Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

by Lauren

I've been on a bit of a Beatles kick lately, and--rather than my usual method of creating playlists of songs I already love by various artists--I decided to actually listen to some albums in full.  Much to my surprise, I've discovered that a song I never liked is actually pretty fun:  "Paperback Writer."

I wonder if my opinion has changed since I probably last really listened to it before I spent so much time with the slush pile: a song that's actually a query letter is truly a delight.  (It bears an unfortunate resemblance to some of the more misguided queries that come our way!)  I can certainly think of songs about books or about writers or about trying to write, but I can't think of any other songs about the business of publishing.  

There must be some, and I love a good themed playlist, so can anyone think of any other songs about the publishing industry?  Songs about writing, books, and authors also welcome.


  1. I can't hear "Paperback Writer" without thinking of a filk version of this, which is the one I actually heard first. Same tune, but it was called "Fantasy Writer", and basically rewrote the song from a fantasy novelist's perspective. It was cute. :)

    "It's about a city in the wilderland / And a zillion orcs in an evil band! / A good magician who defeats them all / It's a real! good! book! And I wanna be a FANTASY WRITER!"

  2. I've never been able to write "Dear Sir or Madam," at the top of a letter without the whole song running through my head.

  3. The Who on their "Who Are You" album has "Guitar and Pen," which is about songwriting, but says things that apply to writing in general.

  4. It's not really about publishing, but you can pretend it is: Edit, by Regina Spektor.

  5. Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" is about writer's block.

    Some others for the list: "Song for Myla Goldberg" by The Decembrists, "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse, "Hey, Jack Kerouac" by 10000 Maniacs, and "Lady Writer" by Dire Straits.

    Then there's "There she goes, my beautiful world" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Like Philip Larkin in this song, I stick it out at the library but I've got playlists like these to help me out.

  6. It's true, writing can really rock. How about these classics ...

    Please Read the Letter, recently by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, originally by Page and Plant.

    Lou Reed strongly references Shakespeare often in his work, check out NYC Man and Legendary Hearts.

    For your finale, how about The Rolling Stones' You Got Me Rocking ... "I was a writer. Can't write another book."

    A Publishing Playlist, music to write by!

  7. Ooh, thanks for all the recommendations, folks!

    Angela, that sounds DELIGHTFUL.

    And Anonymous, tenuous though the connection may be, any opportunity to listen to Regina Spektor is an opportunity I will take!


  8. As a Beatle-maniac scribbler, Paperback Writer is one of my all time favorites.

    BTW, if you listen to Helter Skelter backwards, you can hear John whisper "beware the slushhhh."

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