Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Books and Music

Cause’ it’s summer again
I was thinking that it just might never begin
After winter and spring It’s good to have the sun on my face again….
 (Thanks to the Wallflowers)

I was listening to the Bruce Springsteen song, The Ghost of Tom Joad, which is based on the character, Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Thinking about it, I became curious about how much books have influenced books. I was amazed at what I found.

Jefferson Airplane hit it big with White Rabbit, which came from Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland.

Counting Crows Rain King is based on the story by Saul Bellows Henderson the Rain King

Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower came from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Surprised me!)

Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Toilken appears to have inspired many singers: Led Zeppelin were big fans of the books and referenced them in many of their songs, Battle of Evermore; Ramble On; Misty Mountain Hop; Over the Hills and Far Away; T.Rex rocked out to the plot of the Hobbit in Ride a White Swan

Tori Amos was inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and sang …..Jamaica Inn.

Iron Maiden seemed to be avid readers: they sang about D-Day in The Longest Day, based on the Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same name; Frank Herbert Dune inspired them with To Tame a Land; When Two Worlds Collide takes Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer story, When Worlds Collide, and make it a song.

David Bowie’s Oh! You Pretty Thing has lyrics from Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews sang a duet My Antonia about Willa Cather’s.... My Antonia

Regina Spektor refers to Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in her song, Oedipus: In Poor Little Rich Boy she refers to a short story of F. Scott Fitzgerald; she also takes from the Bible with Samson, about Samson and Delilah.

Mark Knopfler made a tune out of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon and sang Sailing to Philadelphia.

Genesis based their song A Trick of the Tail on William Golding’s The Inheritors

The chorus of Procol Harem’s Whiter Shade of Pale was from Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale.

The Police sang Don’t Stand So Close to Me, with Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in mind.

Fleetwood Mac touched on mythology with Rhriannon, a character in Triad

The Doors L.A. Woman was inspired by the City of Night by John Rechy

Metallica’s song, One, was based on the book by Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got his Gun; and their For Whom the Bells Toll was based on Hemingway’s book of the same name.

Green Day rocked out with Who Wrote Holden Caulfield? about Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily was turned into a song with the same title by the Zombies.

Pink Floyd based an entire album, Animals, on Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Jimmy Buffett sings about a character from Carl Hiaasen’s Tourist Season in the Ballad of Skip Wiley; then he retells part of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Barefoot Children in the Rain.

Nirvana’s Beans gives us their interpretation of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums.

Suzanne Vega sang Calypso based on a scene from the Odyssey by Homer.

ABBA’s Cassandra is based on a character in the Iliad by Homer

Pink sang Catch-22 about Joseph Heller’s…. Catch-22.

Jimmy Eat World’s Goodbye Sky Harbor is about John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Steely Dan tells us about Ulysses encounter with the Sirens in Home at Last.

The Cure based their song, Bananafishbones, on J.D. Salinger book , A Perfect Day for Bananafish.

How Randy Newman could take the historical book, Guns, Germs and Steal and make a song was beyond me, but he did with The Great Nations of Europe.

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is based on the story of David and Bathsheba with elements of Samson and Delilah tossed in.

The Beatles song I Am the Walrus takes lines from William Shakespeare’s King Lear. They were also inspired by Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and came out with The Fool on the Hill.

The Doobie Brothers took the Ambrose Bierce story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, and came out with the song I Cheat the Hangman.

Coldplay’s Clocks was inspired by Friedrich Schiller’s William Tell.

The Rolling Stones enjoyed Mikhail Bulgakov’s satire, The Master and the Margarita, they gave us Sympathy for the Devil.

Who can forget Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds? Originally done by Pete Seeger, it was taken from chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible…

Poetry inspired songs

The Cranberries Yeats Grave from the poetry of William Butler Yeats

Sheryl Crow sang about summer in All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun, which came from a poem by Wyn Cooper.

Stevie Nicks rewrites Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee and rocks out with it.

Van Morrison took Yeats poem Crazy Jane on God and made a recording with it.

Rush sang Xanadu about Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan.

Memory from Cats was taken from a poem by T.S. Eliot.

Peter Gabriel Mercy Street was inspired by Anne Sexton’s 45 Mercy Street.

Simon and Garfunkel was inspired by Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem Richard Cory and made it into the song of the same title.

Crash Test Dummies thought the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot would be a great song and made it into Afternoons and Coffeespoons.

Even though Eric Clapton wrote Layla for Patti Boyd, it was based on the Persian poem Layla and Majnun….

These is a just a few of the many songs that have been influenced by literature. I had such a good time researching for this was hard time choosing which to include. For those books listed that you’ve read, listen to the song and see if you agree…..

Books and music are two of my favorite things and it was great finding out how they complement each other.

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Roam if You Want To~~~

Roam if you want to; roam around the world

Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, just grab a book and roam around the world…
(Thanks to the B-52’s)

This is the time of year when the winter doldrums can start to set in. I may be one of the few who was doing snow dances…alas they were for naught. I do know I’m tired of the damp, rainy weather and ready for some nicer days. Until then, let your mind take you on a vacation with some books.


Colin Cotterill introduces us to Dr. Siri Paiboun, the national coroner of Laos. How can you pass by a title like “Disco for the Departed”? Paiboun is also a shaman, which is a big factor in how he does his job. First book in the series is The Coroner’s Lunch.

John Burdett has a great character, Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, in his series set in Bangkok, Thailand. No, I didn’t misspell the name~~Jitpleecheep kicks it off in Bangkok 8 with quite the cast of characters.

Let’s go to Communist Russia with Martin Cruz Smith~~starting with Gorky Park where we first meet Moscow’s Chief Homicide Inspector Arkady Renko. Watched closely by the KGB, the Kremlin…Renko is an abnormality in Russia… honest, smart, and doesn’t accept the party line……

James Church takes us, of all places, to Pyongyand, North Korea were we are introduced to Inspector O in A Corpse in the Koryo. Little info about James Church, he is a former intelligence who spent most of his time in Asia.

Alexander McCall Smith and his No 1 Ladies Detective Series take us around Africa~~Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique and many others in the southern parts of Africa are mentioned.

Let’s go to Dublin with In the Woods by Tana French…and see who comes out. Three kids go in, one is found later on. Twenty years later history seems to repeat itself.

I enjoy police Detective Harry Hole in Jo Nesbo’s procedurals’ set in Oslo, Norway. We first meet Harry in Redbreast. Hole can be his own worst enemy at times, but he is fascinating to follow. I am going to say here and now~~~I like Jo Nesbo's series much better then Steig Larson's series...I feel so much better now.
    C.J. Sansom has a great series set in 1545 Tudor England with Matthew Shardlake. The series kicks off with Dissolution. Mystery and historical fiction doesn’t come much better than Sansom.

Andrea Camilleri takes us to Sicily, beginning with Shape of Water,  where we tag along as Inspector Salvo Montalbano solves murders and eats great food!

Dona Leon~~We meet Commissario Guido Brunetti  for the first time in Death at La Fenice, where he takes us around Venice as he solves murders, and here again, he describes wonderful food!

Henning Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander solves murders in Sweden….and surprise! Nothing is as it seems. Take a trip to Sweden and meet Wallander in the first of the series, Faceless Killers.

John le Carre~~it’s le Carre, espionage doesn’t get any better than this. I was hooked with his first one, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and I have been a fan every since.

Daniel Silva…really now, did you think I would forget my favorite series author? Silva takes us all over the world with intrigue, murder, espionage with his hero Gabriel Allon. Allon was introduced in The Kill Artist and has taken no prisoner’s since. Silva has a new one coming out soon, and yeah, I’m first on the list……


Jon Krakauer takes to Nepal, the Himalayas, and an ill-fated climb up Mt. Everest in Into Thin Air. What makes someone want to climb this mountain….with the possibility that they might not make it down.

With Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan we end up in Palestine and listen to the viewpoints of an Arab, a Jew and how the county of Israel came to be. Fascinating history from WWII that I never realized.

In Candice Millard’s Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey the River of Doubt we go with the former president down the Amazon River, and what an adventure we have!

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, where he shares with us his first year there. Some laugh out loud moments as he and his wife experience life in Luberon, restoring an old stone farm house, getting to know his neighbors…and the description of the food and the wine. This one is on my personal book shelf.

I could go on and on about books that take you a place that you have always wanted to go, there are many and I have given you just a few to consider.

Dave Barry said once that reading is a vacation for the mind…treat yourself to one.

Happy Reading!