I’m in a Polyamorous Relationship with Music and Books
As are many of the artists I listen to
This is probably (up to this point) going to be my favorite post ever on here. As an avid reader, one of the first things that particularly interested me when discovering music as a teenager was the lyrical content. It was very much like poetry to me and I found myself often dissecting it and trying to determine what kind of meaning it may had.
What became even cooler was when I learned that artists would sometimes draw from literary allusions or have songs completely dedicated to the novels that they loved. This was a great concept to marry, in my opinion, because it really brought a whole other aspect of intellectualism to the music I was listening to. I will be diving into this concept this week and I’m happy to have you along for the ride.
SYMPHONY X (UNITED STATES) – THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY, FROM THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY (1997)
Pulling from concepts within the bible as well as John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Russell Allen and the boys explore the war between God and Satan and take a closer look at what it may be like to lose that positon in Heaven that Satan once had. It’s an epic journey and one of my favorite Symphony X songs.
MC LARS AND MAC LETHAL (UNITED STATES) – THE GIVING TREE, FROM LARS ATTACKS! (2011)
MC Lars is known for his nerdy content. Touring with Mega Ran and MC Chris, he made a name for himself by singing about the metric system, Captain Ahab, and many other subjects popular within nerd culture. In this song, he takes a rather heartbreaking look at The Giving Tree and Mac Lethal comes in to help.
ORPHANAGE (NETHERLANDS) – ENDER’S GAME, FROM DRIVEN (2004)
In earlier albums, Orphanage was never afraid to take on the works of HP Lovecraft, but in their final album in 2004 (in their final song), they take a look at Ender Wiggin and the trip up to Battle School in the eponymous Ender’s Game. It takes a more detailed perspective into the harsh conditions of the Battle School regimen and also how important winning is in this story.
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE (UNITED STATES) – WHITE RABBIT, FROM SURREALISTIC PILLOW (1967)
Obviously this song is about Alice in Wonderland and features a highly psychedelic ride, hoping to recapture what Lewis Carroll did so long ago. I’m not saying you should be high when you listen to this, but I’m sure it fucking helps.
RUSH (CANADA) – 2112, FROM 2112 (1976)
In particular, this song stands out to me because it is heavily based on the story Anthem, by Ayn Rand, who was known for her objectivist philosophies. Even in 1976, Canada was still very much seen as a Socialist country, valuing the needs of the collective over the needs of the individual. Of course, this led to people calling them right-wing extremists, but this was THE album to catapult them into stardom and I think the song is genius.
BLIND GUARDIAN (GERMANY) – AND THEN THERE WAS SILENCE, FROM A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (2002)
Taken from a 1932 film originally, A Night at the Opera was used by Blind Guardian as an homage to an old Queen album by the same name in 1975. I’m going to expand on how nuts Hansi Kursch is when it comes to books when I address Demons & Wizards so get ready for that later on. And Then There Was Silence is based on the Iliad, written by Homer back in 55 million BC (okay, maybe it was somewhere closer to 760 BC). This song is truly epic and when they were here in 2010, we convinced them to play that song instead of Majesty, it was pretty awesome. In fact, here’s a video of that very event occurring. About three minutes in after the conclusion of The Bard’s Song.
IRON MAIDEN (ENGLAND) – SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON, FROM SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON (1988)
Bruce Dickinson had been the voice of Iron Maiden for a long time but he was starting to become disenchanted with song writing and the band had actively declined most of his ideas for songs but wanted to keep him around as the vocalist for the band. When it came time to record, one of the members approached Dickinson and showed him Seventh Son, by Orson Scott Card, the first in a (now) six book series about a boy named Alvin Maker. This album was commercially very successful for them (and it’s a bitchin’ series to get into).
MASTODON (UNITED STATES) – SEABEAST, FROM LEVIATHAN (2004)
This entire album is about Moby Dick, but this song in particular talks about the whale. And it’s awesome.
DEMONS & WIZARDS (GERMNAY/UNITED STATES) – CRIMSON KING, FROM TOUCHED BY THE CRIMSON KING (2005)
So, remember when I was going to blow your mind about Demons & Wizards? Okay, first…let me tell you about the band. It’s two guys, Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch. Jon has been the guitarist for Iced Earth since 1990-forever-ago and Hansi is the singer of Blind Guardian. Conceptually, the band takes the dark and ominous sound of Iced Earth (Demons) and blends it with the magical sound of Blind Guardian (Wizards). The name comes from a 1972 Uriah Heap album that shares the same name. Uriah Heap is taken from Charles Dickens literature and Charles Dickens wrote a book called Black House. Black House serves as a large influence in Stephen King’s Bleak House, which is a sequel to Talisman. Those two books are also integral to The Dark Tower series who Stephen King also writes. Demons & Wizards features a ton of songs about The Dark Tower. Mind=blown. Anyhoo, here’s a song about the Crimson King, the primary antagonist from The Dark Tower series.
DEMONS & WIZARDS – DORIAN
And from the very album, a song about Dorian Grey.
2015 is almost over! More content coming soon!