Top Ten Favourite Songs about Books and Reading

When Delia @ Postcards from Asia wrote a post on the kind of music she likes to listen to, I was inspired to write something about music. I am still not very comfortable straying from the topic of books here on Tabula Rasa, so for today’s Top Ten Tuesday freebie, I give you, my top ten favourite songs about books and reading:

1. You, by Steeleye Span – This English folk-rock band collaborated with Sir Terry Pratchett to produce an album based on his book, Wintersmith. Wintersmith is the third of the YA books of the Discworld series starring a young witch, Tiffany Aching. In this book, the wintersmith falls in love with Tiffany, and to be with her, winter turns itself into a human. You is about just that sort of obsessive love.

Favourite lines: “A statue of your likeness, floats through my dream, carved in ice and glacial blue. You’re in my heart forever, or so it seems, now everything I dream turns into you.”

2. Moon Over Bourbon Street, by Sting – This song was inspired from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and it certainly brings out the mood of the novel. It was the duality of Louis’s character, so says the singer in an interview, that interested him; the idea that there is this wretched soul that must do evil yet wants to stop. A song about wanting to belong, I want to reread the book every time I listen to Moon Over Bourbon Street. 

Favourite lines: “The brim of my hat hides the eye of a beast, I’ve the face of a sinner but the hands of a priest. Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my feet, while there’s a moon over Bourbon Street.”

3. Jacob Marley’s Chain, by Aimee Mann – Aimee Mann is one of my favourite singers all thanks to Buffy, so my favourite song by her remains Pavlov’s Bell. But her simple lyric never fails to charm. This song is based on a character out of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Watch the video for to find out what inspired her and listen to the song.
Favourite Lines: “But it’s not like life is such a vale of tears. It’s just full of thoughts that act as souvenirs, for those tiny blunders made in yesteryears, that comprise Jacob Marley’s chain.”

4. Never Let Me Go, by Judy Bridgewater (Jane Monheit) – This is the fictional song that gives its title to the poignant novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. One of the key scenes in the story is about the heroine Kathy secrets dancing to the song, as a young girl, wishing she had a baby, or someone to call her own. The fictional song was realized beautifully for the film adaptation of the book. I’ll admit, I like the scene more than the song.

5. Rocket Man, by Elton John – The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, a collection of science fiction short stories, includes a small piece called The Rocket Man, which is about a man leaving his wife and son to go off in his rocket for three months only to return to his family for three days every time, leading a half-life, belonging neither here nor there. I had listened to the song before, but the story really left an impression on me, and I have loved the song since.

Favourite lines: “And I think it’s gonna be a long long time till touch down brings me round again to find, that I’m not the man they think I am at home.”

6. Paperback Writer, by The Beatles – Surely you expected to find this on a list of songs about books. It is so catchy!

7. Rebecca, by Meg & Dia – I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I found this song very recently and liked that it retold the initial scenes, of the narrator falling in love with Max de Winter and was not some ode to Rebecca instead. It is a very soft song, easy to go unnoticed, but I like the piano. And I love that she calls him Mr. Summer.

Favourite Lines: “Rushed down the stairs to that man, Mr. Summer. He nodded his head, with laughter in his eyes, a smirk followed close behind.”

8. Du Riechst So Gut, by Rammstein – Based on lead singer Till Lindemann’s favourite book, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, this is one of my favourite songs by the band. It describes a predator following the scent of its prey. The book is known for having inspired Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice, but I’ll always associate it with this. I both read the book and became crazy about Rammstein during my German-learning years. Another Rammstein literature-related favourite (they do this a lot) is the ballad-like Rosenrot, which is a play on Goethe’s Heidenröslein.

Favourite Lines: “Der Wahnsinn. Ist nur eine schmale Brücke, die Ufer sind Vernunft und Trieb.” “Madness. It’s just a narrow bridge, (between) the banks of reason and desire.”

9. Cassandra, by Abba – Fine, so this is not exactly book-based, but I did recently read The Iliad, does that count? I have always loved the tragedy of Cassandra, the prophetess no one believed, and I have always liked this song.

Favourite Lines: “But on the darkest of nights, nobody knew how to fight. And we were caught in our sleep. Sorry, Cassandra, I didn’t believe, you really had the power.”

10.  I’m Reading A Book, by Julian Smith – I discovered this song right when I started the blog, around the time it came out, and I have listened to it to the point of “stop-driving-me-crazy”-irritation and back since. It was a book blogger-favourite for the longest while, cropping up just about everywhere. This list would be incomplete without it.

Favourite Lines: “Why are all these people always interrupting me, what I gotta do to make them see? Don’t you ever interrupt me while I’m reading a book…”

Do you like any songs about books and reading? Do share in the comments!

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Favourite Songs about Books and Reading”

  1. This was a great idea! I can't think of any off the top of my head, but now I'll be on the look out. I know that there's a Kanye song where he mentions meeting his baby's mama at Borders, but, yeah…


  2. Oh wow, what a unique idea for a list! 🙂 I've never really thought about songs that mention books/reading before! My TTT


  3. That's a great list, Priya. I only know Cassandra. The last song is hilarious.
    Have you listened to "The Kill" by "30 Seconds to Mars"? It's based on Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining. I don't know how I forgot to include this band in my favorites. Oh well…


  4. Not sure if this qualifies, but this is a song parody which has everything to do with books. 🙂

    It's called B*tches in Bookshops (a Jay Z-Kanye West parody)


  5. Original topic for sure!! Good post.

    Here's the link to my Top Ten Tuesday post for this week:


  6. I am shocked. You have managed to dig up an ABBA song that neither I or my husband has ever heard, and we lived through that whole era (I was eight and he twelve when they won in Brighton) – we are Swedes, even! :-O

    When it comes to songs about books I love this one:
    Ok, so it´s not technically about a book, but certainly about the process of trying to make one. Perhaps you can relate…;-)


  7. Sanveer, Sabeeha, Viktoria – Thanks for the links!

    Delia, you know, I don't remember much of the adaptation, I've only seen it a couple of times, but it does look familiar.


  8. I haven't seen the movie but I liked the song and when I watched the video I thought this must be about The Shining. And it was. 🙂


  9. Good post! So many links! Aimee Mann also did the soundtrack for the film Magnolia, which I don't think was based on a book, but looks so much as if it could have been.
    I have just finished reading The Amber Fury, which puts across the helplessness and terrible fate of Cassandra so eloquently.
    And I loved Never Let Me Go so much, it was such a haunting book, that I would be terrified of hearing the song, thinking it would never match up!


  10. Denise, thanks for the comment. I looked up The Amber Fury. I had never heard of it. But it sounds so interesting! I'm buying it. 🙂
    The Never Let Me Go song was not what I expected it to be. It doesn't follow the lyrics word for word, either. But if you watch it within the movie adaptation, then it will be just as haunting..


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