There has been a long and varied tradition of songwriters taking song titles from books: Venus In Furs - The Velvet Underground, Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush, Lost Weekend - Lloyd Cole, 1984- David Bowie, Absolute Beginners- David Bowie.
And, of course, it goes the other way too.
My book Guns Of Brixton took its title from a song by The Clash and I used Clash songs to frame it. My follow up, Cold London Blues, does the same thing with the songs of Vic Godard and Subway Sect. And A Rainy Night In Soho will do the same with The Pogues.
And it’s no surprise that many Brit Grit writers have taken the same approach, usually using punk and post- punk songs as inspiration.
Here we go 2,3,4:
Mark Timlin published a book called Guns Of Brixton years before I did. Ian Ayris’ April Skies uses the Jesus and Mary Chain, Tony Black’s London based short story collection is invariably called London Calling – The Clash again. Ian Rankin recently chose The Associates’ Even Dogs In The Wild. Nick Quantrill used a Wilco song for the title of The Late Greats, and The Crooked Beat is one of The Clash’s lesser known songs. James Hilton’s debut thriller is Search and Destroy – Iggy and The Stooges, Jim Iron and John Steel’s Glory Boys is taken from a Secret Affair song. Ray Banks used The Stranglers for No More Heroes. Nigel Bird gave us Mr Suit (Wire) and Beat On The Brat (Ramones). Graham Wynd chose The Fall’s Extricate and Steve Suttie gave us the Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads).
And it’s not just punk songs that work as crime fiction titles. Nick Triplow used a Tom Waits song for Frank’s Wild Years and Adrian McKinty has used five of Mr Waits’ ditties, the most recent being Rain Dogs.
Sheila Quigley always uses song titles for her books, starting with Lindisfarne’s Run For Home, and more recently The Sound Of Silence. Andy Rivers used The Beatles for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Aidan Thorn chose When The Music’s Over (The Doors).
And that’s only this side of the pond. Josh Stallings Young Americans (David Bowie) and K A Laity’s White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane) are just a couple of recent American examples that come to mind.
And there are plenty more, I’m sure.
So, who did I miss? And any suggestions?
Paul D. Brazill is the author of The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.