It’s hard to deny the powerful link between poetry and music. Even though we parse the two into distinct categories, poets and musicians themselves blur the lines, taking inspiration from each other – stealing and sharing lines, lyrics, and rhythms. For the love of both poetry and music, this week we are highlighting artists who have honored their favorite poets with songs.
It’s also hard to choose just a few songs, so instead of editing, we’ve broken this playlist into two parts. If you like Part I, keep your eyes peeled for Part II.
Check out the project in its entirety here: Unsweetened: A Playlist for a Feminist Future on Spotify.
“Time To Think,” Kimya Dawson
Singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson name drops a few literary figures here, including Sylvia Plath. But Plath is also at the heart of the song which begins: “when they ask me what I need.” The answer is many, many things, namely “time to think.” Similarly, in The Bell Jar, Plath writes, “When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.” The answer: “She wants to be everything.”
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Susan McKeown and Natalie Merchant
Susan McKeown and Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs) set this well-known Emily Dickinson poem to music.
“Caged Bird,” Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys drew her inspiration for this song from Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
“Gertrude + Stein,” The Butchies
Form and rhythm, form and rhythm. From Gertrude Stein. See what I did there? I apologize. Anyway, early aughties queer punk and Lost Generation lesbian poetry definitely mix.
“Sun in My Mouth,” Björk
Björk transforms E. E. Cummings’ poem “I Will Wade Out” into an exhilarating ode to masturbation.
“Apres moi,” Regina Spektor
When Spektor begins singing in Russian, the lyrics are from a poem by Boris Pasternak. “Get ink, shed tears.”
“Body Electric,” Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey takes some liberties with Walt Whitman here, but she does indeed “sing the body electric.”
If you like these songs, you will love the playlist.