Since The Beatles burst onto the scene in the early 1960s, Liverpool’s finest sons made an indelible imprint on music, culture and society. Contemporary culture without the advent of The Beatles would be like the universe without the big bang; it simply wouldn’t exist.
What The Beatles did for modern music was to set a precedent for all else to follow. Their exploration of the theory of the concept album, pioneering recording techniques, forward-thinking musicianship and off-stage antics cemented them as the world’s biggest band, the first truly “global” rockstars. They spearheaded the groundswell of the ‘British Invasion’ of American music in the mid-1960s and kicked off the first true “hysterical” pop culture phenomenon, ‘Beatlemania’.
Their influence has been felt so heavily that, for a long time, one could easily classify them as your favourite artist’s favourite artist. Whilst their impact may be waning today, due to music’s futuristic, technological posture, their influence still exists in some form or another. Many of the most iconic artists spanning from 1970 onwards would cite The Beatles as a key inspiration; Kurt Cobain, Black, Sabbath, Josh Homme, Pink Floyd, the list is endless.
The Beatles had such an impact it was not just related to music. Fashion, drug culture, countercultural ideology and even Charles Manson‘s murderous ‘family’ were all influenced by the works of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
The band’s individual lives and careers have been deemed so critical that there has, of course, been an endless quantity of literary discourse penned on their relatively brief ten-year existence. In fact, this point actually speaks to the sheer impact the band had as they were only together from 1960 to 1970 and famously stopped touring in 1966.
This impact has not been forgotten by their hometown. Liverpool Hope University offers a Master’s degree in ‘The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’, and in 2021, the University of Liverpool announced ‘The Beatles: Music Industry and Heritage’ master’s course, which examines the group’s influence on popular music and culture. It unpicks how the band’s influence was replicated in different places, industries and contexts around the world.
There can be no surprise, then, that The Beatles’ songs have also lent their names to novels. These are not books about the bans specifically, but works of fiction that have taken their names from the names of the band’s tracks, as the source material fits. There are so many; we’ve skimmed it down to 40.
The list features the likes of Japanese master of magic-realism, Haruki Murakami, and his 1987 masterpiece, Norwegian Wood, which takes its title from The Beatles track of the same name, a standout from their 1965 outing Rubber Soul. Murakami’s choice of title is apt for the subject matter, as it recounts the lives of student protestors and their burgeoning sexuality in late ’60s Tokyo.
Another 1987 classic that makes it onto the list is Stephen King’s psychological horror, Misery. Allegedly, the book takes its name from the 1963 Beatles classic of the same name. In fact, Stephen King is such a fan of The Beatles that their songs make appearances in a wide range of his works.
Aside from the two aforementioned modern literary masters, the list also contains lesser-known riffs on Beatles titles. Aleksander Hemon’s 2002 novel Nowhere Man, which explores the fall of the Soviet Union using multiple narrators, uses The Beatles’ song for great effect. It perfectly captures the feelings of displacement felt by Bosnian protagonist Jozef Pronek, a refugee who has found himself in Chicago after being driven from his homeland following the collapse of Communism and the horrors that ensued.
There are plenty of other interesting entries on the list as well. These range from ‘The Sun King’, David Ignatius’ modern reworking of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 American classic, The Great Gatsby, to Cecilia Ahern’s 2004 romantic novel, PS, I Love You.
Given that The Beatles gave us such a wide variety of music, it comes a little surprise that their songs have inspired a wide variety of titles. We’re sure there’s something in it for everyone.
40 Novels with titles inspired by Beatles songs
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- All You Need is Love by Marie Force
- Come Together by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees
- Dear Prudence by Amanda Grieme
- I Want to Hold Your Hand by Stephanie Blackburn
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Deborah Grabien
- Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth
- Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
- A Day in the Life by Robert Greenfield
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by Prodromos E. Atlamazoglou
- Penny Lane by Jaci Byrne
- Baby, You’re a Rich Man by Christopher Bundy
- Paperback Writer by Richard Taylor
- Your Mother Should Know by Paul Alan Fahey
- I Am the Walrus by Nabil Shaban
- Happiness is a Warm Gun by Josh Covington
- Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon
- Day Tripper by K.L. Taylor
- The Sun King by David Ignatius
- Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by Andy Rivers
- Girl by Blake Nelson
- Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
- Misery by Stephen King
- The End by G. Michael Hopf
- Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
- Ticket To Ride by Ed Gorman
- She Loves You by Elaine Segal
- Don’t Pass Me By by Julie McGowan
- I Want You by Lisa Hanawalt
- The Night Before by Lisa Jackson
- Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff
- From Me to You by Anthony France
- Helter Skelter by Bryan Cassiday
- Rain by V.C. Andrews
- The Long and Winding Road by Jeffrey Hoy
- All Things Must Pass by Phyllis Zimmerman
- Honey Pie by Donna Kauffman
- The Inner Light by Henry Porada
- P.S., I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
- I Feel Fine by Richard Marshall
Listen to a playlist of all the aforementioned tracks, below.