stream songs, that are at least minimally retelling of the literature (though with liberal allowance for creative license)

Other songs I found – Well, there are A LOT. I’m pulling out a few. Most pulled from the Wikipedia list

I tip my hat to well-read bands Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian, each with many more literary songs than I listed here.

First, for Brona…
Golden Slumbers by the Beatles (based on Thomas Dekkar poem Cradle Song)
I am the Walrus by the Beatles (forehead slap, right?) (referencing a character from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll)

1984 by David Bowie (1984 by George Orwell)
2112 by Rush (Anthem by Ayn Rand)
40 by U2 (Psalm 40)
Barefoot Children in the Rain by Jimmy Buffett (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)
Brave New World by Iron Maiden (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
The Cask of Amontillado by The Alan Parsons Project (The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica (For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway)
The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen (The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck)
Home at Last by Steely Dan (The Odyssey)
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (II Samuel 11-12 and Judges 16)
House at Pooh Corner and Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins (The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne)
Into the West by Annie Lennox (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Killing an Arab by The Cure (The Stranger by Albert Camus)
Lord of the Flies by Iron Maiden (Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
Lord of the Rings by Blind Guardian (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Lost Boy by Ruth B (Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie)
My Antonia by Emmylou Harris with Dave Matthews (My Antonia by Willa Cather)
Nightfall in Middle-Earth album by Blind Guardian (The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Pigs (Three Different Ones) by Pink Floyd (Animal Farm by George Orwell)
Ramble On by Led Zeppelin (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Richard Cory by Simon and Garfunkel (Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson)
Shadows and Tall Trees by U2 (Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)
Tea in the Sahara by The Police (The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles)
The Thing That Should Not Be by Metallica (The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft)
Thieves in the Night by Black Star (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison)
To Tame a Land by Iron Maiden (Dune by Frank Herbert)
Tom Sawyer by Rush (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain)
Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds (Ecclesiastes 3)


  1. As a long time Emmy Lou fan, I didn’t connect My Antonia with the book, though I read it in high school. Now I’ll have to reread it. I do love that song, sad and beautiful.

    I did try to come up with some songs based on books, but struck out. After reading the list, I kept on smacking my forehead...

    1. Hi Jane. I just listened to My Antonia (song). Beautiful.

  2. This is awesome! I only know a handful of these but I now want to listen to them all!

    1. Hey Dale...I haven't listened to all of them. If I could only recommend one, it would be Gordon Lightfoot's Don Quixote.


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