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Songs Inspired By Literature

The Y! Music Playlist Blog

A love of books and literature is probably one of the single most important things we can pass on to our children to help ensure their success in life. 70% of people in the shallow end of the literacy pool do not have a job or work only part time.

Having such a devastating economic strike against you is bad enough, but even worse in my mind, is not having the joy that comes from being able to learn and experience through the written word.

The statistics tell the story well:

50% of the unemployed are illiterate
13% of all 17 year olds are illiterate
44% of minority youth are illiterate

Children who do not read by the 3rd grade are more likely to:
-Drop out of school
-Take drugs
-Go to prison
-The top 2% of student read 65 minutes a day
-The top 10% read 20 minutes a day
-The bottom 10% read 1/10th of a minute per day

Music can be a powerful tool to get children excited about reading. I know for example, that during my high school, heavy metal phase, I was inspired to read "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge because of the Iron Maiden song of the same name.

If your child is more into music than reading you have a great opportunity. Giving your young Metallica fan some H.P. Lovcraft can really light a spark. If it's mid July and your 10th grader still hasn't picked up their required summer reading of George Orwell's "Animal Farm", buy him/her a copy of Pink Floyd's "Animals". You can see where I am going here. Songs inspired by literature come from all music genres, so you can find a book to fit your child's musical tastes relatively easily.

Thankfully, an organization called Artists for Literacy ( is helping teachers and parents use music to spark the passion for reading in children. They have released compilation CDs of songs inspired by literature as well as DVDs of music videos and musicians speaking about how books play a part in their lives and work.

This playlist contains songs from many different genres that were inspired by literature. Check out the "Artists for Literacy" pages to lookup the books that have inspired the songs in this playlist. This is by no means a complete list, so please add your favorites to the comments.

Songs Inspired By Literature Playlist

1. All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan

2. The Ghost Of Tom Joad - Bruce Springsteen

3. Romeo & Juliet - Dire Straits

4. The Trooper - Iron Maiden 

5. The Stand - The Alarm

6. Blake's Jerusalem - Billy Bragg

7. Sailing To Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler

8. Message Of Love - The Pretenders

9. Charlotte Sometimes (LP Version) - The Cure 

10. The Barricades Of Heaven - Jackson Browne

11. Virginia Woolf - Indigo Girls

12. Synchronicity I - The Police 

13. Hobbit On The Rocks - Toad The Wet Sprocket

14. Tales Of Brave Ulysses - Cream 

15. Sympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones

16. 1984 - David Bowie 

17. Teacher - Jethro Tull

18. Rain King - Counting Crows

19. Guinnevere - Crosby, Stills & Nash

20. Tom Sawyer - Rush 

21. The End - The Doors

22. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John

23. Scentless Apprentice - Nirvana

24. Shadrach - Beastie Boys 

25. The Raven - Lou Reed

26. Tolstoy -  Bob Hillman

27. Locked Out - Crowded House

28. Triad - Jefferson Airplane 

29. Let The River Run - Carly Simon

30. Clocks - Coldplay

31. My Antonia - Emmylou Harris 

32. Afternoons & Coffeespoons - Crash Test Dummies 

Plus many more!
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