Thank god it's friday, eh? After spending the day on more serious things, I get to bring you a top five list in no particular order of no great importance. Today's topic? Songs that mention writers.
The rules are simple. The song must reference the author by name, it cannot allude to the author, or simply reference one of the authors' works (which unfortunately rules out a whole bunch of Led Zeppelin, Rush, and other prog-rock).
I tried to represent a number of different styles (this list could too easily have been all-folk).
Weigh in in the comments, of course.
Patti Smith - "Land"
I don't even pretend to know what this song is about, I just know it's great. It references Arthur Rimbaud, the great literary love of Smith's life:
"And I fill my nose with snow and go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud."
If you haven't read Just Kids yet, you really need to get on that. It's probably my favorite book of the past 2 years (and is now being made into an inevitably horrid feature film).
Here's a great live performance of the song:
Manic Street Preachers - "Faster"
This is just a fucking great song. It's an anthem for the nihilist, which I certainly loved in my youth (though I doubt I'd like it so much if I came across it today). I cannot possibly do it justice in words, so I'll quote you their own:
"I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter".
Elsie Carlisle - "Pu-leeze Mr. Hemingway!"
The reference is right there in the title, but there are some very cheeky references within the song (this song was frequently banned in the 1930's):
"I love a brave man
With big he-man stuff,
But not a caveman,
So remember not to play too rough!"
Simon and Garfunkel - "A Simple Desultory Philippic"
I think every other Simon and Garfunkel song ever written has literary references, but I narrowed it down to "The Dangling Conversation" and "A Simple Desultory Philippic." For humor's sake, the latter won. Written to be a spoof of Bob Dylan, this song is pretty much the masterpiece of random author mentions, such as:
"I've been Ayn Randed, nearly branded Communist, 'cause I'm left-handed."
And my personal favorite lyric (actually this is one of my favorite lines from any song ever):
"He's so unhip, that when you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas, whoever he was. The man ain't got no culture, but it's alright, ma, everybody must get stoned."
I couldn't find a live performance, sadly, but you can at least listen to the song here:
Tori Amos - "Tear In Your Hand" and her many Neil Gaiman mentions
Tori Amos' long friendship with Neil Gaiman has been noted in detail elsewhere, but for now I'm just gonna note the songs that mention him.
From "Horses," off Boys for Pele
"Will you find me if Neil made me a tree"
From "Space Dog," off Under the Pink
"Seems I keep getting the story twisted, so where's Neil when you need him?"
From "Carbon," off Scarlet's Walk
"Get me Neil on the line. No, I can't hold. Have him read 'Snow Glass Apples,' where nothing is what it seems."
There are a number of other references to Gaiman's work, but there's only one specific reference to him left, my favorite, the first, made before they even knew each other:
"If you need me, me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the Dream King. Neil says hi, by the way."
That's "Tear In Your Hand," off of Little Earthquakes.
Here's one of my favorite live performances of the song (at Glastonbury 1999, if I'm not mistaken?) (stay tuned for a super-hot guy singing along in the crowd):
Runners up include: "Hey, Jack Kerouac" by 10,000 Maniacs, and "Rave On, John Donne," by Van Morrison.