Friday, 17 February 2012

Discussion: Music Inspired By Books

Today I want to discuss music. And books. Well, music inspired by books, to be specific.

Before I get to my rambling, I'll just put the discussion questions here:
1. Do you listen to music while you read?
2. Do you ever have certain songs that remind you of a certain book?
3. What do you think of music inspired by books?
4. What kind of music do you like? Do you have any bands or songs you'd recommend to me or Julie?
Onto the point of this:

I was listening to Timshel by Mumford and Sons earlier and that song is inspired by East of Eden by John Steinbeck and there's other songs based on books out there if you look for them. Indiana by Meg and Dia - I've loved them for years but it took me ages to find out that that song of theirs is actually about the character Indiana in the book Indiana by George Sand (I bought that book because of the song). 

Timshel isn't the only Mumford and Sons song with some lit-inspiration, from their wiki page:
Much of Mumford & Sons’ lyrical content has a strong literary influence, its debut album name deriving from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The track “Sigh No More” includes lines from the play such as Serve God love me and mend and One foot in sea and one on shore. The song “Roll Away Your Stone” is influenced by Macbeth. […] Additionally, “The Cave” includes several references to The Odyssey, also referencing the “Allegory of the Cave”.

Both “Timshel” and “Dust Bowl Dance” draw heavily from the John Steinbeck novels Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, respectively.
There's also a bunch of people on youtube who write songs about books (particularly John Green books, like this one based on The Fault in Our Stars, or this one, or this one based on Looking for Alaska - there's more John Green ones but some are spoiler-y)... There's a lot of awesome youtube musicians out there but there's also a lot of stuff that's not so good and sometimes there'll be a great song but it's lacking a great voice or great production quality to do it justice.

There's a whole genre of music that you've probably heard of called Wizard Rock dedicated entirely to Harry Potter which is just - wow. My favourite is Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls (because while a lot of the wrock bands are more - novelty, that one is a band I'd listen to whether it was singing about Harry Potter or not), this song in particular:

I love music. Aside from books, music is probably one of my biggest addictions - again, aside from books, it's actually one of the things Julie and I bonded over (I've been known to force music recommendations on people quite a bit). I'm not musically talented, sadly (although piano, guitar and ukulele are on my, "Learn to play, betch!" list), but I wish I was.

If I was, I'd write songs about books. 

I wish more musicians who love to read would write songs about books - not only is it a way to pimp out their favourite books, but it's also kind of...lovely. The way books can inspire people to make music in the way they inspire people on youtube to make fan trailers and people to make fan art or write fanfiction.

I like when art inspires the creation of more art and music is one of my favourite art forms along with books - so I like it when the two go hand in hand.
Some more examples of songs inspired by books (the books/stories they're inspired by are listed below the playlist):

Inspired by Literature by Lanna Lovely on Grooveshark

Don't Let Me Fall by Lenka (inspired by a book of short stories by Miranda July)
Howl by Florence and the Machine (inspired by gothic horror stories)
Monster by Meg and Dia (another song inspired by East of Eden
Quasimodo by Lifehouse (pretty obvious but, it's inspired by The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
The Art of War by Anberlin (another obvious one, titles are the same)
These Bones by Dashboard Confessional (apparently based on Twilight)
Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles (inspired by The Psychadelic Experience)
Golder Slumbers by The Beatles although the version in the playlist is a live acoustic cover by Mumford and Sons (inspired by the poem Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes by Thomas Dekker)
Cath by Death Cab For Cutie (inspired by Cathy from Wuthering Heights)
There's more than that (bands like U2, Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc. all have songs inspired by literature), but I'll stop the examples there. Here's a wiki page with lists of songs that retell works of literature if you want to look up some more and another list of songs inspired by books.

There's a bunch of bands that get their names from literature too: Of Mice and Men, Death Cab For Cutie, Belle and Sebastian, Atreyu, As I Lay Dying, Paradise Lost, Sixpence None the Richer, The Velvet Underground, Modest Mouse, etc.
So yeah, what do you guys think of music based on books? Do you know any I haven't mentioned (youtube musician or famous bands or - just anything)?

And do you listen to music while you read? I used to but these past few years, I've found it too distracting but there's still some songs that instantly remind me of books (like the song When it Rains by Paramore will forever remind me of reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer - the first time round, back when the flaws didn't bother me and it wasn't so annoyingly...everywhere).

You guys have traded book recs with us before, so do you have any music recs instead? I'm always looking for new ear crack to listen to (and I like everything from metal to classical although I tend to hover around mostly in the indie/acoustic/rock kind of genre).

OH! Almost forgot, do you know any books that have been inspired by songs? I have one on my shelves (Remembrance by Michelle Madow was apparently inspired by Love Story by Taylor Swift which I think is awesome) and I've gotten story ideas from songs before, so do you know any other books based on songs?



  1. I LOVE this post! Music and books are the two great loves of my life, with film making a close third. I remember when I first listened to the Mumford & Sons album and caught a few of the Shakespeare references. I was ECSTATIC!!!

  2. The Cave isn't actually about the allegory of the cave. It's a reference to Chapter 5 of Chesterton's "Francis of Assisi", and much of the song is directly quoting this source. Chesterton speaks of Francis as being so radically transformed by his encounter with God that he is like one who entered a cave and crawled through the earth, emerging on the other side, walking upside down on his hands, and seeing the world not as built up but rather as hanging down, dependent on God.



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