While reading The Illustrated Man this past weekend, and reconnecting with my inner teenage bookworm, I started thinking about musical versions of short stories and novels. That's because one of the stories in the collection, "The Rocket Man," was turned into a bittersweet tune by a group called Pearls Before Swine back when I was in high school--one of those songs you hear once on the radio and it stays with you forever. Which also got me to thinking about how that just doesn't happen these days, and I wonder--is that because there aren't songs like that anymore (possible), or because there are no radio stations like WBCN anymore (very possible) or just because I don't listen to radio at all anymore (ding ding ding ding ding)? How do people get turned on to new music these days?
MYSPACE: That would be me.
FACEBOOK: No, that would be me.
THE INTERNET: Sorry, kids--without me, you're nothing.
So in the spirit of using the internet as a radio station, here are four songs based on three novels and a story. (I thought about including "White Rabbit," but that's one of those songs which, once you hear it, you can't really listen to anything else but that, over and over again, in order to recapture that initial musical high. Which kinda makes it the perfect song about drugs, doesn't it?)
First, we have that Pearls Before Swine version of that Ray Bradbury story. Then we have the Velvet Underground version of the novel on which the recently-closed Broadway show was based (for which Nina Arianda won the Tony, and rightly so). We have the first Kate Bush song I ever heard. (Probably the first one you ever heard too, if you're of a certain age.) And, as evidence of either the breadth of my musical taste or its decadence, a Jim Thompson novel as sung by (I kid you not) MC 900 Foot Jesus.