The Best Records Based On Books & Comics: Staff Picks

Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ narrative was borrowed from Emily Brontë. The charming devil The Rolling Stones give their sympathy to stepped straight off the pages of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘The Master And Margarita’. And Gary Numan probably questioned whether friends are in fact electric because of Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’. These are just some of the more famous examples of songs based on books (sadly, none of which made our staff picks list).

We’re feeling literary following the launch of our Bookogs and Comicogs marketplaces! To celebrate, we’re talking about our favorite records based on books and comics. When it comes to songs and albums based on books, they’re everywhere once you start looking for them. Some are obvious, some weave in a familiar character, others you may not realise have been inspired by a novel, poem or comic unless you’re familiar with the source material.

Let us know some of your favorite songs and albums based on books! If you’re in need of more inspiration, browse through Bookogs and Comicogs.

Take a look at our favorite records based on books or comics:

Best records based on books and comics: Danny Elfman - Batman The Animated Series

Danny Elfman – Batman The Animated Series

Batman from the animated series is hands down my favorite interpretation of the character. I’m a pretty big Danny Elfman fan, too. I’d love to own the Harley Quinn variant release from SDCC 2014 someday. That artwork is amazing!

– Nicole, Product Owner

Best records based on books: Myriam Gendron Not So Deep As A Well

Myriam Gendron – Not So Deep As A Well

Myriam Gendron’s beguiling renditions of Dorothy Parker‘s poems have stuck with me since this record was released and I bought it sight-unseen on a recommendation. I don’t usually gravitate toward this kind of extremely minimal singer-and-guitar folk music, but this record is that good. Simple on the surface, but complex with any serious examination, the songs match the poems perfectly.

– Jason, Developer

Best records based on books and comics: Nilsson The Point

Nilsson – The Point

How about a record that came with a comic? If that counts, then definitely Harry Nilsson’s The Point. This was the first record that I ever played on my own at age three. I’m sure the tripped out artwork by Gary Lund was what drew me in. I play this record often, and treasure that my copy still has the comic with it.

– Tasha, Community Success Manager

Best records based on books: David Bowie Diamond Dogs

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

Bowie wanted to create a full-scale musical adaptation of Orwell’s classic, 1984, but was denied the rights by Orwell‘s estate. And thus, Diamond Dogs was born. It’s a scaled down version, but nearly every track on the album alludes to the book in some way (1984, Big Brother, Candidate, We Are The Dead). Outtake, ‘Dodo’ has some of the more obvious references; “He thinks he’s well screened from the man at the top/ it’s a shame that his children disagree/ They coolly decide to sell him down the line/ Daddy’s brainwashing time”. Seek out that track, it’s worth it.

– Jess, Search Engine Marketer

Best records based on books and comcis: Coheed And Cambria Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV | Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness

Coheed And Cambria – Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV | Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness

This release chronicles the third installment of a comic book series, The Amory Wars, written by Claudio Sanchez (lead singer).

– Alfred, Operations Manager

Best records based on books: Pink Floyd Animals

Pink Floyd – Animals

Another favorite inspired by Orwell, Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ is loosely based on Animal Farm and illustrates classes in society as animals during a time of social and political unrest in the 70s.

– Bailey, Integrated Marketing Manager

Yep, another vote for Animals. What can I say? It is that damn good. Not an adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm so much as a modern extension on that work. Still, the influence is unmistakable. And what did they get for Roger Waters‘ literary extrapolation? Maybe the most consistently impressive set of lyrics over the course of an entire album in the Pink Floyd discography. For my money, there is no gem more overlooked in the band’s catalog, and Animal Farm’s influence plays a not insignificant role in lending the album the gravity necessary to take on such classic status. And, yeah, it doesn’t hurt that David Gilmour‘s instrumental work during “Dogs” is pretty much his finest moment. So if you get tired of all them fancy words, just listen to the sweet licks and think about class struggle or somethin’.

– Tom, Community Success Coordinator

Best records based on books: Neutral Milk Hotel In An Airplane Over The Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel – In An Airplane Over The Sea

Widely inspired by The Diary Of A Young Girl (bka The Diary Of Anne Frank), Jeff Mangum and his band built one of the quintessential indie/lo-fi/anti-folk/everything-fits records in music history. A mural painting composed by eleven songs that contains vivid imagery of two-headed boys, kings of carrot flowers, Jesus Christ and Nazis, among many other characters. The contrast between the rawness of the music and the explosiveness of the lyrics made it for an instant classic that still sounds fresh almost twenty years after its release date.

– Javier, Community Success Coordinator

Best records based on books: Nirvana In Utero

Nirvana – In Utero

The second track on In Utero, Scentless Apprentice retells Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Great book (and movie too).

– Claire, Managing Director NL

Best records based on books: Actress R.I.P.

Actress – R.I.P.

An album of abstract electronica inspired by or based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. I haven’t made it through the ten thousand lines of verse that make up the epic poem so I’ll just take Actress’ word for it. The tunes are killer regardless.

– Karl, Developer

Best records based on books: Nick Lowe So It Goes

Nick Lowe – So It Goes / Heart Of The City

“So It Goes” was written and recorded by Nick Lowe in 1976, 7 years after Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. In Slaughterhouse-Five, the phrase “so it goes” is used whenever there is mention of death – repeated more than 100 times throughout the novel. Nick Lowe’s power pop single at first listen doesn’t seem to quite match up with Vonnegut’s fatalistic use of the phrase, but the lyrics definitely capture a similar theme. Another interesting tidbit: the original UK pressing of this single includes the following messages in the A-side dead wax: “Earthlings Awake”. Perhaps a reference to Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians, the alien race that experiences reality in four dimensions that is mentioned in several Vonnegut novels?

– Kirsten, Product Owner

Best records based on books: Bruce Springsteen The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Loosely based on John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ and Dale Marharidge’s ‘Journey To Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass’, was billed as a return to ‘Nebraska’ vibes by the press, but dig deep into this record and you’ll find some of Springsteen’s greatest storytelling. Lyrically, it’s perfect. Side note: If anyone wants to drop $150+ on the LP pressing from 1995, I’ll cherish the gift from you forever!

– Jeffrey, PR and Strategic Partnerships

Best records based on books: Our Lady Peace Spiritual Machines

Our Lady Peace – Spiritual Machines

Struggled with this one a bit. It’s likely that I love many albums that are based on books, I just don’t realize it. But an obvious one that comes to mind is Our Lady Peace’s Spiritual Machines. I haven’t listened to this album since I was a teenager, but from ages 13 to 15, this CD was on constant rotation in my Discman. The album is based on Raymond Kurzweil’s 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines. Years later when I figured that out, I had a brief moment in my life where I was quite drawn to Kurzweil’s work, and have been fearing the impending robotic uprising ever since!

– David, Community Success Lead

Best records based on books: Bo Hansson Saga Om Ringen

Bo Hansson – Saga Om Ringen

One of the best psychedelic rock albums I’ve heard. I still don’t have this masterpiece but it will be part of my record collection very soon… yeah, I know there are tons of versions of this album.
 This is obviously based on Lord Of The Rings, 
but don’t let the title fool you. This is not merely a soundtrack-wannabe, this albums is shaped with feelings and emotions. I can literally hear the colors of the music and feel the images of the story. Even if you don’t like this story/book/movie, this is art music completely independent of what it’s based on. This should have been used in the movie, but perhaps these tunes were too good for a film. 
I think this is my most valuable random music discovery of the past 2 years. Fans of Mike Oldfield, go check this.

– Esther, Community Success Coordinator

Best records based on books: Dire Straits Romeo And Juliet

Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet

Not a big Dire Straits fan, possibly just heard too many bad cover versions of their songs at weddings, but luckily there are a few of their songs that have escaped that fate and this is one of them. The song sounds gentle and sweet, but Mark Knopfler manages to get this feeling of disappointment and despair across, without even raising his voice.

– Lilian, Content Marketing Specialist

Best records based on books: Dun Eros

Dün – Eros

This Dün record references Frank Herbert’s Dune universe and is probably insufferable to most listeners. To me, it’s a goofy Prog masterpiece and easily one of the best Zeuhl-inspired releases I’ve ever heard.

– Tim, Community Success Coordinator

 Feeling literary? Add these book and comic inspired records to your collection!

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  • Dec 29,2017 at 7:58 pm

    Cult of Luna – Somewhere Along the Highway (2006)

    Monumental post-metal album. Guitarist Erik Olofsson states in an interview that this release focuses on “Male loneliness – I was very inspired by a book by J.M. Coetzee [Life & Times of Michael K] about a man in South Africa with a hare lip. [The character] escapes from everything and lives off the earth eating only pumpkins. Johannes [Persson] had similar ideas for the lyrics about loneliness, it all has a kind of countryside vibe to it.”

    Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (2008)

    The title is a reference to Judges 14:8 in the Bible. It tells the story of Samson, who tore apart a lion and when he returned, noticed a swarm of bees and some honey on the lion’s carcass. The album continues the partial trend of Earth material being influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, with certain songs named after phrases from the book (for example, “Hung from the Moon” and “Engine of Ruin”).

    Drone doom pioneers’ interpretation with post-rock and country influences.

  • Dec 29,2017 at 7:43 pm

    Great list.

    I’d like to add and recommend Om’s ‘Conference of the Birds’ from 2006.

    The music itself is lumped into doom/stoner metal, but it’s more unique-sounding than most of the genre’s outputs with middle-eastern, minimalist and psychedelic influences. It’s a two-track album composed of only bass, drum and hypnotic vocal work. The lyrics in large parts are cryptic, and the music is based on and influenced by a Persian literature piece The Conference of the Birds aka Speech of the Birds from 1177. I haven’t read it yet as it’s not easy to find, but I’m highly intrigued to read it.

    ‘In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents human kind from attaining enlightenment.’

  • Aug 30,2017 at 2:06 pm
  • Aug 25,2017 at 10:47 pm

    Crown Of Creation by Jefferson Airplane.

    The words are just lifted from the pages of John Wyndham’s book The Chrysalids (named Re-Birth in the US). Not only that, but they’re lifted in huge big chunks and just set to music – ‘Soon you’ll obtain the stability you strive for, in the only way that it’s granted – as a place among the fossils of our time’ – I think is almost word for word. I knew the tune really well before reading the book and was totally blown away to see it all written down. Wyndham should get a songwriting credit. I don’t think he’s even acknowledged…

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