Friday, 17 August 2012

If music be the food of love


Since time immemorial, literary greats have been immortalising their appreciation for music through their words. As well as Shakespeare encouraging us to "play on", there are numerous other authors who have given music the nod in their works: Vikram Seth's An Equal Music and Proust's In Search of Lost Time are equally suffused with love for all those black and white dots and lines. There are also plenty of songs that retell a work of literature - not only is there Kate Bush's legendary retelling of Wuthering Heights, but a whole catalogue of Iron Maiden songs based on works by Edgar Allan Poe, Aldous Huxley, and William Golding (to name just a few) also exists (a comprehensive list of such songs can be viewed here).

So if you have any friends with summer birthdays on the horizon, why not educate and entertain them simultaneously with an album from one of the bands in the list above? Or perhaps invest in books like 31 Songs (by the musically talented Nick Hornby), Alex Ross' monumental tome The Rest Is Noise, or Rose Tremain's Music and Silence?

The history of humans enjoying music certainly goes back a long way, right back to when people first learned that beating a stick on a stone could make a pleasing rhythm. Since then we've enjoyed everything from Ancient Greek music to Alex Clare, and from madrigals to Maroon 5. Luckily for us bookworms, there are plenty of books on these subjects as well.

Over the next few days, though, I'll be working with the Guardian to respond to their questions, providing insight into my personal 'sound'. We've all been asked which songs mean the most to us, but sometimes defining why can be difficult. It's also said that everyone has a book in them - and at times it really would take a whole book to explain how some songs are irretrievably linked with certain pivotal moments in our lives.

To start with, though, I give you "This Summer I Went Swimming". It's not based on a book of any kind, but was a favourite of a book-loving friend of mine who is now no longer with us.

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