Top 10 Songs Inspired by Books

Record player with Wuthering Heights record
Category: Reading

Every year, during Book Week Scotland, we ask members of the public to take part in a vote. Now you may be aware that here at Scottish Book Trust we’re quite keen on books. And we’re also partial to a bit of music so we thought for this year’s vote we would ask people to vote on their favourite song inspired by a book, poem or piece of writing.  

To allow people to choose their favourite song inspired by a book we needed to have some tracks they could choose from. We asked the general public to submit their suggestions which, along with many hours of in-house desk research, formed the basis for our initial 100 tracks. We then assembled some leading minds in music and literature and whittled down the list to our 40 track shortlist. As you can imagine, it was incredibly tough to get down to the required number; we could’ve easily chosen 200 songs and we want to stress that our selection isn’t definitive: we just wanted to get people talking about two things we feel are very important in our culture.

Over a thousand people had their say, and the top 10 has now been decided and was announced on the Janice Forsyth Show on BBC Radio Scotland

And now, without further ado, here they are. Drumroll please...

10 (tie). "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan, inspired by The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472 by Rubin "Hurricane" Carter


"Backyard Skulls" by Frightened Rabbit, inspired by Where the Bodies are Buried by Christopher Brookmyre

9. "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed, inspired by Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren


8. "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead, inspired by The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


7. "Both Sides, Now" by Joni Mitchell, inspired by Henderson and the Rain King by Saul Bellow

6. "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, inspired by Paradise Lost by Milton


5. "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, inspired by Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov


4. "I Am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel, inspired by Meditation XVII by John Donne


3. "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane, inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


2. "Motorcycle Emptiness" by Manic Street Preachers, inspired by Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton


And at number one...

1. "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush, inspired by Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


Fancy listening to all the tracks on the top 40? We’ve got you covered. Click here for our Spotify playlist.

Want to get involved in Book Week Scotland? Visit our events page to find out more about all our great events or have a look at all the fantastic content happening as part of our Virtual Festival

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