Monday 2 December 2013

AAA Songs/Albums Based on Books and Poems (Top ten News, Views and Music 221)

This week's top ten is quite 'novel' because this week we're 'wrapped up in books' - or literature to be precise as a few poems have sneaked into our list. Every so often an AAA member will take on a literary theme, taking inspiration from a work of literature. Sometimes it's a whole album, sometimes it's just a song. Sometimes it's a novel that's causing a huge fuss at the time an album is released - sometimes it's an album released hundreds of years before the group was born. Sometimes two AAA bands take inspiration from the same work of art. Anyway, we think we've caught them all but as ever let us know if there's any AAA examples we've missed! Happy, err, reading! The ten listings are given here in the order the books were written. By the way, David Crosby still hasn't revealed which book gave him the inspiration to write 'Page 43'...

1) Unknown "The I Ching" (3-2 BC)

The I Ching, a fortune telling device, is one of the earliest texts in human history. Possibly created by Chinese Emperor Fu Xi, but probably not, the origins of the hexagrams offering words of wisdom designed to fit the caster's situation are shrouded in mystery. Hmm, mystery and seeing into the future - no wonder Syd Barrat chose this as the inspiration for one of his songs as it's his interests all over! Syd wrote the Pink Floyd song 'Chapter 24' (from the first Pink Floyd album 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn') after casting this hexagram for himself. Called 'The Returning', the lyrics to the song are taken almost verbatim and are used in the song to express hope after troubled times now that the summer of love is here. The beginning of the text actually runs 'Change, return success, going out and coming in without error, friends come without blame...' Of course, as we now sadly know, the year after the summer of love was a turbulent year, full of Vietnam, riots and the assassination of Martin Luther King and Syd has only about six months himself before sliding into a decline he never escaped right up until his death in 2006. The line about 'friends coming without blame' is especially wrong, given that the rest of Pink Floyd gradually ease David Gilmour into the band as his replacement. Then again the end of the hexagram reads 'Danger - no blame' which is about as close to Syd's sorry destiny as you can get. Perhaps chapter 23 'Splitting Apart' would have been more apt - but then that chapter wouldn't have inspired such a wonderfully warm hopeful glow of psychedelia. By the way the name of that first Pink Floyd album ('Piper') was taken by Syd from another of his favourite books, Kenneth Grahame's 'Wind In The Willows', where it is the title of chapter seven.

2 Various "The Bible" (2BC-1500 AD)

Where to start? So many bands have been inspired by The Bible - or at least the short extracts doled out to them during Sunday school/assemblies/RE lessons. Chief amongst these, amazingly, seem to be those hippie outlaws The Grateful Dead, who quote from the bible in Bob Weir's solo song 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' ('Ace' 1974) and re-tell the whole of the passage about 'Samson and Delilah' on their 'Terrapin Station' album (1977) (huh, to think they had the audacity to say longhair in the 1960s was a sign of the devil when this passage is all about overthrowing evil tyrants by gaining strength from your hair!) Another taker is Paul Simon, whose film/soundtrack album 'One Trick Pony' about a fading one-hit wonder futilely trying to carry on as a musician when no one wants to know is deliberately named 'Jonah' after the biblical sailor swallowed by a whale. The parallels between the two are huge - both are hapless figures who can't see the bigger picture and hang on to what they think they should be doing long past the point when their respective industries have spit them out (quite literally in the bible's case); as Paul puts it 'They say Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but I know there's no truth to that tale, I know Jonah was swallowed by a song'.

3) Lewis Carroll "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" (1865 AD)

As Grace Slick once put it, the drug taking of the 1960s were inevitable after some of the Victorian novels children were given to read. Her most famous song for the Jefferson Airplane, 'White Rabbit', takes directly from this novel (and even more from the sequel 'Alice Through The Looking Glass') mentioning 'hookah smoking caterpillars', pills that change your sense of perception (making Alice 'big' or 'small') and copious references to 'mushrooms'. Why if 'Alice' had come out in 1967, like the song, it would surely have been banned - because everything in the lyrics took place in the book the censors couldn't very well censor Grace's song and so 'White Rabbit' became an anthem for the underground drug culture of the summer of love. John Lennon, meanwhile, was inspired more by the wordplay ('Alice' was one of his favourite books, inspiring 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' among others). However inspiration isn't enough for this top ten so we've plumped for The Beatles' 'I Am The Walrus', which makes references to the chapter 'The Walrus and the Carpenter'. Lennon only half-remembered the work when he sat down to wrote his song (which, contrary to popular opinion, is not gobbledegook but his rage at his teachers for telling him his writing was 'nonsense' and then having the gall to set his book 'In His Own Write' as a set text at Quarry Bank School) and later admitted that he got the song wrong, casting himself as the 'baddy' (both the walrus and the carpenter are trying to murder innocent clams by pretending to be nice and take them home with them). Goo goo ga joob indeed.

4) Rudyard Kipling "Gunga Din" (1892)

Gene Parsons' wonderful song for The Byrds 'Gunga Din' ('The Ballad Of Easy Rider' 1969) updates Kipling's Victorian parable about a soldier who bullies a native boy who then sacrifices his life for the soldier for the present day, with the band 'hippie sacrifices' that are suddenly being celebrated as Vietnam changes the ideals of so many of the 'parent' generation that peace might not be such a bad thing after all. Parsons writes the song as a letter home, 'aboard a DC8' jet taking him to America, 'chasing the sun back to L.A.' and wondering what he can wear instead of a leather jacket because 'I know that it's a sin'. Of course there's always the answer to that perennial question 'do you like Kipling?' The correct answer is 'I don't know - I've never kippled'.

5) Edwin Arlington Robinson "Richard Cory" (1897)

As we covered just a few issues ago, Paul Simon drew greatly on Robinson's Victorian poem for the Simon and Garfunkel classic 'Richard Cory' ('Sounds Of Silence' 1966). However the original 'Richard Cory' is a bit of a mouthful ('Whenever Richard went to town...he was a gentleman from sole to crown') and Simon changes all of the lyrics, whilst keeping the same theme of 'distance' between the disenfranchised workers in the factory sweating buckets for no money and the pressures of manager Cory's life that lead him to commit suicide in the last verse. Simon adds the twist ending, though, where even death seems like a better option for the overworked workers, however, who envy him even that.

6) H G Wells "War Of The Worlds" (1898)

When Justin Hayward was roped into doing Jeff Wayne's full double disc concept album based on the HG Wells album his first thought was 'I'll never hear about this again'. Indeed, the album sessions for the album took so long that it was about two years after recording his vocal that Justin suddenly found himself on Top Of The Pops at number one, singing 'Forever Autumn'. Now, there's not a single line in Wells' influential science-fiction novel about martian aliens felled by human viruses that mentions 'Forever Autumn' and just a sole line about the narrator's wife Carrie, which shows you how many changes Wayne made to the work. Still, the beginning middle and end of the book are there, even if some of the characters are changed. Ooooo-lah!

7) James Joyce "Ulysses" (1918-20)

We're back to Grace Slick again, who got so tired of reading reviews of the Jefferson Airplane's work that called them 'uneducated' that she set out to prove them wrong on the band's third LP 'After Bathing At Baxters'. Having read and enjoyed 'Ulysses', a work so difficult she knew most of her critics wouldn't have read it (note - it's probably Joyce's weakest work but his short stories are well worth reading), Grace then condensed arguably the longest single story from Western Europe into a four minute song, calling it 'ReJoyce'. The song really does do a good job at condensing the day-in-the-life of Leopold Bloom and the parallels of his life in Ireland with the Greek King Ulysses (better known by the name Odysseus, a key player in the Trojan War). Grace even gets the stream-of-consciousness feel of the work down pat ('Saxon's sick on the holy dregs' 'Molly's gone to blazes').

8) George Orwell "Animal Farm" (1945)

There are two main AAA players to have been influenced by Orwell's seminal work, a fairytale parable that's all too clearly based on contemporary cold war events and Stalin's manipulation of communism (which was actually a pretty good idea under Lenin and Trotsky until Uncle Joe got his hands on it...all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others...') The first is The Kinks, with the song 'Animal Farm' ending up on their seminal 1968 album 'The Village Green Preservation Society'. A song about escape in the country, this song doesn't have all that much to do with the novel but is clearly in Ray's mind as he comes in with those grumpy opening words 'The world is big and wild and half insane...' The other AAA album is Pink Floyd's 'Animals', which extends Orwell's metaphor by dividing the world up into 'dogs' (outsiders usually on the run from the law for speaking out), 'pigs' (the ones in charge with their snouts in the trough) and the sheep (everyone else content to live as slaves under the rules of pigs). The parallels between the two works aren't actually as close as some fans make out (there aren't any sheep in Orwell's work - instead that role is taken up by the hard-working horses who give their life to their masters and whose bodies are then sold for glue; two of the three main songs on the album began life as different songs entirely before Roger Waters had the idea of how to link the songs together). Still, you can hear Orwell's influence in almost everything Waters ever wrote - his socialist upbringing meant that Orwell's liberal leanings made him a hero in his household; no doubt his own conscientious objector father, who died at Anzio in 1943 after being forced to fight against his will, would have identified with 'Animal Farm' only too well.

9) Dylan Thomas "Under Milk Wood" (1954)

Ray Davies must have been quite a bookworm in 1968, because here's another song from the same period (which ended up as a B-side to Klassik Kinks single 'Days'). Dylan Thomas' epic work,. which tells the story of a simple mining village in Wales, tries to give equal space to all the characters. Ray, though, is more interested in 'Pollyanna Garter'. Intrigued by how much this slightly wayward youth from the 1950s seems to point the way forward to the 1960s, Ray updates the story to let her 'try and make the swinging city swing' and turns her story into yet another tale of the innocent maiden from the country hoodwinked by the pretty city lights and disreputable characters (this is Ray's favourite theme between 1966 and 1968). Polly ends up back home in the arms of her mother, promising never to stray again - but her eyes have been opened to the world now...

10) Alan Sillitoe "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner" (1959)

Sillitoe's short story is a prototype for 'Billy Elliott' where a poor working class kid from Nottingham escapes his poverty and his street's predilection for petty crime by running long distances - as much to 'run away' from his problems as anything else. Despite being a fairly later-period Belle and Sebastian song (B-side to their 2001 single 'Jonathan David'), I'm convinced this song dates from Stuart Murdoch's days confined to bed with chronic fatigue syndrome, wishing he could run at all, never mind run away from his problems. The narrator barely mentions running: instead he's more concerned in letting his kind run away with him, 'spending the day in stories and dreaming of the time we are on stage'. Note too that despite the song's title the lyrics refer to himself as a 'middle distance runner' who knows he won't be able to get away with doing this forever.
Well, if you're in love with reading too then you've to the right place - there'll be more eyesight-reducing AAA articles and news, views and music next week!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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