Wuthering Heights voted Scotland’s favourite song inspired by a book
Kate Bush’s hit song, "Wuthering Heights", has been revealed as Scotland’s favourite song inspired by a book or poem, in a vote for Book Week Scotland. Scottish Book Trust, the national charity which runs Book Week Scotland, has announced that Wuthering Heights, the 1978 Number One hit by Kate Bush, has been voted the winner with 17% of the total votes.
After watching the last few minutes of the 1967 BBC dramatisation of Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush was inspired to read Emily Bronte's book and write the classic song. The song is sung from the point of view of character Catherine Earnshaw, and uses several quotations from the book, using Cathy's famous quote: “I'm so cold, Let me in through your window.”
"Motorcycle Emptiness" by Manic Street Preachers was voted second place with 8% of the overall public vote. The song was inspired by Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton, who was well-known for writing about gang culture, violence and teen alienation in mid-twentieth century America. Her novel inspired the 1992 song about the emptiness of consumer culture and the expectations on young people to conform.
In third place, with 6% of the overall vote, is "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane, which references Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Considered to be one of the most iconic songs of ‘60s psychedelic rock, the track links the book to the era's counter-culture movement, as well as to the importance of education. Grace Slick, the song's writer, stated, “I identified with Alice. I was a product of ‘50s America where women were housewives with short hair and everything was highly regulated. I went from the planned, bland ‘50s to the world of being in a rock band without looking back.”
Selkirk band, Frightened Rabbit, also made the Top 10, in joint-tenth place, with Backyard Skulls, inspired by crime writer Christopher Brookmyre’s Where the Bodies are Buried. The band's primary songwriter, Scott Hutchison was inspired by the idea of detectives using aerial imaging to find undiscovered bodies and said, “I took this idea and threaded it into a song about unpleasant secrets in a more general sense. Infidelity, mistakes, wrong-doings. These things are never really gone, no matter how far down you bury them.”
Members of the public were encouraged to submit their favourite book and poetry inspired songs via social media and the Scottish Book Trust website. This longlist was then evaluated by a panel who helped reduce the submissions into a ‘Top 40’ playlist. The panel consisted of Sarah Mason, Saltire Society Programme Director; Kirsty Baird, Sing in the City Founder and Musical Director; and Nyla Ahmad, Book Week Scotland Young Programmer.
Book Week Scotland runs from 27 November to 3 December. The winning song was announced by music journalist Vic Galloway on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Janice Forsyth Show on Thursday 30 November.
The week-long celebration, now in its sixth year, is run by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing. Hundreds of events and activities are taking place all across the country, during the week.
Book Week Scotland was initiated by the Scottish Government and is supported by £200,000 from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland Targeted Funding, and £24,000 from SLIC.
‘Top Ten’ Songs as voted by the public:
1. Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte)
2. Motorcycle Emptiness, Manic Street Preachers (Rumble Fish, S.E. Hinton)
3. White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)
4. I Am a Rock, Simon & Garfunkel (Meditation XVII, John Donne)
= 5. Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones (The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov)
= 5. Red Right Hand, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Paradise Lost, Milton)
7. Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell (Henderson and the Rain King, Saul Bellow)
8. Paranoid Android, Radiohead (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams)
9. Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed (Walk on the Wild Side, Nelson Algren)
= 10. Hurricane, Bob Dylan (The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter)
= 10. Backyard Skulls, Frightened Rabbit (Where the Bodies are Buried, Christopher Brookmyre)
For more background about the songs selected, visit Scottish Book Trust’s website.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “Storytelling is key to poetry, novels and songs. During Book Week Scotland, we are delighted to celebrate the power of stories through this vote, and we hope the public enjoyed learning about the background of these well-known songs as much as we did.”
BBC Broadcaster and music journalist, Vic Galloway:
“Books and song-writing are intrinsically linked, now more than ever as pop/rock music moves further into its 7th decade and the audiences crossover. Anyone who wants to hear about intimate human expression will be interested if not fanatical, about both – I know I certainly am. It's been a pleasure to go through the 40 strong long-list of tracks and then to see this wonderful Top 10 for Book Week Scotland. I've discovered the true inspiration behind lots of well-known songs – some quite unusual and unexpected. And well done to Selkirk rockers Frightened Rabbit for getting in there too!”
Notes to Editors
For more information or images please contact Press Officer Keara Donnachie:
Keara.Donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com or 0131 524 0184.
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure though programmes and outreach work that include:
- Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
- Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
- Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
- Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promoting Scottish writing to people worldwide.
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.