Posted May 13, 2013 by in Fresh Ink

A Book Lover’s Mixtape: A Playlist of Songs Based on Books

Summer is just around the corner and it’s a great time to update reading lists and playlists for long, lazy days at the beach or just relaxing on the balcony. In the spirit of sunshine, soft-covers, and serenades, I’ve made you all a little mix-tape to kick off the season. There are tons of songs based on books out there, but these ten are especially great!




1. “Romeo and Juliet” by The Dire Straits (covered here by The Killers) is a fairly obvious and quite wonderful opener. I love the verse:

Juliet says, “hey it’s, Romeo, you nearly gave me a heart attack”

He’s underneath the window, she’s singing

 Hey, la, my boyfriend’s back”

You shouldn’t come around here, singing up at people like that

Anyway what you gonna do about it?



2. Regina Spektor’s quirky ballad, “Oedipus,” based on the great ancient Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles.



3. “Ulysses” by Franz Ferdinand (based of course on James Joyce’s Ulysses, the epitome of the modernist novel):



4. ”Heathcliff, it’s me!” Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” is based on Emily Bronte’s famous lovelorn work of the same title and is the eclectic singer’s biggest selling single.






5. “1984″ by David Bowie. Fun fact about everyone’s favorite glam rocker: he wrote an entire album for a musical adapted from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that, tragically, was never produced.



6. “Shakespeare’s Sister” by The Smiths references the section in the trail-blazing work A Room of One’s Own where Virginia Woolf invents the character Judith Shakespeare (sister to William). Virginia’s Judith is meant to illustrate all of the doors that would’ve been closed to a woman with Shakespeare’s writing talent and the tragic consequences of denying women the right to education.



7. Joni Mitchell’s “Night of the Iguana” is a lyrical interpretation of themes of the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. “The jasmine is so mercilessly sweet” :



8.  ”Alice” by Stevie Nicks is based on Lewis Carroll’s  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: a fitting, fantastical choice for everyone’s favorite mystical rocker (also check out her song “Annabel Lee” based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe)


9. Coldplay’s “42.” In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the number 42 is  ”The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.”  The song seems to play with this idea in its refrain of “those who are dead are not dead, they’re just living my head”




10. “Brave New World” by Iron Maiden, based on the dystopian novel of the same name by Aldous Huxley.


Do you have a favorite song based on books? Let us know in the comments below!




Feature image: epiclectic / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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Maritime gal friday with two degrees in literature and a love of magic realism, typography, and poetry in all its forms.