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Richard Buckner's The Hill - possibly his best album - used only words from Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology.

Posted by Levislade | July 8, 2008 12:38 PM

The Alan Parsons Projectís first two albums, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Poe) and I Robot (Asimov).

Posted by Dorkus Malorkus | July 8, 2008 1:10 PM

The Tain by The Decemberists is based on the epic Celtic myth of the same name.

Posted by quilty3000 | July 8, 2008 2:19 PM

@3 That's one I'd forgotten, thanks. And thanks to everyone else....

I'll return tomorrow and update the post with whatever appears here ... perhaps making it the most definitive list of its kind ANYWHERE. Fantastic!

Posted by Darby McDevitt | July 8, 2008 3:39 PM
Posted by Brian | July 8, 2008 3:47 PM

Thought of one more - Stephen Tunney, a.k.a Dogbowl (and co-founder of King Missle), released an album Flan in the early '90s that were songs from the novel of the same name that he wrote.

Posted by quilty3000 | July 8, 2008 6:34 PM

And also the Decemberists' Crane Wife was inspired by an ancient chinese proverb, Colin Meloy foudn a book of it in a bookstore in Portland.

Posted by Morgan | July 8, 2008 7:23 PM

Brian Eno/David Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was inspired by the Amos Tutuola novel of the same title.

Posted by segal | July 8, 2008 7:29 PM

@5 Thanks for the link. A quick search for the word "album" on this page unearths a few more full-lengths. Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels abound as source material, it seems.

There's no dearth of musicians who have dashed out a quick song in response to their precious experience with a great novel, and this list proves it. I suppose I'm more interested in artists who have attempted full adaptations because the creative and intellectual process of attempting it would be so exquisitely torturous.

Posted by Darby McDevitt | July 8, 2008 8:41 PM

My thirst for recognizing literature as the basis for popular music is less specific than the novel form. Often genre plays a key role in understanding a milieu. I would love to do an essay on post-punk and authors who have influenced those musicians, for example -- The Stranglers' love for Mishima and Heinlein, or Siouxsie's inspiration from Kosinski -- just to start me investigating Ian Curtis and Julian Cope and finding out why they were/are such utterly brilliant writers themselves.

Posted by Chris Estey | July 9, 2008 8:29 AM

I'd second that Richard Buckner album Levi mentioned @ #1. I'm not even a particularly big fan of Buckner's, but that album is great.

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 9, 2008 11:41 AM

@10 That too would be a fruitful adventure.... I posted on this topic mainly because I was curious about the art of adaptation itself; the challenge of a sustained grappling with someone else's work. "The Adaptation" is almost a genre by itself, with its own loose rules and porous boundaries.

So, although I don't necessarily find adaptations more or less important than original work, I am interested in teasing out for myself what might constitute a "successful" or, at the very least, an "interesting" adaptation in this mode, in much the same way we evaluate films adapted from books. Stanley Kubrick, for instance, was a fine adapter of other people's material ... on the other hand, did anyone see one of the two film adaptations of Ulysses? Awful, incompetent, and misguided, IMO...

And as discerning viewers of film, we are perfectly within our rights to claim 'This was an interesting adaptation of this film' and 'This was not' and offer our reasons why. But does it come as naturally to say the same about an album of adapted material? I just don't think anyone bothers..... why not? I've never heard anyone defend or attack the Mastodon record on these grounds.... hmmm.

Posted by Darby McDevitt | July 9, 2008 11:58 AM

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