Literary sounds

A lot of bookish people I know are also obsessed with music.  It seems to me that the gene that accounts for compulsive reading and the almost psychotic belief that characters and situations on a page are as real as our next door neighbor and her cat is the same that allows us to catalogue our lives through the music we were listening to at the time important things were happening.  In the last weeks of my pregnancy, for instance, I vividly remember sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  I also remember walking to Lamaze classes while listening to an odd mix I’d made that included music from Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Oasis, and Stevie Nicks, among other wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-on-the-same-tribute-album artists.

Driving in to work this week, I’ve been listening to my latest bizarre playlist featuring Sting’s haunting “Moon over Bourbon Street,” which was, of course, inspired by Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire.  That tune got me thinking about other great literary songs that I’ve loved, like Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” and Suzanne Vega’s “Calypso.”  Literary and music geek that I am, I get positively giddy when confronted with a great song that references a beloved book or literary character.

So, tell me, what are your favorite literary songs?  (Maybe my next playlist will be a collection of book inspired music!)

P.S.  Here’s a performance of “Moon over Bourbon Street” which offers the added bonus of Sting speaking French:

6 Responses to Literary sounds

  1. I’ve always felt that “time machine” correlation between music and events in my life. During the last year as I wrote & edited my novel, I listened to the same playlist over and over. That playlist, mostly alternative stuff like 30 Seconds to Mars and such, became the soundtrack to my story. And since my story is so emotional, I now find that when I listen to those same songs, I’m pulled back into the turmoil & fear of my novel and while I love my story, I find that I just can’t live in those moments any more. They’re scary and sad. So when I hear those songs, I have to skip to the next one. In fact, I’ve now chosen never to listen to that playlist again.

  2. Rowenna says:

    When it comes to literary songs, some of my favorites are Loreena McKennitt’s versions of classic poetry set to music–The Highwayman, The Lady of Shallot. They capture the tone of the poetry so well–and are super-enjoyable as backdrop music to a long drive or housecleaning blitz.

  3. Dorian says:

    Miriam, what’s your favorite Oasis song?

  4. Miriam says:

    Definitely “Wonderwall” although that whole album was great. Rowenna, I haven’t thought of McKennitt in ages, but used to like her sound a lot back in the ’90s.

  5. All that comes to mind right now (although I enjoy a good distraction from the mundane tasks of the day) is my ex-husband pointing out that “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is Lolita or inspired by the novel. (That observation had nothing to do with our breakup; standing room only tickets at a six hour Clash concert I encouraged him to attend was a contributing factor.)

  6. Dorian says:

    You should really listen to “Slide Away” and “Whatever” by Oasis. They are about love and youth, so depending on the circumstances in your life…

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