Wednesday, 6 June 2012

10 Songs Inspired By Fiction

Musicians can get the material for their lyrics anywhere. Most commonly they derive inspiration from their own experiences and maybe even put a little spin on them. There are also times when one work of art can influence another. Movies based on books, video games based on tv shows, songs based on poems. Here are 10 songs that in one way or another were influenced by a work of fiction.

1. "Looking Glass" - Hypnogaja

I could do a whole list on songs about Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, and maybe one day I will. One of my favourites is by LA alt-rock group Hypnogaja, "Looking Glass" captures the magic of the story perfectly and includes most of the characters. The White Rabbit, the Chersire Cat and of course the Red Queen.

2. "Between Angels & Insects" - Papa Roach

The themes in this song are quite similar to the themes of the Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club, though it's more likely the song was inspired by the movie. Some of the lyrics are taken directly from lines that Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden says in the film "Working jobs that you hate for shit you don't need". The video also uses some effects and angles that were used in the flick.

3. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" - Metallica

Metallica have many songs that are inspired by movies or novels "One", "Creeping Death" and "Where The Wild Things Are" are just a few. One of their most epic and popular songs is "For Whom The Bell Tolls" which is obviously based on the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name. That opening riff is actually bass guitar played by the late Cliff Burton.

4. "Bat Country" - Avenged Sevenfold

"He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man" is a quote by 17th century author Dr. Samuel Johnson, which is not only the opening lyrics of this song, but is featured at the opening of Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, which this song is based upon.

5. "Breakfast At Tiffany's" - Deep Blue Something

The biggest hit from this blink-and-you'll-miss-it 90's group was named after one the most popular movies of all time. Starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard the film was based on a novel by the great Truman Capote. Maybe Deep Blue Something hoped to latch on to the astronomical success by using the title. Probably unlikely as the song is more about a failing relationship than the movie.

6. "Mars Attacks!" - Misfits

Here's an interesting one...while this song was written for the soundtrack of the 1996 film Mars Attacks it was rejected by Tim Burton. Though it was the Misfits' hope that it would be included as the movie was based on a short lived series of collectible cards about Martians invading the earth. Parents hated the cards as they mainly featured scenes of violence and terror between Earth and Mars. The Misfits were obviously fans which is why the song seems to have more depth and humanity than the movie. Jerry Only and co. wrote it based on the folklore of their beloved childhood cult-classics. Not from pre-screenings of a movie whihc is normally how artists get new material on soundtracks

7. "Heartlight" - Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond fans kind of blasted him for this one saying it was the beginning of his decline, but I tend to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. It was written after Neil had seen E.T. the Extraterrestrial. The adorable little space monkey's glowing heart at the end of the film inspired the song. Many fans touted Diamond as a sell out and a corporate shill, but it's not like he was singing about E.T! Nothing in the lyrics promoted the movie, it was simply an idea that came to him after watching the film. Art inspiring art...I see no problem with that.

8. "Afternoons & Coffee Spoons" - Crash Test Dummies

This one didn't click for me until one day I was sitting in my OAC (grade 13 for all you non-Canadians) English class reading The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot. Therein is a line that says "... have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life in coffee spoons..." Great poem by the way. If you haven't read it check it out. It's full of teen agnst and the human condition but delivered in such a fresh way...even though it was written over 100 years ago.

9. "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" - Bruce Springsteen

Tom Joad is a character in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes Of Wrath. Springsteen wrote this song for his 1995 Greatest Hits album, but didn't like the rock version, so he shelved it and released it acoustic on his next record, the acoustic Ghost Of Tom Joad. The novel shared many the same traits as Springsteen songs working class mentality, community and perserverance.

10. "Scentless Apprentice" - Nirvana

This song was inspired by the novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind, about a man born with an amazing sense of smell but no smell of his own. He was an apprentice in a perfume shop and becomes a murderer of young girls for their scent. Definitely one of the reasons I choose In Utero as my favourite Nirvana album.


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