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