It’s been a long established way of working in the creative world to look at other artistic spheres for inspiration, and this has very much been the case with musicians and literature. So with that fact in mind, we have compiled 20 songs or albums that have been inspired by novels. And in true music chart style we are going to post them as a double two-part gatefold blog. One with classic stars of rock and pop and one alternative and indie. So, pop pickers, our first cross over top ten is the classic artists!
Animal farm ; 1984 / George Orwell.
David Bowie’s classic Diamond Dogs album was originally supposed to be the soundtrack for a musical based on George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, but the Orwell estate had different ideas and soon put a stop to that.
The fellowship of the ring : being the first part of the Lord of the Rings / by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Mega-decadent 70s rockers Led Zeppelin had a big interest in the occult and all things relating to J.R.R. Tolkien, with references to The Lord of the Rings in many of their songs. Perhaps the most obvious was ‘Ramble On’ from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II which was their musical take on The Fellowship of the Ring. Seemingly Robert Plant was later very embarrassed by the lyrics.
Wuthering heights / Emily Brontë ; with an introduction by Katherine Frank.
‘Wuthering Heights’ was Kate Bush’s debut single, released in 1978. Kate Bush was only 18 when she wrote her career starting smash hit single after watching the last ten minutes of a BBC miniseries of Wuthering Heights.
Frankenstein,or The modern Prometheus / Mary Shelley.
Mega smash hit ‘China in Your Hand’ by eighties soft rockers T’Pau was inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Incidentally, T’Pau took their band name from a Vulcan elder of the same name in the sci-fi series Star Trek.
The master and Margarita / by Mikhail Bulgakov ; translated from the Russian by Mirra Ginsburg.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones was inspired by Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Reportedly the book was given to Mick Jagger by Marianne Faithfull, with the song previously called ‘The Devil is My Name’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ in earlier versions.
Selected poems / Robert Burns ; edited by Carol McGuirk.
‘One Brown Mouse’ by Jethro Tull was inspired by the poem ‘To A Mouse’ by Robert Burns. ‘One Brown Mouse’ appeared on Blackpool rock band Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horses album.
The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Douglas Adams.
‘Paranoid Android’, a darkly humorous single from Radiohead’s OK Computer, was inspired by The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The android in question was Marvin, the original paranoid android.
The Wizard of Oz / L. Frank Baum ; illustrated by David McKee.
‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Elton John was written by Elton John’s long-term song writer Bernie Taupin. Taupin said The Wizard of Oz was the first film he ever saw, and in the lyrics he wanted to reflect on his need to “get back to his roots”. It is regarded by many as one of Elton John’s finest songs.
The essential Paradise lost / [abridged, compiled and with supplementary content by] John Carey.
‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, from their 1994 album Let Love In, was inspired by Paradise Lost by Milton. The hand in question refers to the vengeful hand of God. The song has subsequently been much covered by the likes of by Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey, Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys and many others.
The invisible man / by H.G. Wells ; adapted by Rick Geary.
‘The Invisible Man’ from the album The Miracle by Queen, was inspired by The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, written by drummer Roger Taylor and credited to the band. It has the curious fact of being the only Queen song in which all the members of the band are mentioned by name in the track.