looking for songs (vaguely on topic, really)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Aug 30 15:39:10 EDT 2004

deborah quested:

>there's a theme mix I've been wanting to make, but I can think of so few
>songs which might fit on it.  So far I've got:
>Piper at the Gates of Dawn -- Pink Floyd
>Prince Caspian -- Phish
>Wind in the Willows -- Van Morrison
>You see the theme, I hope?  Popular songs (as opposed to explicitly
>children's songs) about children's literature.  But I'm stuck there,
>with two _Wind in the Willows_ songs and one Narnia song (which is
>really about _Voyage of the Dawn Treader_, not _Prince Caspian_).
>If I expand to include adult literature, I come up with
>Calypso -- Suzanne Vega (The Odyssey)
>Mrs. Robinson -- Simon and Garfunkel (The Graduate, and I think it is
>pushing it to use a song specifically written for the film version of a
>and then I get stuck.

Jefferson Aeroplane, "White Rabbit".  (before they started changing their
name every time I turned round, that must have been, looking at the record.

If you'd count songs based (loosely) on traditional folk tales aimed at
children, Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra recorded a song called "How
Could Red Riding Hood?" back in 1977.

It includes the lines
"How could Red Riding Hood
Have been so *very* good
And still kept that wolf from the door?
Father and mother she had none
So where in the world did the money come from?
I hate to doubt it
But something about it
Seems mighty funny to me...
They say she was a maiden most discreet
And there's no doubt about it, she must have been sweet
But you know, and I know, even sweet girls must eat.
How could Red Riding Hood..." (etc)

Was it Donovan who recorded "Little Tin Soldier" based on Hans Christian
Andersen's tragic little tale for morbid little children?  (And why anyone
ever though HCA was anything other than depressing I shall never know: one
of the most *downbeat* authors any child ever ploughed through, I'd've

Likewise, if you'd count poems written by the original author to accompany
short stories written for children, put to music fifty years later, *Puck
of Pook's Hill* and *Rewards and Fairies* have poems between each story,
and Peter Bellamy set most of them to music and put them on albums in the
1960s.  I don't think they were ever "popular songs" in the sense of having
been on Top of the Pops, as it were, but they were very good.

>From adult literature, you could add "Sirens of Titan" by Al Stewart, and
possibly also "Nostradamus".

If you allow "Calypso", how about The Incredible String Band's "The
Minotaur's Song"?

Pink Floyd's "Chapter 24" is simply the words of that bit of the I-Ching in
an early translation (via the German, I think).  I encountered the book
once and was very surprised!

Clive James' lyrics for Pete Atkin have more literary reference per metric
yard than is entirely reasonable...  The Shakespeare-in-general one in
particular, "You Can't Expect To Be Remembered", has quote and reference in
chunks, though more from the poems than the plays.  His songs tend not to
be about particular books, though.

Mercedes Lackey wrote a lot of songs to go with the Valdemar books, and
many of them are on albums called, um, "Heralds Harpers and Havoc" and
"Murder Mystery and Mayhem", performed by a variety of people.

Have you thought of asking the filk community about this project?  They
spot mainstream songs-about-books at eight hundred paces in a blizzard at
midnight, in my experience, and make joyful "Mick Jagger is a Filker!"

Speaking of whom, "Sympathy for the Devil" is based on *The Master and
Margarita* however you spell her I want to put in an h somewhere but I
can't work out where.

If Bonnie and Clyde were in a book before they were in the film, someone
did the song about that.  I have blanked on who did it, and have a nasty
feeling it may have been someone I probably ought to be ashamed of having
listened to.  Possibly Tom Jones.  Or Englebert Humperdinck.  Aargh.


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