From novel to note: 5 songs inspired by books | Featured - Music Crowns

From novel to note: 5 songs inspired by books

Everyone knows artists often find their muse in a variety of mediums. So, it comes as no surprise that some of the greatest songwriters have taken their inspiration straight out of the library.

From classic literature to the odd grammar lesson, here are 5 tracks which turned novels into notes for World Book Day.

5. ‘Oxford Comma’ Vampire Weekend 

Not really much to say on this one, is there? Vampire Weekend’s ‘Oxford Comma’ takes shots at a pretentious lover with clever literary quips.

An infectious beat paired with an opening line no one could forget: “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?”, this song is sure to get your inner bookworm riled-up or celebrating the indie band’s clear disdain to the divisive piece of punctuation.

4. ‘Wuthering Heights’ – Kate Bush  (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte)

Maybe the most prolific song with a literary reference, Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ tells the tale of Emily Brönte’s gothic novel through the eyes of the ghostly Catherine Earnshaw.

Bush’s haunting vocals as she calls to her lover, Heathcliff, to open the window and let her in (“Heathcliff / it’s me, Cathy / Come home / I’m so cold”) conveys the eerie spirit of the book perfectly.

We’re cheating a little here, though. Bush hadn’t even read the book at the time she wrote the song, instead taking her inspiration from a BBC film adaption.

3. ‘Same Drugs’ by Chance the Rapper (Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie) 

On ‘Same Drugs’, Chance the Rapper uses J.M. Barrie’s childhood classic, Peter Pan, as a metaphor for two friends growing apart: “When did you change?/ Wendy, you’ve aged / I thought you’d never grow up”.

A heartbreaking listen, Chance has described ‘Same Drugs’ as the hardest song on his Grammy-award nominated debut album, Coloring Book. 

2. ‘Paranoid Android’Radiohead (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)

Taken from the British rockers’ third studio album, OK Computer, ‘Paranoid Android’ takes its title from Marvin, the miserable little android in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The band listened to the audiobook of the novel on the bus during the tour for their second album, The Bends.

Frontman Thom Yorke ended up choosing the title as a self-deprecating joke, citing that he thought Marvin’s ‘I’m so depressed’ outlook was how people who listened to Radiohead might perceive him.

1. ‘Atticus’The Noisettes (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird inspired The Noisette’s hit, ‘Atticus’. Influenced by the book’s protagonist of the same name, paying homage to Atticus courage and integrity throughout the book.

The first line even gives a nod right to the novel, with Shingai Shoniwa singing: “To Kill a Mockingbird is to silence the song that seduces you”.

Madeleine Dunne

While studying multimedia journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, Madeleine began writing for several publications including Transistor, Vegan Connections, and GigSlutz. In 2018, she became the music editor for Vegan Connections before joining the Music Crowns team as a staff writer and digital assistant. @kohlgrrl

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