Top Ten Tuesday: books and songs

Top Ten Tuesday is fearlessly pioneered by the fine folks at The Broke and the Bookish.


A lot of my favourite artists write songs that are already stories. I love the Decemberists to pieces, and one of their most famous songs is a nine minute long tale of a young man taking to the seas to avenge his mother’s death, with a frequently staged climax in the belly of a whale. I live for this stuff. I think Joanna Newsom is a genius and honest-to-goodness real life white witch, and every one of her songs means something, even if I’m not 100% on what.

Words are words, and some of them are bound up into books, and some of them are sung out loud. Either way, they’re magic.

Without any further ado, I bring you THE TOP FIVE SONGS I WISH WERE BOOKS:

  1. Old Pine by Ben Howard – This song has accompanied me on a lot of road trips, and it’s the perfect combination of summery, chilled-out acoustic vibes and the bittersweet knowledge that those times have passed. “I’ve come to know… the friends around you are all you’ll always have.” It’s probably a literary fiction novel about a group of childhood friends who reunite whilst looking back on their last summer together… which makes it sound a bit like IT by Stephen King. Uh, unintentional!
  2. Which Witch by Florence + The Machine – BY WHICH I MEAN, I WANT THAT CONCEPT ALBUM ABOUT WITCH TRIALS IN HOLLYWOOD. We could have had it all. We were robbed. What could have been. #neveroverit (Honestly, most of Florence’s songs would be great stories, especially the ones on Lungs.)
  3. Divers by Joanna Newsom – A gorgeous, shimmering, doomed love story, which in book format would be pretty much exactly the same thing. Hopefully with mermaids/mermen. General mers.
  4. Monday Afternoon by Marika Hackman – I love Marika’s music, and basically all I want is a novel or twenty that has the exact spooky, moody, dark feel as last year’s debut album We Slept At Last. (THE ACCIDENT SEASON comes pretty dang close.) Failing that, I’ll take a book narrated by the ghost of the lover who got stood up in the woods and promptly lay down in a ditch and died.
  5. Lake Song by the Decemberists – This is ALREADY a YA novel and I’m mad about it. “And I, seventeen and terminally fey, I wrote it down and threw it all away…”


  1. When The War Came by the Decemberists (I have a favourite band, okay) is OBVIOUSLY about THE NEXT TOGETHER by Lauren James.
  2. Runs In The Family by Amanda Palmer is the breakneck paced, uncomfortable, unsettling theme song of A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING by Eimear McBride
  3. BOTE by Menomena is absolutely, can’t-unsee the national anthem of Theon Greyjoy from A GAME OF THRONES (or more pertinently, A CLASH OF KINGS) by George R. R. Martin
  4. Down By The Water by Signe Tollefsen (PJ Harvey cover) is inextricably linked with Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s THE ACCIDENT SEASON in my head.
  5. If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Love Song, It Would Sound Like This by Broken Records is literally about Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, but I love that play and I like this song, so I’m bending the rules and it’s making the cut, okay?! Okay.

There we go, then. A soul-baring shuffle through my iTunes library. Let me know what you think/how dreamy Colin Meloy is in the comments or on twitter @slouisebarnard!


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