Literary Playlist

I’ve been spending a lot of time on long flights, train and bus rides and a lot of that time listening to music. And on my various journeys I was delighted to realise the large overlap between my favourite songs and favourite books. Huzzah! For your amusement I present (in no particular order) my book playlist:

Book Song – Sally Seltmann

I’d rather write a book with characters whose lives unfold 
And bring you coffee in the morning when outside it’s cold
While you read the first draft all you say is ‘this is gold’

The quiet, simple yet ranging music in this song is completely beautiful and the perfect complement to lovely lyrics about writing a book.

Killing an Arab – The Cure

Standing on the beach
With a gun in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand

While I am a fan of The Cure, I actually don’t dig the song that much. It had me completely mystified until I read Camus’ The Stranger on which this song is based. So it makes the literary cut.

Winter for a Year – Arcade Fire

Oh my god a winter for a year
And I cleaned out the back of my wardrobe for a year
Jackets never turn into branches
Not while you’re not here

Narnia! Nuff said.

The Book of Love – The Magnetic Fields

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know

Who doesn’t love Stephin Merritt, the lyricist of our generation.

Write About Love – Belle and Sebastian

I know a spell
That would make you well
Write about love
It can be in any tense
But it must make sense

There are actually a heap of book related songs by Belle and Sebastian, not least the amazing Books EP. I guess it’s to be expected from a band named after a French children’s book. I love the retro feel and writing related subject matter of this song.

Grey Gardens – Rufus Wainwright

Arm wrestle your mother
Simply over
Tadzio, over you 

I thought this was just about the documentary of the same name but the Tadzio is a reference to the lost love of Death in Venice (which you will know, if you’ve been following along, is one of my new favourites)

The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure – The Magnetic Fields

I met Ferdinand de Saussure
On a night like this
On love he said
“I’m not so sure
I even know what it is

I didn’t mean to double up on bands but I dare anyone to find a better song about the father of modern linguistics.

Fiction – The Lucksmiths

Invited to a barbecue
I found refuge in the kitchen
Discussing post-war US literature
With a girl whose upper arm read “fiction”

The Lucksmiths’ witty and wordy lyrics are a perfect match for literary subject matter and as such they have plenty of book related songs. This is my favourite.

1984 – David Bowie

Someday they won’t let you, so now you must agree 
The times they are a-telling, and the changing isn’t free 
You’ve read it in the tea leaves, and the tracks are on TV 
Beware the savage jaw 
Of 1984 

Did you know David Bowie planned to make musical of 1984? Most of the songs based on it are on the album Diamond Dogs. How awesome would that have been?

Exit Music (For a Film) – Radiohead

Breathe, keep breathing
Don’t lose your nerve
Breathe, keep breathing
I can’t do this alone

This song was inspired by Romeo and Juliet story and specifically the moment in the movie Romeo+Juliet where Juliet holds the gun to her head. Baz Luhrmann thinks it’s one of the best exit music songs ever written and I’d have to agree.

Well that’s the list for now. I’d love to hear any of your book related favourites!

*A special shout out should go to my favourite coworker and brother who filled my iPod with delightful music before I left.


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