(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 Trick Of The Tail”
This is the title track from the English progressive rock band Genesis’ successful seventh studio album. It hit the record racks in February 1976. The tune was composed by keyboardist Tony Banks. His song lyrics were inspired by William Golding’s famous 1955 book, The Inheritors.
Rock band U2 included this song on their 1991 album Achtung Baby. This song is dedicated to author Delmore Schwartz, who is perhaps most famous for his 1937 short story “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.” Band frontman Bono was reading Schwartz’s poems and stories while he “was writing the words.”
“Ahab, The Arab”
Ray Stevens included this one on his 1962 vinyl 1,837 Seconds of Humor. He said the song was inspired by “Arabian Nights” and that he “wrote the song just from information . . . outta that book. You know, the book talked about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and ‘open sesame’ [and] all the fun stuff.”
“Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
The UK band The Police first included this song on their third LP Zenyatta Mondatta which dropped in September 1980. Written by frontman Sting, the song alludes to and was inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s “brilliant”, famous novel Lolita and to a lesser extent his time as an English teacher.
England’s alternative rock group Radiohead released this “additional” audio offering on their sixth studio disc, Hail to the Thief. The title was lifted from Geroge Orwell’s classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four. The book was published in 1949. The album dropped in 2003. Recorded as a studio test, it was completed in two hours.