Monday, April 22, 2013

Books Take Over the Airwaves

Poly Styrene, singer for the X-Ray Spex

As a LITS student employee, I consider myself a librarian-in-training and am always looking for new ways to celebrate my favorite place (the library!). A recent connection that I explored further was between books and music: specifically, songs about books, libraries, and literature.
Books and music seem like such a natural pair: musicians and authors often thrive together, as in cultural movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, Beat Generation, or New York punk scene. As shared mediums they seek to communicate relatable, universal themes and methods of expression:
  • searching for identity (Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye, Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, Sleater-Kinney’s “Modern Girl”) 
  • love lost (“I Don’t Want to Get Over You” by the Magnetic Fields, Jay and Daisy in The Great Gatsby) 
  • struggles against oppression (To Kill a Mockingbird, Things Fall Apart, “Oh Bondage Up Yours” by the X-Ray Spex)
  • lyrical storytelling (Pushkin’s Eugene Oneigin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, “Rocky Raccoon” by the Beatles, “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen) 
Therefore, it was only natural for me to combine the two in a special episode of my radio show in honor of National Library Week. My show Time Traveling Tunes is a music history show: this essentially means that I get to play whatever I want! I frequently play songs from as early as the 1920s up until this year’s releases. Each show is organized around a theme such as World War II, female vocalists, or British punk/new wave. Last week’s show featured songs about books, libraries, librarians, authors, words, and reading!


Yann Tiersen – Bookstore
-From the Amelie soundtrack

Little Green Cars – Harper Lee

Throw Me the Statue– Lolita

Exene Cervenka of X


The Shins – Pressed In A Book-Could there be better dissatisfied indie pop than Oh, Inverted World?

X – Adult Books
-X! Superawesome legendary punks from LA.

A Smile and a Ribbon – Book Cover
-This is where their band name comes from:

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Young Adult Friction
-Of course, this wouldn’t be describing our library!

Pylon – Dub
-This band is named after a William Faulkner novel.

Kings Of Convenience – Misread

The Weakerthans – Our Retired Explorer                                             
-Foucault and Derrida!                                                                                              .

Carl Dobkins & Jr. – My Heart Is An Open Book

Stars – My Favourite Book

The Organ-- Love Love Love
-Rightfully called the "lesbian Smiths"

Cats On Fire – Poor Students Dream of Marx
-A truly unfortunate band name.

Belle & Sebastian – Wrapped Up In Books
The Talking Heads! Notice the awesome 

Tina Weymouth on bass.

Echo & The Bunnymen – Read It In Books

Zee Avi – Just You And Me
-Who reads Kierkegaard in their spare time??

The Magnetic Fields – (Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy
-Catch the reference to Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie.

Simon & Garfunkel – Punky's Dilemma
-From Bookends.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Every Day I Write The Book

Library Voices – Bookish

Kimya Dawson – The Library (feat. Aesop Rock)
-Highly appropriate for this playlist

Modest Mouse – Bukowski
-I really love this first verse.

Mirah – Words Cannot Describe
-I got to see Mirah live in Northampton a few months ago and this was her encore song.
-neat video here:

Talking Heads – The Book I Read
-Talking Heads ‘77 is hands-down one of the greatest albums of all time

Born Ruffians – Kurt Vonnegut
-Vonnegut is the author of Slaughterhouse-5, Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, and many others-- one of my favorites.
-live version below:
Nikolai Gogol


Frank Sinatra – Too Marvelous For Words
-Classic love song!

Gogol Bordello – Immigrant Punk
-Named after the Russian author Nikolai Gogol

Joy Division – Dead Souls
-Possible reference to Gogol’s book Dead Souls

Sia – Academia
-Theme song for the profession? Great wordplay!

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
-Not a huge fan of the book but I have to say that the inimitable Kate B. is quite haunting

The Smiths – Cemetery Gates
-Keats and Yeats! (No, they don’t rhyme).
The Smittens – Gumdrops
-Possibly more cute than should be allowed.

Camera Obscura – Books Written for Girls
-Books written for girls... I’m thinking of everything by Beverly Cleary and the Nancy Drew series

Sleater-Kinney – Words And Guitar
-One of my favorite bands of all time from Olympia, WA.

The Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun
-My dad always laughs at the line, “Seems like she forgot about the library like she told her old man now”

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