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Elmore’s Favorite Literary Songs

stack-of-booksOf all the presumptions and stereotypes that come along with being a musician, being studious definitely does not come out on top of the list. For most, it doesn’t even make the list. But plenty of musicians love to curl up on the tour bus couch and read a few pages from a New York Times bestseller as much as the next guy. Here are some popular songs that were inspired by works of literature. George Orwell and J.R.R. Tolkein seem to be favorites among the musically inclined, but the literary inspirations on this list range from the mundane to the obscure and prove that these artists have certainly done their homework.


“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” by Pink Floyd 

Album:  Animals

Inspiration: Animal Farm by George Orwell









“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

Album: A Night at the Opera

Inspiration: The Stranger by Albert Camus

“2+2=5” by Radiohead

Album: Hail to the Thief

Inspiration: 1984 by George Orwell








“All I Wanna Do” By Sheryl Crow

Album: Tuesday Night Music Club

Inspiration: Fun by Wyn Cooper

“Clocks” by Coldplay

Album: A Rush of Blood to the Head

Inspiration: William Tell by Friedrich Schiller








“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police

Album: Zenyatta Mondatta

Inspiration: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan

Album: John Wesley Harding

Inspiration: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley








“Catcher in the Rye” by Guns N’ Roses

Album: Chinese Democracy

Inspiration: The Catcher in the Rye

“Rivendell” by Rush

Album: Fly By Night

Inspiration: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien







“1984” by David Bowie

Album: Diamond Dogs

Inspiration: 1984 by George Orwell

“Pattern Recognition” by Sonic Youth

Album: Sonic Nurse

Inspiration: Pattern Recognition by William Gibson








“Tom Sawyer” by Rush

Album: Moving Pictures

Inspiration: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

“Cassandra” by ABBA

Album: The Visitors

Inspiration: The Iliad by Homer








“Exit Music (For a Film)” by Radiohead

Album: OK Computer

Inspiration: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen

Album: The Ghost of Tom Joad

Inspiration: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck








“We are the Dead” by David Bowie

Album: Diamond Dogs

Inspiration: 1984 by George Orwell

“Charlotte Sometimes” by the Cure

Album: Faith

Inspiration: Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer








“I am the Walrus” by the Beatles

Album: Magical Mystery Tour

Inspiration: The Walrus and the Carpenter

“Killing an Arab” by the Cure

Album: Boys Don’t Cry

Inspiration: The Stranger by Albert Camus








“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones

Album: Beggars Banquet

Inspiration: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov; Charles Baudelaire

“Moon over Bourbon Street” by Sting

Album: The Dream of the Blue Turtles

Inspiration: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

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“My Antonia” by Emmylou Harris

Album: Red Dirt Girl

Inspiration: My Antonia by Willa Cather

“Big Brother” by David Bowie

Album: Diamond Dogs

Inspiration: 1984 by George Orwell








“How Beautiful You Are” by the Cure

Album: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

Inspiration: Les Yeux des Pauvres by Charles Baudelaire

“No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin

Album: Houses of the Holy

Inspiration: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien








“Pet Sematary” by the Ramones

Album: Brain Drain

Inspiration: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

“Prince Caspian” by Phish

Album: Billy Breathes

Inspiration: Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia by C.S. Lewis








“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin

Album: Led Zeppelin II

Inspiration: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Tea in the Sahara” by Sting

Album: Bring on the Night

Inspiration: The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles








“ReJoyce” by Jefferson Airplane

Album: After Bathing at Baxter’s

Inspiration: Ulysses by James Joyce

“Soma” by the Strokes

Album: Is This It

Inspiration: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley








“Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream

Album: Disraeli Gears

Inspiration: The Odyssey by Homer

“Tom Joad” Parts 1 and 2 by Woody Guthrie

Album: Dust Bowl Ballads

Inspiration: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck








“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

Album: Surrealistic Pillow

Inspiration: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“Ulysses” by Franz Ferdinand

Album: Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Inspiration: The Odyssey by Homer









“Bukowski” by Modest Mouse

Album: Good News for People who Love Bad News

Inspiration: Charles Bukowski

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