Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Songs I Wish Were Books

I love reading other people’s Top Ten Tuesday posts, a bookish meme from The Broke and the Bookish, but I rarely manage to keep up with it myself.  However–this one was such a great topic I had to go for it: Ten songs I wish were books!

My longest playlist in my iTunes music library is called Story Songs, and I have a tendency to get irritated with songs if their narrative doesn’t make sense to me.  So…I have definite thoughts on this subject!

1) “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay – These are really arranged in no particular order–except this one, which is absolutely crying out to be a novel.  I mean, the opening lines are “I used to rule the world/Seas would rise when I gave the word/Now in the morning I sleep alone/Sweep the streets I used to own.”  How is this not a novel already?

2) “The Downeaster Alexa”  by Billy Joel – This one is mostly about the line “There ain’t no future for a man who works the sea/But there ain’t no islands left for islanders like me.”  And on that theme…

3) “Captain Jack” by Bill Joel – This could be part of the previous novel…  “Captain Jack will get you high tonight/Take you to his special island.”  Yeah, I know that’s probably metaphorical, but if it wasn’t?  Totally have a pirate story here.

4) “Fernando” by ABBA -Despite the female singer, this is definitely the story of two old soldiers remembering their war and their cause–even though they lost.  And there’s something about still taking pride in a lost cause that I especially like (Firefly, anyone?)  “Now we’re old and gray, Fernando/Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand/Can you hear the drums, Fernando?/Do you still recall the fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande/I could see it in your eyes how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.”

5) “The Highwayman” by Loreena McKennit – I assume this must be an old legend of some sort, because it’s virtually a novel already.  Well, a short story at least, about the Highwayman, Bess the landlord’s daughter, and the red-coated soldiers: “I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”  This story actually was written into one of the Jacky Faber novels, but to be honest, Jacky was kind of a distraction and it didn’t do the song justice.

6) “Highwayman” by Johnny Cash – Maybe connected to the previous one, maybe not…  This would have to be an epic, centuries-spanning story of reincarnation–“I fly a starship/across the universe divide/and when I reach the other side/I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can/or I may become a highwayman again./Or I may become a single drop of rain/but I will remain/and I’ll come back again, and again, and again…”

7) “These Dreams” by Heart – One of my all-time favorite song lines is “In a wood full of princes, freedom is a kiss.”  There’s a whole novel, right there.

8) “She Should’a Been Mine” by Barry Manilow – This one’s better if you read the CD liner.  It’s on a concept album about an apartment building, with each song a different apartment; this one is the elevator operator, who sees a resident come in with the wrong guy again and again…”I’m the one that she’s been looking for/I keep hoping for a sign/If it could’a been it would’a been/Still she should’a been mine.”

9) “When Did You Fall” by Chris Rice – There are loads of love songs that could be novels, but I picked this one because I especially like slow burn romances where love takes friends by surprise…”When did you fall in love with me/Because I swear I never knew it.”

10) “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel – This might not look like the seeds of a novel…but I realized recently, looking at songs for inspiration, that I’m basically writing this story.  I pulled out a dozen love songs with relevant pieces for inspiration for the last portion of my Phantom of the Opera retelling, and this one…pretty much the whole thing is spot on.  “If you said good-bye to me tonight/there would still be music left to write…”  …which tells you something about how the story ends! (But who writes a retelling/sequel to Phantom without giving it a happy ending?)

Do you have any favorite songs you’d love to see as a novel?  Can you think of any example where they actually turned a song into a novel?  I’d like to believe there’s hope I could someday read Viva La Vida… 🙂

7 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Songs I Wish Were Books

  1. “The Highwayman” was originally a poem by Alfred Noyes – I remember the poem being recited in one of the Anne books. I just looked the poem up on Wikipedia ( )- and it looks like there are two novels based on it, as well as a movie and several song adaptations besides McKennitt’s, though I’m quite fond of that one, too.

    Hmm… I’m quite fond of both Tam Lin the ballad as sung by Pentangle and the novel Tam Lin by Pamela Dean – but I bet Cruel Sister would make an interesting novel, too.

  2. I have to agree ‘Fernando’ by ABBA would make a wonderful novel – I have always listened to that song and wanted to know more. While ‘The Highwayman’ is a poem by Alfred Noyes which I love 🙂

  3. Dennis

    Practically anything by the Irish Rovers would make a great novel. Their songs are mostly comedic, but in the Irish tradition of grim humor, they’re using laughs to mask a sad reality. A favorite of mine is “Good-bye Mrs. Durkin,” in which the hero, who says he is “sick and tired of working,” plans to leave Ireland for California where he expects to “be digging lots of gold.” A laborer from an occupied and oppressed country, which has just suffered one of the worst famines in history, joins the California gold rush with the naive expectation he’ll get rich–now there’s a recipe for adventure if I ever heard one.

  4. dianem57

    Must agree with “These Dreams” and “Fernando.” Both seem to have the makings of a novel in them. Many of Barry Manilow’s songs could be novels – he sings so often of love lost that a story could be written from the lyrics. There WAS a story written from “Copacabana,” after all! 🙂

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