There’s Something About Libraries and Old Bookshops…

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Folk Music, Rock Music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As far back as I can remember I’ve been an avid reader.  As a kid, I would look forward to the summer reading lists handed out at the end of the school year and bury my nose in one after another that I had lugged home from the library.  I was also fortunate enough to have grown up about two blocks from the local branch of our New York Public Library.

The photo below is of the library I used as a kid (the modern building to the right wasn’t there then).  This particular branch opened in 1905 and was designed by the firm of Babb, Cook & Willard.  It was one of the 65 branch libraries opened using funds donated by industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

As I got older, and my literary horizons went beyond school assignments I became, like many boys, a fan of The Hardy Boys mystery series.  My parents would buy them for me as they arrived on the shelves of the local bookshop and I was transfixed (somewhat like the Harry Potter books of their day only a lot shorter).


The years have flown by and so have a lot of book pages.  I’m still a fan of reading and I do still love an afternoon in an old bookstore.  Earlier this year I had the opportunity to spend a Sunday afternoon in “Shakespeare and Company” just off the Latin Quarter in Paris and last week, on a trip to San Francisco, I made some time to visit City Lights Bookstore up the edge of North Beach.  Both are gems and highly recommended.

Shakespeare and Company – Paris, France

(picture left: by me.  picture right: by a passerby)


City Lights Books – San Francisco, CA

(picture left: by me.  picture right: by a passerby)


My search for a musical connection to books and libraries wasn’t the easiest task but if you’ve been to The Eclectic Ear before you already know I wasn’t about to give up.  Turns out there’s a music genre known as “lit-rock”.  Who knew?   8-)

  1. “Librarian” – My Morning Jacket – a really nice song by Kentucky-based rock band led by Jim James.
  2. “Library Card” – Melvill Dewey – rap for kids and a good message.  Can it be true that only 3% of Americans have a library card?  Tssk.  Tssk.
  3. “Paperback Writer” – The Beatles – a classic 1966 track from the Fab Four courtesy of Lennon and McCartney.
  4. “A Rose for Emily” – The Zombies – a song based on the novel of the same name by William Faulkner.  Found on their classic release “Odyssey and Oracle”.  I’d waive late fees for rock stars who get literary.
  5. “White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane – The JA’s 1967 nod to Lewis Carrol’s “Alice In Wonderland” and its sequel “Through the Looking Glass.  Grace wrote this song before joining the band and it became one of their biggest hits.
  6. “Sylvia Plath” – Ryan Adams – Ryan’s ode to the late poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963).
  7. “Pound of Flesh” – Regina Spektor – inspired by Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”.


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