In my English class in the 9th grade, I was dozing off when, during my teacher’s lecture, she compared one of the novels we recently read to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Mystified, I immediately sprung up not because I knew the book, but because I knew the band. Thinking that my teacher was talking about the band, I had to ask a classmate what the heck she was talking about. I had no idea before this moment that As I Lay Dying named themselves after a book. It made me realize how much literature means to bands, as nowadays I hear music all the time that references classic novels and poetry because of their recurring themes. So I thought it would be interesting to see what other bands named themselves after literary works and the importance behind their names’ representations.
Of Mice And Men: John Steinbeck’s classic novel with the same name as the band focuses in on the life of a farmer during the Great Depression and the realizations he has after plowing over a mouse. The story’s moral is that planning out our lives can go wrong when outside forces intervene, in this case, the farmer’s plow. Because of vocalist Austin Carlile’s departure from Attack Attack! and even at one point Of Mice And Men due to health issues, this name is quite fitting. It proves that outside forces can definitely change someone’s future, and the metalcore quintet is living proof of that.
As I Lay Dying: It’s interesting to think about what the title of William Faulkner’s book truly represents. What he is trying to get across to the reader is that everyone is dying: you, me, and even the members of metalcore band As I Lay Dying. Taken from a line in Homer’s Odyssey, Faulkner’s book title represents something both morbid and enlightening, and I’ve definitely seen this message strung across in As I Lay Dying’s music, through the band’s striking images of skulls and often death-related lyrics. A big message behind the band’s lyrics is purpose in life, and Faulkner’s classic novel gives a little bit of thought to readers about what that truly could be.
The Devil Wears Prada: Though the band claims they took their name from the book before it became a movie, there are still a lot of people who think Mike Hranica and crew stole their name from the film. Considering that The Devil Wears Prada is a Christian band, the name has a strong message behind it. The meaning of the phrase “the devil wears prada” is that the devil is fake and disguised to fool people, and that materialism isn’t important. If there’s anything in the lyrics of The Devil Wears Prada that isn’t further proof that what’s inside of a person matters more than their appearance, I don’t know what is.
The Doors: Jim Morrison’s heavy drug use and alcohol consumption caused his early death at just 27 years old in 1970. His band, The Doors, named themselves after Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, a book that circles around Aldous Huxley’s usage of the drug mescaline. The book title represents a lack of clarity, and the use of drugs clouds up the way things are perceived. The book introduces a very heavy topic and turns it into more of an art form, and it forms a kind of realization that Morrison had failed to break through the “doors of perception.”
The Dangerous Summer: The Dangerous Summer was the last major work by Ernest Hemingway before he committed suicide in 1960. The book, which depicts bullfighting in Spain during what was called “the dangerous summer,” has to do with courage and facing death. It represents the idea that everybody faces death and danger in their life, and it takes bravery to get past it. The band’s song “This Is War” focuses in on similar aspects of the novel’s themes, and with a sound structured to suit the summer months, the name fits the band’s tenor well.
Sixpence None The Richer: Tons of artists in today’s music scene named themselves after C.S. Lewis’ series of novels entitled The Chronicles of Narnia, including the Screwtape Letters, Future of Forestry, and Poor Old Lu. However, Sixpence None The Richer takes their name not from Narnia, but Lewis’ novel Mere Christianity. In the story, a boy asks his father for a sixpence so he can buy a gift for him, and after receiving the gift, the father realizes that it didn’t make him any wealthier. Just like the many religious themes in Lewis’ novels, this theme compares to the belief that God gives everybody gifts, and the gift of life in the first place. The band’s wrenching lyrical depth provides an inspection of the Christian faith and a lot of Sixpence None The Richer’s perspective writing further supports the story from which they took their name.
Amon Amarth: Amon Amarth is a name that just screams “metal.” The Swedish death metal band took their name from the Middle-earth volcano from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Translated to Mount Doom in English, Amon Amarth is just like a volcano. It erupts with a raging fury and oozes down onto listeners and overwhelms them with a putrid feel. It’s a name that’s very suitable for a band with such an ear-invading sound, and with a fantasy novel uprooting their name, it gives a more mystical vibe, comparable to what many European death metal bands write about today.
Modest Mouse: Naming themselves after Virginia Woolf’s story A Mark on the Wall, the alternative indie group proves that they have just as much meaning as the passage that they named themselves after. The passage describes person who wishes to think boastful about himself, and talks about other people being “modest, mouse-colored people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.” Much of the band’ lyrical content depicts the struggle for man to fully succeed and find the right way, so Modest Mouse definitely understands his sentiments. Often the band writes about their struggle with famoscity, and this quote definitely grabs a rope somewhere along those lines.