A melody sings just as profound a story as the written word speaks. Here are a few fictional characters paired with songs that I feel tell their stories, related by either emotion or physical experience. I tried not to reveal too much plot in case you haven’t read some of the books.
“Money” by Pink Floyd & Napoleon of Animal Farm by George Orwell
“Money” describes the greed that Napoleon learned from humans, but with some extra funk and a killer saxophone solo that’s dirtier than pigs.
“No Surprises” by Radiohead & Charlie Gordon of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
In “No Surprises,” a bell chimes the main riff in thirds throughout the entire song. The simple melody is placed in thirds like a child’s lullaby, which creates an innocent, sweet mood that contrasts with the song’s lyrics of giving up by death. After gaining a normal intelligence, Charlie realized the cruelty he mistook for friendship and his childhood’s traumas. At the end of the book Charlie was just as isolated by his intelligence as he was beforehand. I felt Charlie’s sadness in his mental passage from cradle to grave in this song.
“Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd & Watney of The Martian by Andy Weir
Similarity: Space / Space
“Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chili Peppers & the society of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This song’s bass is so clean, almost like the sterile lives of Fahrenheit 451’s world. As for the message, there’s a dark side to the sanitized version of reality.
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure & Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Imagine thick, saturated drums with gated reverb punctuated by jangling guitars. Drench whatever you thought of in synths, and that is what I would make the soundtrack to Eleanor and Park in movie format. Somehow, in my mind, the lushness of 80s music translates to Park’s falling head over heels for Eleanor.
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman & Lennie and George Of Mice and Men by Ernest Hemingway
“Fast Car” carries hope of renewal and escape, like Lennie and George’s dreams of starting their own farm.
“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam & the Creature of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The bullied becomes the bully in both “Jeremy” and Frankenstein. I guess what goes around comes around, and it comes back a whole lot worse.
I hope that this article will inspire you to consider giving some new music a listen or new book a read. If this post inspired you to make your own character/song pairings, leave ’em in the comments!