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What are some songs with literary allusions?

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  • What are some songs with literary allusions?

    I'm trying to think up some songs for a CD and I want them to all have literary illusions. To give you some examples, the two songs I thought of today were Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" which is about a Coleridge poem and The Cure's "Killing an Arab" which is about Camus' The Stranger. Anymore songs with pretty strong allusions such as these? Entire songs alluding to a work are preferable to just a line or so (such as "Don't Fear the Reaper"'s 'Romeo and Juliet, together in eternity')

    Thanks, guys, I know if anyplace can come up with them it's here.

  • #2
    I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for... but "Ramble On" by Zeppelin is based on Lord of the Rings and "Creeping Death" by Metallica is about the plagues from the Ten Commandments.
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    • #3
      The first thing that popped in my head was the band Shai Hulud, I'm not sure about any of their songs, but the band's name is taken from Frank Herbert's Dune series. Its the term refering to the sandworms as deitys.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by baimun
        I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for... but "Ramble On" by Zeppelin is based on Lord of the Rings and "Creeping Death" by Metallica is about the plagues from the Ten Commandments.


        Thanks! Allusions to more classic literature and poetry would be preferred but if I can't find enough of what I'm looking for I will definitely use some others. I found this page which has several songs on it.

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        • #5
          Wuthering Heights - Pat Benatar
          "Born to Play" MP3 album at iTunes & Amazon.

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          • #6
            Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street is based on a poem by Anne Sexton.

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            • #7
              Thrice - "The Abolition of Man" straight from The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
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              • #8
                It's not a direct reference, but I always think of "Interview with a Vampire" (Anne Rice) when I listen to Moon Over Bourbon Street by Sting and the Blue Turtles Band.
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                • #9
                  From Wikipedia:

                  1984" by David Bowie is one of many songs he wrote about George Orwell's 1984, meant to be a song in a 1984 musical.

                  "40" by U2 is based on the 40th Psalm.

                  "A Rose for Emily" by The Zombies is based off of William Faulkner's short story A Rose for Emily.

                  "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" by Leonard Nimoy retells J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

                  "Battle of Evermore" by Led Zeppelin retells J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, including "Ringwraiths" by name.

                  "Big Brother" by David Bowie is one of many songs he wrote about George Orwell's 1984, meant to be a song in a 1984 musical.

                  Calypso" by Suzanne Vega is sung from the point of view of the eponymous nymph in Homer's Odyssey, as she watches Odysseus sail away.

                  "Grendel" by Marillion is a retelling of John Gardner's novel Grendel, which is a retelling of Beowulf

                  "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Bruce Springsteen is about The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

                  "Highway 61 Revisited" (from Highway 61 Revisited) by Bob Dylan retells the story of Abraham and his son from Genesis, Chapter 22

                  I Robot is an LP by The Alan Parsons Project which retells several Isaac Asimov stories

                  "Narnia" by Steve Hackett is based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

                  "Out of the Silent Planet" by Iron Maiden is based on the movie Forbidden Planet, not the science-fiction novel by C. S. Lewis

                  "Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin retells parts of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, including "Mordor" and "Gollum" by name.

                  "Richard Cory" by Paul Simon is about the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem "Richard Cory."

                  "Ride A White Swan" by T.Rex refers to plot details from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit

                  "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden is a retelling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner

                  "The Sensual World" by Kate Bush is based on the closing paragraphs of James Joyce's Ulysses (Bush wanted to simply set them to music but Joyce's grandson refused permission).

                  "The Small Print" by Muse describes the story of Faust from the point of view of the Devil.

                  "The Snow Goose" by Camel is an instrumental album retelling the same title novel by Paul Gallico.

                  "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" is an LP by The Alan Parsons Project which retells several Edgar Allan Poe stories

                  "Tea in the Sahara" by The Police is about The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. King Crimson also has a song called "The Sheltering Sky" about the same book, although it is an instrumental work.

                  "The Tomahawk Kid" by Alex Harvey (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band), is based on characters from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island"

                  "To Tame A Land" by Iron Maiden tells the story of Dune by Frank Herbert
                  "Tom Joad, Parts 1 and 2" by Woody Guthrie retells The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

                  "Venus in Furs" by The Velvet Underground is about the two main characters from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel of the same name.

                  "We Are the Dead" by David Bowie is one of many songs he wrote about George Orwell's 1984, meant to be a song in a 1984 musical.

                  "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane partially retells Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

                  "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush is a re-telling of Emily Bront

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by the figurehead
                    ]


                    Doh! How could I forget to search Wikipedia? I think this may have been the first time I've looked for something and didn't check wikipedia. Thanks a ton. A lot of those are exactly what I'm looking for.

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                    • #11
                      a lot of the decemberists music is based off of some classic literature. specifically, nearly every song on the album her majesty is in some way related to dylan thomas' under milkwood.
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                      • #12
                        songs by the Manic Street Preachers.

                        probably.
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                        • #13
                          I included two almost exact quotes from The Raven, it is my most proud lyrical moment (overall the lyrics are my bets yet anyway).
                          "It's funny how most people love the dead, once you're dead you're made for life." Jimi Hendrix

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                          • #14
                            Not sure if it counts
                            But "Ziggy Stardust" is a
                            story of President Taft.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by baimun
                              It's not a direct reference, but I always think of "Interview with a Vampire" (Anne Rice) when I listen to Moon Over Bourbon Street by Sting and the Blue Turtles Band.
                              Bad English had one that was a direct reference to Interview. The title escapes me at the moment though...
                              "Born to Play" MP3 album at iTunes & Amazon.

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