Songs of the Dark Tower


5/4-5/10
Wolves Of The Calla:
Part Two, 3.i-5.iii

*This post contains full series spoilers

It’s no secret that Music is important to Stephen King. He uses song lyrics as epigraphs in many of his novels, he’s constantly referencing bands and singers. One of the first things we learn about Roland’s world all the way back in the beginning of The Gunslinger (a detail he deemed necessary to include in his “Argument” at the beginning of each book), is that “Hey Jude” is a popular tune. The Wastelands heavily features ZZ-Top’s “Velcro Fly”, Wolves of the Calla opens with a Rodney Crowell quote, and now this week we read about Pere Callahan’s preternatural relationship with Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

So I thought this week would be as good a week as any to post something I’ve wanted to do since starting this project: compiling a full track list of every single song mentioned in the Dark Tower. Pretty cool, huh? Well it turns out someone already did it, and it’s already been blogged about. This Gizmodo article highlights a commenter (PatrickScalisi) who shared their ultimate Dark Tower discography with the world. So instead of doing what’s already been done, I’ve decided to highlight a few songs that aren’t officially Dark Tower-related, but which have undeniable (if only incidental) Dark Tower vibes.

The Tower Of Song

Leonard Cohen

I was introduced to Leonard Cohen when I watched Pump Up The Volume in high school and first heard “Everybody Knows”. At the time, that song tonally reminded me of The Gunslinger, but I soon learned he has another song that I more strongly associate with the series, one with a far more obvious title.

Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song

The lyrics don’t directly relate, but I’ve always felt that the imagery Cohen uses in this song is extremely reminiscent of Roland and the Dark Tower. The first line—“My friends are gone and my hair is grey”—is an obvious example, but there’s more.

“I’m standing by the window where the light is strong/Ah, they don’t let a woman kill you, not in the Tower of Song” always makes me think of Roland’s matricide.

“And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong/You see, you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song” reminds me of the voices one hears when they see the rose, and the final judgement that awaits Roland at the end of the series.

Out Of The Frying Pan

Jim Steinman & Meat Loaf

You guys, I fucking love Meat Loaf and his longtime collaborator Jim Steinman (R.I.P. to a true legend). If I get drunk enough to sing karaoke, you better believe I’m going to be belting out some eleven minute-long Meat Loaf deep cuts. I’m probably more familiar with his discography than any other artist’s, and when I finally paid attention to the lyrics of “Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)” my first thought was that Jim Steinman had to be a Constant Reader. That might be true, but of course this song was written well before The Dark Tower so any connection is completely accidental (or maybe it’s ka).

So wander down the ancient hallway
Taking the stairs only one at a time
Follow the sound of my heartbeat now
I’m in the room at the top
You’re at the end of the line
Open the door and lay down on the bed
The sun is just a ball of desire
And I wanna take you out of the frying pan…
Out of the frying pan…
Out of the frying pan…
And into the fire!

Do I really need to spell out what these lyrics bring to mind for me? There might not be a bed at the top of the Dark Tower, but almost everything else Steinman and Loaf sing (each recorded their own version) in the chorus perfectly fits the end of the series. Perhaps it’s notable that the song then repeats itself.

Daydreamin’

Lupe Fiasco

While the second verse of this song doesn’t really fit the Dark Tower aesthetic at all, the intro and the first verse do. For me, the intro calls up the image of Jake passing out beside the rose on that beautiful day in New York.

As I spy from behind my giant robot’s eyes
I keep ‘em happy cause I might fall out if he cries
Scared of heights, so I might pass out if he flies
Keep ‘em on autopilot cause I can’t drive

Meanwhile, the first verse (or at least the first half of the first verse) is oddly similar to what Roland experiences, looking through Eddie’s eyes when he first goes through the door marked “The Prisoner” in The Drawing of the Three.

As I said, none of these songs are mentioned in the Dark Tower books, and by no means are any of them actually referencing the series. These are just a few songs that never fail to make me think of King’s magnum Opus. If there are songs that do the same for you, I hope you’ll share them.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you might think this post is a cop-out, since I didn’t really discuss the details of this week’s chapters as much as I normally would. You might think this post is a little lazy. If that’s what you think, all I can tell you is that I kind of agree, but I threw my back out this weekend and was barely able to put this together so gimme a break!

Next Week’s Reading
Wolves Of The Calla:
Part Two, 5.iv-8.v

Published by Joe Rechtman

Screenwriter/watcher. Constant Reader & Dark Tower Junkie.

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