Coming up with the title to a work is hard (except for New York Post headline writers), which makes for a convenient loophole in copyright law: Titles can’t be copyrighted. So, yes, there can be a Hemingway book titled For Whom the Bell Tolls (the title itself is an allusion to a John Donne poem), and a Metallica song by the same name. Despite common perception and certain damage to the frontal and occipital lobes, headbangers are in fact a literary set, and we think these twelve book titles would make excellent heavy metal songs.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
Spoiler alert: In this thrash-metal tribute to the sci-fi classic, androids would indeed dream of electric sleep, and their sleep would sound like the night terrors of Ridley Scott over the drone of flying automobiles and the death wail of 2,000 retired replicants.
Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol
The chorus would go, “DEAD SOULS. YOU ARE ALL DEAD SOULS. WE ARE ALL DEAD SOULS. THEY ARE BUYING YOUR DEAD SOULS. DIE, DEAD SOULS. AAAAAARGH! DEAD SOULS.” Or something like that. Then there’d be a wicked sweet guitar solo.
The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, by Robert Rankin
The chorus of this song would go, “HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES. YOU ARE ALL HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES. WE ARE ALL HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES. YOU WILL MELT IN THE POCKET OF THE APOCALYPSE. DIE, HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES. AAAAAARGH! HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES.” Then there’d be a wicked sweet drum solo.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
The conceptual lyrics riff on good versus evil and the human fear of aging, but you’d really have to see this one live, as the elaborate stage set is a dark carnival, with all the band members dressed as carnival workers. The highlight is the growling bass of the band’s leader, Mr. Dark, who is covered in tattoos of Ray Bradbury’s skull.
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, by Douglas Adams
A punk metal paean to Queen Elizabeth II. However, in the song, tea is reimagined as a boiling vat of hot oil and the traditional biscuit is reimagined as Her Royal Highness herself, dunked by Holistic Detective Dirk Gently. In a nod to Adams’ other well-known work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there is a constant background refrain of “forty-two, forty-two, forty-two, forty-two…”
The Devil Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger
This hard rock ditty, sung by Taylor Momsen of Gossip Girl and the Pretty Reckless fame, would be a send-up of the fashion industry. In an accidental confounding of The Inferno and Paradise Lost, the song would liken Fashion Week to the Seventh Circle of Hell, with Dolce & Gabbana overseeing the dressing rooms as Belial and Beelzebub.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
Cowritten with Sedaris, the song would just be a long loop of the screams of the author, at having discovered a sadistic-looking, fire-throwing clown in his closet.
Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach
What starts as a soft, sweet lullaby featuring the klezmer would devolve into a thrashing, clashing, crashing, cracking, thunderous rant against mothers, fathers, nannies, babysitters, au pairs, teachers, and, strangely, flight attendants. The album would have a Parental Advisory Label, obviously.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Written by P**sy Riot and already preemptively banned “even as an idea” in their country, the song would feature nothing more than the screeched names of all the characters in Dostoevsky’s Russian classic followed by the lyric, “Putin’s Pootin’ Is Punishment Enough.”
Invitation to a Beheading, by Vladimir Nabokov
Sung by metal megagroup Gnostical Turpitude (members TBD), the song would be just what it sounds like: the invitation to a beheading, complete with Location, Date, Time, Attire, and RSVP information. The chorus explores the aesthetic value of letterpress versus engraving.
What book title would you like to see as a heavy metal song?