Thumbnail image for the cure.jpg
The Cure's first single was inspired by a novel.
School's back in session, and there's nothing better than getting cozy with a good book now

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The 10 Best Songs About Books

Thumbnail image for the cure.jpg
The Cure's first single was inspired by a novel.
School's back in session, and there's nothing better than getting cozy with a good book now that fall is in the air. Duff McKagan knows what I'm talking about-- "Bookstores to me these days are like what my experience was in the past of going to a bar or maybe even a strip club," he said in a past column (here's his picks for summer reads. Maybe it's time for a fall update.) But Duff isn't the only rocker who likes to read. Check out these ten songs inspired by literature-- you may find a new favorite book.

*See Also: The 10 Best Video Game Songs

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10. "The Raven" - Lou Reed

In 2003, Reed wrote an entire two-disc album inspired by the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, with guest appearances from the likes of David Bowie and Laurie Anderson.

9. "Wrapped Up in Books" - Belle & Sebastian

"Our aspirations are wrapped up in books/our inclinations are hidden in looks." Not about a particular work per se, but about the inner life of the bookworm.

8. "A Rose for Emily" - The Zombies

Inspired by William Faulkner's short story of the same name, about a small-town spinster and the aftermath of her death, The Zombies' song retells the tale in song form.

7. "Killing an Arab" - The Cure

Readers of Albert Camus' The Stranger will recognize the scene described in this early Cure single: "Standing on the beach with a gun in my hand... staring down the barrel at the Arab on the ground."

6. "Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones

The opening lines of "Sympathy for the Devil" are similar to the beginning of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which also inspired Pearl Jam's "Pilate" and Franz Ferdinand's "Love and Destroy."

5. "Cemetry Gates" - The Smiths

"Keats and Yeats are on your side while Wilde is on mine." Brought on by his own accusations of plagiarism for quoting Shelagh Delaney and Elizabeth Smart in song, Morrissey invokes Oscar Wilde as his personal patron saint of borrowing others' words.

4. "1984" - David Bowie

Like much of Diamond Dogs, "1984" takes its subject from George Orwell's classic dystopian novel.

3. "Ramble On" - Led Zeppelin

My dad claims that when he was in college, everyone had nicknames based on characters from Lord of the Rings. Led Zeppelin were no exception, apparently, referring to the trilogy in the lyrics "'Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her."

2. "Wuthering Heights" - Kate Bush

Written when she was just 18, Kate Bush's first single tells the story of Wuthering Heights from the perspective of the deceased Catherine Earnshaw as she begs entrance to Heathcliff's window from beyond the grave.

1. "Paperback Writer" - The Beatles

Enough reading, let's write!

Got a favorite song with literary allusions? Add it in the comments!

 
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