The home stretch! We’ve almost completed the A to Z of music based on literary works. This last batch has some nice twists and turns.
“Stormbringer,” Deep Purple: I mentioned Michael Moorcock when introducing Queen’s “Ogre Battle.” Here we have an explicit reference to Moorcock’s Elric books.
“Tea In the Sahara,” The Police: I had to get one Police song in here. You know the big literary references, so here’s one that is a bit more subtle — Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky.
“Tales Of Brave Ulysses,” Cream: I can’t let a Library Rock playlist go by without a reference to Ulysses, the original action hero. Stay away from the brown acid and get your wah wah Odyssey on. (Honorable “U” mention: Warrant, for name checking Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”)
“Venus In Furs,” Dave Navarro: This is actually a Velvet Underground song based on the Leopold Von Sacher- Masoch novel, but I really like this version. While I have your attention, here’s a shameless plug for The Confessions of Wanda Van Sacher-Masoch. How often do you get to read the memoir of someone who was there when the word “masochism” was coined?
“War of the Worlds,” Jeff Wayne: This is the most insane, pretentious, brilliant over the top prog album of all time.
“Welcome to the Pleasuredome,” Frankie Goes To Hollywood: You think I’m giving you another “W,” don’t you? Wrong! This is an “X,” as in “Xanadu,” where Coleridge’s Kubla Khan a pleasuredome erected. Sure, I could have gone with Rush’s “Xanadu,” or the Olivia Newton-John/ELO travesty of the same name. But how often in 2011 do you get a chance to trot out Holly Johnson with exception to ”Relax”? From the most brilliantly subversive top 40 album of the mid-Eighties.
“You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy,” Spent Poets: This is another stretch. Michael Malloy was a real person who survived five attempts on his life in insurance fraud scams; however, a pulp novel by Timothy Trent entitled All Dames Are Dynamite was published so technically I’m still on topic. Primus included a bit of this piece on their album Frizzle Fry.
Zappa, Frank, “Uncle Remus:” Really? You didn’t expect me to figure out how to work Zappa into the “Z” spot? And I thought we were friends. Uncle Frank name checks the fictitious narrator of the Brer Rabbit tales in this cut from Apostrophe.
There it is, an A-Z of library rock. I think I’m going to go read a book now.
Related “Why It Matters” pieces: