There are countless songs inspired by great works of literature. Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ (Animal Farm), and Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (Frankenstein) for starters, while The Smiths’ ‘Cemetery Gates’ name checks a whole anthology of poets. But does it work the other way? In other words, how many books are inspired by great lyrics?
This isn’t a test. I don’t have the answer. I just ask because I’m curious. And because so much of what I write is dependent on music – for when I’m thinking, for when I’m tired of thinking, to define and describe characters, to naming them (Buttercup Jones in Buttercup Mash is stolen from the Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’).
And because I’m starting to wonder if pillaging the back catalogues of Morrissey, Floyd, Carter and the rest of the ‘poets’ who got me through the teen years (I didn’t do English A level, for many tedious reasons, partly to do with precociousness, partly to do with an evil beardy teacher, so only discovered Keats last month) might prove fertile ground.
I long to write the girl with ‘cheekbones like geometry’ (thank you, Lloyd Cole), The Stone Roses’ ‘Sally Cinnamon’, Billy Bragg’s ‘Cindy of 1,000 Lives’, or maybe just ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’. Don’t you? Don’t you wonder what happens to them after the three perfect pop minutes are up and all you can hear is static…?