Hooks and Books 5

hooks and books
Image courtesy of sfcv.org

(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:

“A Perfect Day Elise”

Alternative rock singer-songwriter PJ Harvey wrote and recorded this one for her fourth studio work, Is This Desire? It hit the record racks in September of 1998. This song lifts several elements from J.D. Salinger’s short story “A Perfect Day For Bananafish” which was published in 1948.

“All She Wants to Do Is Dance”

Don Henley did not write this song. He only recorded it. It was written by musician Danny Kortchmar.  The track is on Henley’s second solo outing, Building the Perfect Beast. Kortchmar says it was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby and the 1958 book The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”

This one was recorded by the US rock band Blue Öyster Cult. It’s off their 1976 album Agents of Fortune. The song was written by lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser. He said the song was inspired by William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet which was published sometime between 1594 and 1598.

“7 Chinese Brothers”

This track was written and recorded by the American rock band R.E.M. It’s off the group’s second album Reckoning. It dropped in 1984. The tune was partially inspired by the 1938 children’s book titled The Five Chinese Brothers, which is based on a traditional Chinese tale.


David Bowie wrote this in 1973. It’s off his 1974 platter called Diamond Dogs. The song was inspired by English novelist George Orwell’s 1949 book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Much like other material on the disc, Bowie actually intended it to be used in a stage musical based on the classic novel.