There’s a reason it’s so ubiquitous in postmodern popular culture. By citing existing works, artists – whether writers, musicians, or whatever – can add another layer of meaning to their own creations.
Musicians inspired by books are certainly not a new phenomenon, and it is a trend that can be observed in several genres. Here we take a look at some of our favorite indie bands and artists who have found their muse in literature. From Greek mythology to contemporary speculative fiction, these musicians have definitely done their reading.
1. Sylvie, Woods
When they first started out as a group, the Antlers seemed more than a little preoccupied with death. For proof, just look at the title of their 2009 LP, Hospice. The record revolves around singer Peter Silberman’s presumably autobiographical tale, which tells a circular story of death, guilt and resentment. On the third track, Sylvie, Silberman moans during the chorus, “Sylvia, get your head out of the oven” in clear reference to how Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide. Silberman said in an interview: âSylvia Plath is weird. I don’t know how I feel for her. I think she is adored by a lot of girls who find this darkness in her life and her writing heartwarming, and I move on. a lot of time trying to decide if it’s a good thing or not. “
2. It’s never over (Oh Orpheus), Arcade Fire
When Arcade Fire announced that they were writing a concept album about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, no one was sure what to expect. But when the disc was finally available to stream online, complete with scenes from the award-winning 1959 film Black orpheus taking place at the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the allegory began to make sense. Take for example, It’s never over (Oh Orpheus). In the film, Breno Mello’s Orpheus tries to save Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) from death, who also participates in the festival. While the song is playing, Orpheus is seen looking for Eurydice at the Missing Persons Office, to no avail. Death has already reached her and Orpheus is unable to recover her. The careful layering of texts dealing with the same myth in a different place and time only serves to deepen the depth of the song.
3. Four winds, Sparkling eyes
The lyrics, “It’s the sum of the man slumped towards Bethlehem,” in the song Bright Eyes Four winds refers to two literary works at the same time. Bright Eyes singer and songwriter Conor Oberst both quotes the famous poem The second coming by WB Yeats, and the collection of essays by Joan Didion which borrows the phrase for its title. Yeats writes: “And what a rude beast, its time has finally come / Slouches to Bethlehem to be born?” Oberst’s words in Four winds are equally apocalyptic and paint a more modern, but equally scary and nihilistic worldview. Likewise, they echo the tone of Didion’s collection of essays, which emphasizes the emptiness and the ephemeral of the 1960s.
4. Ultraviolence, Lana del Rey
If you have read A clockwork orange, the title of the new Lana Del Rey LP, Ultraviolence, probably looks quite familiar. In Anthony Burgess’ hard-to-read classic of Gang Violence in the Not-So-Distant Future, the phrase “ultra-violence” is used to describe the various atrocities committed by the characters in the book, including rape and rape. murder. On the title song, Del Rey hums, “Ultraviolence. I can hear sirens, sirens. He hit me and it was like a kiss.” (It should be noted that she also quotes the controversial song He hit me by the Crystals.) This is certainly not Del Rey’s first literary reference in one of his songs: that of Vladimir Nabokov Lolita had a huge influence on the aesthetics and lyrics of Del Rey.
5. Samson, Regina Spektor
There is a debate over what, exactly, Regina Spektor’s song Samson speaks, especially when she sings, “The history books have forgotten us and the Bible has not mentioned us.” First of all, the Bible Is mention Samson and Delilah, so some have argued that the song is an allegory written from the point of view of the servant who cut Samson’s hair (Delilah did not herself). Alternatively, listeners speculated that this was about caring for a cancer patient, or that Spektor would simply take an artistic license with a well-known story and modify it to suit his own vision. Either way, it’s impossible to deny that the lyrics align with a well-known biblical story where Samson loses his God-given strength after cutting his hair.
6. A good man is hard to find, Sufjan Stevens
Flannery O’Connor is considered one of the major figures of Southern Gothic writing: his short story A good man is hard to find is considered an exemplary piece in the genre, and even served as the inspiration for Sufjan Stevens’ song of the same name. Here, Sufjan writes from the perspective of the Misfit, O’Connor’s anti-hero who adheres to a consistent moral code even if he ends up killing an entire family. Sufjan sings: “Twice, when I killed them, they were once at peace. They were once like me.” This isn’t Sufjan’s first foray into writing about killers: one of her best-known songs is about the life of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
7. 2 + 2 = 5, Radiohead
Indie rock darling Radiohead is no stranger to literary references: first there was the OK Computer Track Paranoid Android, which is essentially a long reference to Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But a few years later came 2 + 2 = 5 over the years 2003 Hello thief, which is a direct reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel that defines the genre 1984. In addition, each Hello thief the track has a subtitle in parentheses; it is The lukewarm. A veiled reference to that of Dante Hell,Hello thief is a record about humanity bypassing the drain on its way to hell and / or apocalypse, and so the song’s barely pre-apocalyptic humans are already âlukewarmâ.
8. Oryx and Crake, The knife
Oryx and Crake the last LP of high-level electro-pop phenomenon The Knife, Shake the usual, refer to Margaret Atwood’s disturbing novel of the same name. Neither song has lyrics, and both consist of sounds that are probably best described as “screeches”. Still, the two manage to conjure the same horror as Atwood’s dark, futuristic novel, and do so against the backdrop of an inevitably political record. Atwood said: “The ‘and if ‘of Oryx and Crake is simply: what if we continue on the road we have already taken? Is the slope slippery? What are our saving graces? Who has the will to stop us? âLikewise, the Dreijer siblings (who make up The Knife) said in an interview with Pitchfork that Shake the usual was intended to raise issues related to feminism and environmentalism as well as a host of other issues that Atwood addresses directly or indirectly in the novel.
This article originally appeared on Bookish.com