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Literary Pop Songs

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Article by Derek Flynn © 27 February 2018.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

I recently came across a great post on The Literary Hub called “11 Pop Songs for Literary People”. Included in this piece by Emily Temple are some obvious choices – for instance, “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles:

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear,
And I need a job,
So I want to be a paperback writer,

. . . 

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few.
I’ll be writing more in a week or two.
I could make it longer if you like the style.
I can change it ’round,
And I want to be a paperback writer. . .

to the not quite as obvious – “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane (based on Alice in Wonderland):

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

to the more obscure – the wonderful “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel (based on The Diary of Anne Frank).

But what makes this article particularly good is the comments section, with commentators suggesting various other additions to the list, including, “Rattlesnakes” by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions:

She looks like Eve Marie Saint in On The Waterfront
She reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance

and “There She Goes, My Beautiful World” by Nick Cave:

John Wilmot penned his poetry riddled with the pox
Nabokov wrote on index cards at a lectern, in his socks
St. John of the Cross did his best stuff imprisoned in a box
And Johnny Thunders was half alive when he wrote Chinese Rocks

You can read the original article here, and make sure to check out the comments section to see if there’s any they missed!


Follow Derek online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Derek Flynn runs Writing.ie's SongBook blog, and is an Irish writer and musician. He has a Masters in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. He’s been published in a number of publications, including The Irish Times, and his fiction was featured in 'Surge', an anthology of new Irish writing published by O’ Brien Press with the aim of showcasing “the very best of the next generation of Irish authors”. Online he can be found at his writing/music blog – ‘Rant, with Occasional Music’ – and on Twitter as @derekf03