The Influence Of Fantasy/Sci-Fi Literature
The connection between J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings books and Led Zeppelin is one of rock's most well-established curiosities, but to this very day it manages to surprise longtime fans of the band. Robert Plant was such a fan of Tolkien's work that he named his dog Strider and worked many elements of the series into the band's song titles and lyrics.
For example, "Ramble On" directly references Gollum and Mordor. "Misty Mountain Hop" is about Bilbo's destination in The Hobbit. "The Battle Of Evermore" deals with Eowyn leaving Aragorn to join the departing armies of Rohan, and refers to the Ringwraiths by name. Although it doesn't contain any specific references, "Stairway To Heaven" has been linked to Middle Earth because of its passage about smoke rings (which Gandalf was known for blowing); "looking to the west" as a possible allusion to sailing across the Sundering Sea, which is almost presented as passing into Heaven; and the lady (possibly Galadriel) surrounded by gold (Lothlorien tree leaves were described as golden).
While the last example is rather shaky, there is no doubt that Led Zeppelin loved them some hobbits. I wanted to know if they were the only musical act to be influenced to such a degree by genre fiction, so I did some research. As it turns out, there are more fellow nerds in the industry than anyone could have imagined.
- Bob Dylan's decision to go from an acoustic sound to electric was inspired by a number of science-fiction books, primarily Isaac Asimov's Empire series, in which a number of fantastical technological advancements used electricity.
- The entirety of Beck's album Sea Change is a word-for-word reading of George R.R. Martin's first book in A Song Of Fire And Ice series, A Game Of Thrones.
- A huge fan of the Star Wars novelizations (but not the movies), Lady Gaga had her left hand cut off by a lightsaber during a performance in Toronto.
- Bob Dylan's decision to return to an acoustic sound was inspired by a number of fantasy books, primarily Anne McCaffrey's then-new Dragonriders Of Pern series, in which a number of fantastical events take place without the use of electricity.
- One of Sean Combs' many aliases, Zeddicus Z'ul Zorander, was chosen and heavily promoted after the discovery of the Sword Of Truth books by Terry Goodkind. He remained a fan of the series until he reached the fifth book, which he tossed aside in anger after discovering that it centered around the charming swordsman Sean Combs.
- Lemmy from Motorhead's zero-gravity recording studio was inspired by Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.
- After becoming engrossed in the Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan, the lead singer from Cake decided to take the wheel concept and apply it to his band's music. As a result, their album Pressure Chief was released in CD format, which is a spinning circular disc that resembles a wheel.
- The foundation for David Bowie's Space Oddity was formed at a friend's party, when Bowie came across an open copy of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey with an enormous pile of cocaine covering the pages.
- Pete Townsend of The Who loved The Chronicles Of Narnia so much that he began collecting child pornography on his computer.
- Stephen King's Dark Tower series made a tremendous impression on Taylor Swift. Not content with simply naming her album The Dark Tower, she also used it as the title for each song, and responds to every question in every interview with "The Dark Tower."
- Kid Rock, the most authentic man in music, has read His Majesty's Dragon so many times that he has literally fallen into the book and currently finds himself trapped in another world with no way home. Help!
- For his Deltron 3030 album, Del tha Funkee Homosapien read up on a lot of sci-fi classics, including Frank Herbert's Dune. This book would resonate with him, inspiring Del to die and have Brian Herbert compose a series of disappointing follow-ups to the album.
- Every single Seal song aside from "Kiss From A Rose" is actually about The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, but no one will ever find out.
- Dave Grohl enjoyed Gene Wolfe's Book Of The New Sun so much that he married it.
- Before every live performance, Nicki Minaj looks in the mirror and asks herself "What would Harry Potter do?", and every night Harry Potter tells her that he would wear a brightly colored wig and make a funny face with big eyes.
- It's easy enough to imagine that sci-fi had an effect on Daft Punk, but it might come as a surprise to learn that their primary source of inspiration came from the dark, gritty novels set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Take, for instance, their helmets which are vaguely similar to those worn by Space Marines, or the fact that many of their most enthusiastic fans are overzealous creeps from hell.
While many irresponsible Web sites have already released their Best of 2010 lists, thereby shafting the many important artists who release relevant material in December, Something Awful will hold its year-end coverage until 2011. There won't be a music column next week, but something great will be in its place. Happy New Year!