Music and books are all too similar in the ways they impact our lives. They are often background characters throughout our experiences, bringing us joy and sadness. Let’s step beyond how they impact us and instead how they impact each other. Here are 5 books that inspired some of our favorite songs.
The dystopian novel by George Orwell is a well known novel addressing themes of power, manipulation, and violence. Its lesser known impact is being the inspiration for rock artist, David Bowie. After his failed attempt to create a musical adaptation of the novel, it instead inspired the beloved album Diamond Dogs. The album features songs titled “1984” and “Big Brother” both direct associations with the book.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a not only a renowned novel and television series, but also the inspiration behind Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”. Mentioning some of the novel’s terms within the lyrics, Mordor, Gollum, and The Evil One, the underlying inspo is undoubted.
The tragic Shakespearean tale, Romeo and Juliet, kickstarted Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” from her 2008 album, Fearless. Although a much lighter and more euphoric version, Swift’s take on the tale follows a similar young, rebellious love. She uses both character names, Romeo and Juliet, in her lyrics and luckily the ending is much happier!
A particular passage in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On The Road” inspired the album, Teenage Dream, by Katy Perry, specifically the song, “Firework”. In an interview with BBC she says, “In the book he was talking about how he wanted to be around people who were buzzing, fizzing and making people go ‘Argh, like fireworks across the sky’. I want to be a living firework.”
This historical fantasy novel follows the emotional meanings of scents, through the life on an orphan in 18th century France, born with an incredible sense of smell. Nirvana was the one to adapt this novel, in their song “Scentless Apprentice”. As one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite books, this song directly parallels the text, however the inspiration goes beyond this one song and can be seen throughout the album, “In Utero”.
Next time you turn on some music, think about where the lyrics might have come from. Maybe the answer will be books!
Read about another Bookish Playlist here!