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    Posted on Jul 28, 2013

    Shakespeare's iPod: If Shakespeare had an iPod, he'd most likely have these tracks playing...

    Shakespeare's plays often have songs and are known for their lyrical quality. Lorenzo, in "The Merchant of Venice," states the importance of music and wisely warns against those who don't love music: The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. (5.1.91-7) Shakespeare was obviously a lover of music, and the characters, plots, and themes of his plays have inspired operas, ballets, musical theatre, and classical pieces. Here are some modern rock and pop songs inspired by Shakespeare. If Shakespeare had an iPod, he'd most likely be listening to these tracks. Mark the Music!

    If Shakespeare had an iPod, he'd most likely have these tracks playing...

    11. Bob Dylan- "Desolation Row" (Live 1966)

    View this video on YouTube / Via

    America's great modern bard, Bob Dylan, has often turned to the Bard over the years for inspiration. His song "Desolation Row" is a compendium of literary characters--including Ophelia and Juliet.

    "Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window

    For her I feel so afraid

    On her twenty-second birthday

    She already is an old maid

    To her, death is quite romantic"

    Plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, (and many non-Shakespearean literary allusions as well)

    10. The Tragically Hip- "Cordelia"

    View this video on YouTube / Via

    Canada's (unofficial) national band give us a great, bluesy take on some good old fashioned roguery, Cordelia's loyalty, and defying the Scottish play curse.

    "Treading the boards, screaming out Macbeth

    Just to see how much bad luck you really get"

    Plays: King Lear, Macbeth

    9. Mumford and Sons - "Sigh No More"

    View this video on YouTube

    The neo-folk British band Mumford and Sons borrows heavily from the "Sigh No More" song of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" to prove that indeed 'man is a giddy thing.'

    "Sigh no more, no more

    One foot in sea, one on shore

    My heart was never pure

    You know me

    You know me

    But man is a giddy thing"

    Play: Much Ado About Nothing

    8. Lou Reed "Romeo Had Juliette"

    View this video on YouTube

    The Velvet Underground frontman reimagines the star-crossed lovers as young rockers on the rough streets of New York City.

    "Caught between the twisted stars

    the plotted lines the faulty map

    that brought Columbus to New York

    Betwixt between the East and West"

    Play: Romeo and Juliet

    7. John's Children - "Desdemona"

    View this video on YouTube

    John's Children, a 1960's mod band, featuring a young Marc Bolan (or T. Rex fame) were banned from the radio for the bawdy lyrics of their Othello-inspired classic.

    "Desdemona just because you're the daughter of a man

    He may be rich, he's in a ditch, he does not understand

    Just how to move or rock and roll

    To the conventions of the young "

    Play: Othello

    6. Dire Straits - "Romeo and Juliet"

    View this video on YouTube

    Great 1980's rock band Dire Straits take on the themes of "Romeo & Juliet," in a song often covered by other bands.

    Sample lyrics:

    "Juliet when we made love you used to cry

    You said I love you like the stars above, I'll love you till I die

    And there's a place for us, you know the movie song

    When you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?"

    Play: Romeo and Juliet

    5. John Cale - "MacBeth"

    View this video on YouTube

    Another Velvet Underground alumnus, the Welsh rocker John Cale, turned to "Macbeth" for his own take on Shakespeare.

    "Welcome home Macbeth

    It's been a long long time

    And everyone knows you're here

    It's easy to see they care"

    Play: Macbeth

    4. The Decemberists - "The Island: Come and See" (Live in Sydney)

    View this video on YouTube

    The Portland band is known for its literary allusions, and "The Island" does not disappoint with its references to "The Tempest."

    "In the lowlands, nestled in the heat

    A briar cradle rocks it's babe to sleep

    Its contents watched by Sycorax"

    Play: The Tempest

    3. Musetta - "Ophelia's Song"

    View this video on YouTube

    This band from Milan gives Ophelia chance to tell her ill-fated love story.

    "When I fall in love I get dizzied.

    I fall out there's just dirt to dish,

    a memory to drown me in."

    Play: Hamlet

    2. Loudon Wainwright III - "Prince Hal's Dirge" (The BBC Sessions)

    View this video on YouTube

    A perfect, folksy song for a hangover of Falstaffian proportions, Wainwright incorporates both Shakespearean lines and verses that just sound authentically Shakespearean to craft this dirge.

    "Give me a capon,

    And some roguish companion,

    A wench, and a bottle of sack.

    Take me to the ale house,

    Take me to the whore house.

    If I vomit, keep me off of my back."

    Play: 1 Henry IV

    1. Billy Bragg - "Milkman of Human Kindness"

    View this video on YouTube

    UK activist, punk, poet, and generally awesome guy, Billy Bragg turns Lady Macbeth's insult against Macbeth's manhood into love lyrics:

    "I love you

    I am the milkman of human kindness

    I will leave an extra pint "

    Play: Macbeth

    I am indebted to & recommend looking at the following sources:

    Barney Jeffries's "Readers recommend: songs about Shakespeare – results" UK Guardian. 14 Feb. 2013. Web.

    Folger Shakespeare Library's "Play On: Songs Inspired by Shakespeare." Folger Shakespeare Library. Web.

    Bill DeMain's "11 Popular Songs That Reference Shakespeare." 11 July 2012. Web.

    Thumbnail Image of "The Shakespeare Band" via "Mrs. DeRap's Online Class." 17 mar. 2010. Web.

    "William Shakespere." Comment on Shakespearean Songs. Facebook. 13 July 2013. Web.

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