Sting was hardly the first or the last musician to find inspiration in a book; in fact, there are enough book/music crossovers out there that I think I can put together a complete A to Z of Library Rock. You are entering aisle A through I. Please be quiet – people are rocking.
Anthem, by Ayn Rand was the inspiration for Rush’s “2112.”
“Battle of Evermore, Led Zeppelin: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings runs through the Zeppelin catalog, but maybe no more overtly than here.
“Charlotte Sometimes,” The Cure: Penelope Farmer’s children’s book of the same name brought to life by the kings of mope rock.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Blue Oyster Cult: Before it was the setup for the greatest punchline in Saturday Night Live history, this classic rock track was all that some of us found interesting about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
“El Dorado,” Iron Maiden: Maiden make a lot of literary references throughout their discography, this time to one of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems. Why not “Flight of Icarus”? Because this is a deeper cut.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Metallica: Your head is already banging, I may as well keep it moving with Metallica’s take on Hemingway.
“The Ghost of Tom Joad,” Rage Against the Machine: This is actually a Bruce Springsteen song based on Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath, but come on — Rage’s version rocks.
“Horrorshow,” The Scars: I’m going deep into the stacks to pull out this gem based on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Pour your self some moloko and enjoy, my loovely droogie.
I Robot, The Alan Parsons Project: Nobody tapped the city library like the prog artists. Alan Parsons made two entire albums based on books: This one, based on Asimov’s sci-fi classic; and More Tales of Mystery and Imagination, based on Poe’s work.
Coming soon: Unless Kermit was lying to me, “J” is just around the corner.
Related “Why It Matters” pieces: https://jamesostafford.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/45-as-deep-as-any-ocean-as-sweet-as-any-harmony/