Literature is art; music is art. It only makes sense that one would inspire the other. Bands such as Led Zeppelin are well known for their use of literary references (Tolkien, especially), but many other songwriters and musicians have found inspiration in literature. Some are fun, novelty songs, others tug at the heartstrings as only a brilliant work of art can do. Here are five songs you may not be as familiar with that have a basis in the literary world:
1. Little Red Riding Hood – Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs
If you listened to this song as a kid, it’s a fun ditty about the fairy tale we all know. Listen to it as an adult, and it’s creepy AF. It’s basically about a carnivorous stalker howling at a girl in the woods, begging for her to let him walk her home to keep her safe. Nice try, wolfie. Somehow, the song is still catchy and you’ll probably find yourself tapping your toe along to it.
YouTube Channel: alu309
2. The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins – Leonard Nimoy
Everything about this song is fun – the video, the song itself, the retelling of The Hobbit within the song and the fact it’s sung by geek icon Leonard Nimoy. The song is just bouncy and it has great descriptions that speak to lazy introverts’ souls. For example, “They just like to eat and be left alone.” It’s a distinct departure from many of the songs that pull from Tolkien’s works, as it is strictly good old fun, novelty pop – not hard rock, serious, or brooding. Do yourself a favor and watch the video to immerse yourself in a wacky Tolkien-inspired 60’s wonderland.
YouTube Channel: DeadHippieMan
3. (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet – The Reflections
Shakespeare’s tragedy of two teenagers in love (or, who think they’re in love, don’t get me started on that), has inspired multiple musical works. The Dire Straits and Taylor Swift are among the musicians who have worked the story into a song. This song, though, is classic 60’s pop, and is so dang cheery and catchy. While it doesn’t tell the story of Romeo and Juliet, nor is the song itself a tragic love ballad, it references the centuries-old legacy of Romeo and Juliet as a couple.
YouTube Channel: oldiesbutgoodies4you
4. House at Pooh Corner – Kenny Loggins
Winnie the Pooh and his pals continue to delight children and adults nearly 100 years after AA Milne first published the stories. This cheerful, but poignant, song is a reminder of the joys of youth and the simple pleasures nature and friends can provide. If you’re having a particularly hard day of adulting, the song might make you cry nostalgically, but if you’re outdoors, feeling free as a bird, it’s a fun singalong. The song’s peaceful melody and simple lyrics do a beautiful job capturing the joy of Milne’s stories.
YouTube Channel: Rico James
5. Richard Cory – Simon & Garfunkel
Based on Edwin Arlington Robinson’s super depressing poem of the same name, this haunting song tells basically the same story as the poem, but with a modern spin and Simon’s lyrics instead of the poet’s words. It’s a social commentary and a sad story, though worth a listen. It won’t get stuck in your head, though it will likely make you think, and inspire you to re-read Arlington’s poem.
YouTube Channel: hawkmoon03111951
Which literary tune can you not get enough of?
Featured image via Vintage Music Business