1969. One of the founding members of Pink Floyd, Barrett was known for his psychedelic lyrics and LSD-fueled excursions into the musical unknown, until a mental breakdown removed him from the musical world. On his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs, Barrett sings "Poem V" from Chamber Music, sparingly arranged for an acoustic guitar.
"I Am the Walrus"
Was this classic piece of rock surrealism inspired by Finnegans Wake, or is that just a bit of rock-lit apocrypha? Speculation and information are just a click away.
"The Sensual World"
This song appears on her album of the same name. The lyrics are adapted from Molly's soliloquoy in Ulysses.
1967. This song appears on the album After Bathing at Baxters, one of the group's most psychedelic albums. The lyrics are a stream of consciousness exploration around themes and characters taken from Ulysses.
1974. The band's fourth album, Islands, evokes images of Homer and, perhaps, Joyce's Ulysses.
"Summertime in England" & "Too Long in Exile"
Two songs with minor Joyce connections -- Van Morrison name-drops Jim on both accounts.
An eclectic and very talented band from Florida, PopCanon has released a CD chock-filled with literary allusions, including a song that juxtaposes a reading of Ulysses with a birthday crucifixion.
"My House" & "Magic and Loss"
982/1992. The first song appears on the album The Blue Mask. Dedicated to the poet Delmore Schwartz, whom Lou Reed considered a mentor, one line describes their relationship in terms of Ulysses. The second song, which deals with grief, contains a small reference to Joyce.
"Chamber Music I"
Published by Sub Rosa (in Belgium) in 1994, this New Age album contains "Settings of James Joyce's Poems." According to Marco Graziosi, "Bates sings the poems with no accompaniment, he rather seems to be improvising simple melodies. I don't like this very much."
"If It All Falls Down"
On the Floridays album. This song, written by Matt Betton, makes reference to Joyce with the following lyric: "I never wanted to be a man of mystery/My life's an open book/By James Joyce and Agatha Christy" Hmmm . . . given the irony of the lyric and the punning title of the album, maybe His High Parrothead is a Joycean? And I would have tagged him as a Henry Miller kind of guy. (Thanks to Jim Tackett and Katie.)
Dream Theater is a very intriguing progressive metal band (think Kansas meets Iron Maiden) whose live excursions are filled with instrumental virtuosity and unpredictable shifts in meter and direction. According to William Wright and Tiffany Meyers, Dream Theater's keyboardist -- Kevin Moore -- is a Joyce fan, and when performing the instrumental "Eve," the group incorporates recorded readings from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man into the music. Unfortunately this is not included on the studio version of "Eve," and is available only as a live bootleg.
From the album Awake, this is another Dream Theater song with inspiration from Joyce. The beginning lines are a direct quotation from"The Dead": "Six o'clock on a Christmas Morning! And all for what? Well, isn't it for the honour of God, Aunt Kate? I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane." (Thanks to Will Vallat.)
1991. From the album Shepherd Moons, Michael Weaver remarks: "In 'Clay' (Dubliners) Maria sings a verse originally written by Michael Balfe in 1883 for the opera Bohemian Girl. It begins, 'I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls. . . ' The same verse is present in the song by Enya. Hope this isn't too obscure, or convoluted, a reference." Well, it may be pretty marginal, but don't worry, Mike -- hell, I threw in the Pogues just for a picture of Jimmy, and Enya's Irish, so why not?
The band Foetus takes their name from a passage in Portrait, where the young Stephen is musing over the oddness of the word "foetus." According to Dave Sticher, the band has a "sense of wordplay," and uses "references (both literary and not) which are obviously influenced by Joyce." On the song "Firewater," from the album Hole, they quote Ulysses: "The snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea." Again, according to Dave: "What makes this band especially interesting is the fact that the music in no way resembles something Joyce might have bothered with. It resembles -- well -- take Big Band music. Okay, now put that in a blender. Get a chain-smokin', heavy-drinkin' big gun on vocals, and put in the occasional experimental touch. Somewhat like Tom Waits, but faster, more acidic, with some drum tracks provided by Einstürzende Neubauten at times (especially on his last-track big finales). It's altogether very odd, but at the same time you can tell that some highly demented intelligence is behind it the entire way." Here is a Foetus page that features the band.
"Anna Livia Plurabelle"
An hour long jazz piece with lyrics pulled from Finnegans Wake, this entry was sent to me by Jacques Vidal, who writes: "ALP was composed by André Hodeir in 1965-66 and first recorded in 1966 at the Maison de la Radio. It was recently (1993) recorded by a group of 25 musicians (Label Bleu LBLC 6563-HM 83). If you experience trouble getting this release, you can contact Label Bleu at: LABEL BLEU - MCA - BP 631, 80006 AMIENS CEDEX 1, FRANCE, Phone: (33) 03 22 97 79 83; Fax: (33) 03 22 92 52 17." He also notes that: "another composition by Hodeir based on Joyce's writings is Bitter Endings (1972), but I never heard it and know nothing about its commercial availability."
"What a Waster"
The final track on the The Libertines' debut album, Up the Bracket, references Joyce: "When she wakes up in the morning / she writes down all her dreams. / Reads like the Book of Revelations / or The Beano, or the unabridged Ulysses." The Libertines had two lead singers and writers, Pete Doherty and Carlos Barat, who are known as well-read guys. It's uncertain who wrote this lyric, but the lyrics are appropriately Joycean, alternately describing a girl's dreams as Biblical, lowbrow ("The Beano" is a famous British comic strip, a medium Joyce himself often referenced), and highbrow (the unabridged Ulysses). After the Libertines broke up in 2005, Doherty has proven himself committed, like Joyce, to exploring the life and unique language of his homeland (some recent song titles by Doherty include "Albion," "The Last of the English Roses," and "From Bollywood to Battersea").
An avant-garde musician, Takayuki Nakano is a drummer who often incorporates passages from Finnegans Wake into his work. He has recorded several pieces containing works founded on Joycean texts, including: Another Time, , For Kenny, and 1996-1997. (The latter with a trio including Kaname Kasahara on guitar synthesizer, and Shugo Soma on guitar and guitar synthesizer.) Takayuki Nakano has a small homepage with some audio files and further information.
"If I Should Fall from Grace With God"
1988. The Pogues, that great Irish band previously lead by the true poet Shane MacGowan, released this (highly recommended) album of songs, and although James Joyce is not mentioned, his picture is on the cover -- along with all the membrers of the band, dressed up like him and striking the same classic pose, as you can see here, on the Links page. Why not visit the Pogues Web Ring, or order If I Should Fall from Grace with God and just get it over with? Everyone should own at least three copies of this album.
"Losing My Religion"
1991. According to Mike Farr and several other visitors, the video for R.E.M.'s excellent song "Losing My Religion" is full of Joycean allusions, particularly to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I agree that this seems to be the case, but until I can find concrete information, I offer this only as speculation. (Feel free to email me, Mr. Stipe!) The song, although by itself clearly unrelated to Joyce, is found on the album Out of Time; and the video is one of the best efforts in that medium -- as one would expect from a group as talented as REM.
1991. According to Michael McCullough, this song, from the album E.V.O.L., takes its beginning in a roundabout way from Stephen Dedalus's mother. In Ulysses it is noted that she had a fondness from a line in "Turko the Terrible," a line about an "invisible boy." The song "Secret Girls" echoes Mrs. Dedalus when it opens: "My mother used to say/"You're the boy that can enjoy invisibility"/I'm the boy that can enjoy invisibility/Close your eyes make a wish." I do not know whether or not Kim Gordon (bass, singer, lyrics) is fond of Joyce, but Sonic Youth are well known for their avant-garde interests, and Bob Williams tells me: "Evol is 'love' spelled backwards and comes (one hopes) from the lessons chapter: 'O Evol, kool in the slag and ees how Dozi pits what a drowser er.' Page 262, note 2."
"Here Comes Everybody"
An English band, their first album was called Here Comes Everybody, a reference from Finnegans Wake. If I find out anything more, I will post it. (Thanks to Richard Hayes for this.)
"Strings in the Earth and Air"
According to Jürgen Kiel, "Robin Williamson is a brillant Scotish folk singer and multi-instrumentalist who became a bit famous with the Incredible String Band in the sixties and early seventies. On this 1972 solo album Myrrh you will find a song based on "Strings in the Earth and Air" from Joyces Chamber Music which gives me the creeps. Joyce is not quoted on the album. It presents a hippie and Tolkien influenced work from the past. My personal recommendation is "A Glint at the Kindling" from Williamson and the Merry Band."