Hooks and Books 19

hooks and books
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels1

(Note: This is a new edition of “Hooks and Books”,  a series that once appeared on a now-defunct website.)  

In this series, we explore the inspiration behind specific songs. To wit, we examine the connection between certain songs and literature. Without any further adieu, here is the latest group of hooks and books: 

“Charlie Chan”

This one is by the nihilistic avant garde band known as The Residents.  It was inspired by the fictional Honolulu detective who stars in a series of mystery novels written by Earl Derr Biggers.  The track was included on the instrumental album titled The Ughs! released in 2009.  

“The Count of Monte Cristo”

This one is by the UK band Noisettes.  It was written by bassist/vocalist Shingai Shoniwa, guitarist Dan Smith and former member Jamie Morrison.  The song was inspired by the 1844 book of the same name by Alexandre Dumas.  It appears on their debut disc What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf? which dropped in 2007. 

“Killing An Arab”

This track was recorded by the English rock band The Cure.  Frontman Robert Smith said he wrote this song “was a short poetic attempt at condensing my impression of the key moments in L’Étranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus.”  It was their first single, but didn’t appear on an LP until 1980 when it was included on Boys Don’t Cry.


Former Beatle John Lennon wrote this now classic cut.  He said that the song was inspired by a 1963 instructional poem titled “Cloud Piece.”  The poem was actually included in artist’s Yoko Ono’s 1964 book Grapefruit.  The song was first featured on Lennon’s 1971 platter of the same name.      

”Night Mail”

This tune was recorded by the London-based alternative band Public Service Broadcasting.  The cut contains samples from the 1936 film Night Mail.  More significantly, it also features a poem written and read by writer W.H. Auden.  The track appear on their premiere platter  Inform – Educate – Entertain which hit the stores in 2013.