I’m a big fan of early punk and new wave. I’m also a huge fan of classic literature. Here are ten punkish (my husband is forcing this disclaimer: I KNOW these don’t all fall in the “punk” category, but they are in the same vein) theme songs that remind me of some of my favorite literary works.

1. The Catcher in the Rye–“Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou ReedThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This was an easy one. Holden’s adventures in New York City connect evenly with Lou Reed’s.

2. Hamlet–“Digital” by Joy Division

Oh Hamlet…so paranoid.

“I feel it closing in, I feel it closing in, day in, day out, day in, day out…”

3. Wuthering Heights–“Mother” by Danzig

Heathcliff. Mothers. Fathers. Lock your daughters up and away from the diabolical Heathcliff.

“Father. Gonna take your daughter out tonight. Gonna show her my world. Oh father.”

Heh, heh…Glen Danzig even kinda looks like Heathcliff.

4. Romeo and Juliet–“What Do I Get” by the Buzzcocks

If they hadn’t died tragically, I think Romeo would have tired of Juliet eventually. He just wanted a girlfriend–he was in love with love. I think Friar Lawrence told him that. But, before Juliet, he was unlucky in love. This is Romeo’s pre-Juliet theme song.

“I just want a lover like any other, what do I get? […] I only get sleepless nights, alone here in my half-empty bed,”

5. The Age of Innocence–“Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet UndergroundThe Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The sad affair of Newland Archer and Countess Olenska:

It was good what we did yesterday.

And I’d do it once again.

The fact that you are married,

Only proves, you’re my best friend.

But it’s truly, truly a sin.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

 

6. The Portrait of a Lady–“Reptile” by The Church and “Gut Feeling” by Devo

Gilbert Osmond is truly an evil snake, and Isabel Archer doesn’t realize it until she is trapped into marriage with him! These two songs encapsulate what I think that must feel like.

Too dangerous to keep.

Too feeble to let go.

And you want to bite the hand.

Should have stopped this long ago.

I looked for sniffy linings

but you’re rotten to the core

I’ve had just about all I can take

you know I can’t take it no more

Got a gut feeling

7. Bleak House–“I Love Livin’ in the City” by Fear and “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam and “Boredom” by The BuzzcocksBleak House by Charles Dickens

The nastiness that is London is perfectly set to music in the gritty “I Love Livin’ in the City” and the bitter “That’s Entertainment”. Dickens would’ve approved.

Bodies wasted in the street,

People dyin’ on the street,

But the suburban scumbags, they don’t care,

Just get fat and dye their hair!

A smash of glass and the rumble of boots –

An electric train and a ripped up ‘phone booth –

Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat –

Lights going out and a kick in the balls –

that’s entertainment

And for Lady Dedlock, “Boredom” by The Buzzcocks. Certainly her theme song!

8. Sense and Sensibility–“Ever Fallen in Love” by The BuzzcocksSense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Another Buzzcocks tune, this time for Marianne Dashwood and Willoughby. Theirs was an unfortunate love affair. The fast pace of this tune reminds me of their mad dash love affair.

 I can’t see much of a future

Unless we find out what’s to blame

What a shame

And we won’t be together much longer

Unless we realize that we are the same

Ever fallen in love with someone?

Ever fallen in love? […]

You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with

9. Washington Square–“Shakespeare’s Sister” by The SmithsWashington Square by Henry James

I admit that I haven’t read this book yet, but I saw the movie, and this song, particularly a certain part, reminds me of the young heiress trying to get past her father so that she might run away with her fortune-hunter(?) suitor.

But I’m going to meet the one I love

So please don’t stand in my way

Because I’m going to meet the one I love

No, Mamma, let me go !

10. The Portable Dorothy Parker–“Love Like Anthrax” by Gang of FourThe Portable Dorothy Parker

I’m pretty sure that Dorothy Parker would have been into punk rock had she been alive. Surely, she would have approved of the lyrics in this song, which takes the same sardonic view of love:

“Love’ll get you like a case of anthrax

And that’s something I don’t want to catch.”

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