Words and music

ian-rankin-author-150.jpgScottish crime author Ian Rankin has announced plans to release his debut single later this month, according to music magazine NME.

The award-winning writer of the Inspector Rebus series has been collaborating with Charlatans singer Tim Burgess on a spoken word project that combines a short story written by Rankin with music composed by Burgess.

The musical short story, called A Little Bit of Powder, will be read by British actor Craig Parkinson.

The rock n' roll-loving Rankin, who titled his seventh Inspector Rebus book Let It Bleed after the Rolling Stones tune, certainly isn't the first author to collaborate with a musician on a song. Here are five others we've enjoyed.

Nick Hornby and Ben Folds

It's clear from reading Nick Hornby's books, particularly High Fidelity, that the man has a big record collection. So his 2010 album Lonely Avenue, co-written with American singer-songwriter Ben Folds, seemed like a natural move. Hornby provided the lovelorn song lyrics while Folds wrote the ultra-catchy, piano-driven music. 

Salman Rushdie and U2

Bono was inspired after reading Rushdie's 1999 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet to write a ballad for the fictional character Ormus Carna grieving his dead lover. Rushdie gave permission to the band to incorporate his prose into the song lyrics, which appeared as part of the soundtrack for the film The Million Dollar Hotel. Rushdie even appeared in the music video.

William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain

The lead singer- songwriter of the iconic grunge band Nirvana was a lifelong fan of the Beat poet and author. In 1992, Cobain contacted him about the possibility of working on a musical literary project. What resulted was one of the most, uh, unique Christmas recordings of all-time: Burroughs reading a short story about a heroin addict desperate to score on Christmas Eve, set to Cobain playing a wailing, dissonant version of Silent Night on guitar.

Margaret Atwood and The Sadies

In 2010, Atwood stopped by Q to talk about the book tour for her latest novel The Year of the Flood. It was an unconventional tour featuring Canadian rock band The Sadies as a backing band during Atwood's readings. The band joined her on Q to perform a jaunty Southern-style tune called The Water-Shrew That Rends Its Prey.

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Stephen King and John Mellencamp and T-Bone Burnett

King's love of music is well known from his days with the literary supergroup the Rock Bottom Remainders. For this latest project, he's teamed up with American heartland rocker Mellencamp and folk-country producer Burnett to create a Southern Gothic musical called Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. Apparently, Mellencamp conceived the plot, which revolves around a pair of feuding brothers in Mississippi who may be headed towards the same tragic end as their uncles, who are now ghosts.

What are your favourite author-musician collaborations? Let us know in the comments below.

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