UPDATED: Stephen King's Five Best Rock and Roll References

Categories: Get Lit

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Stephen King and Meat Puppets bassist Danny Dirtbag
UPDATED (Friday, 11:50 a.m.) to correct the ID in the top photo.

This past week saw the release of Stephen King's latest short novel of hard-boiled crime fiction called Joyland, by my count his 70th overall, not counting reprints and compilations. What fuels output like that? By King's own admission, at one point it was cocaine; nowadays it's just nicotine and caffeine. But he also consumes a steady diet of rock and roll music spanning the genre's beginnings to today's young bucks.

With the release of Joyland, I decided to look back at some of King's best rock references and fixations throughout his legendary bibliography, and even his best-forgotten foray into directing films.

5. Pet Sematary
King's Pet Sematary featured one of his darkest plot twists and one of his most enduring film adaptations due to its scenes that teeter between goofy and legitimately creepy. It was also one of the only films whose script King personally wrote.

One element he decided to carry over from the novel was a Ramones motif. The novel quotes from "Blitzkrieg Bop," and the film plays "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" in a particularly tragic scene. The band also recorded a theme song for the film, "Pet Sematary," which played over the credits and became one of their biggest late-career hits.


4. Lisey's Story
Though contains a minor reference, 2006's Lisey's Story is included here just because of how cool it is that King included it. While describing "so-called smart bars" where hipsters inhabit, King alludes to the fact that they are the kind of places with "Bright Eyes on the jukebox instead of My Chemical Romance."

Just in case you thought King might not keep up with rock as he gets on in years, he throws in a reference like that to keep you on your toes. Not to mention that in 2008 he listed his 20 favorite songs to listen to while working and included Ryan Adams, Wilco and Billy Bragg, and LCD Soundsystem.


3. Christine
King's Christine is about three things: a haunted car, a love triangle between three all-American teenagers, and 1950s rock and roll. Each chapter of the novel begins with a lyric from a '50s rock song about cars, a ubiquitous lyrical subject of the era, and its plot roughly mirrors a typical "car crash song"; though with a lot more supernatural stuff included.

Ultimately, Christine can be read as a tribute of sorts to not only the era itself but the music of the era. King grew up in that time and no doubt absorbed a great deal of that early rock into his psyche, which is evident all over the novel.



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14 comments
mattdhall
mattdhall

The Stand had a lot of Rock and Roll quotes in it, I think a few from Blue Oyster Cult.

eze_140
eze_140

Hey jude, Velcro fly, someone saved my life tonight, paint it black

lachanna2010
lachanna2010

the "God Drums" of Lud in the Dark Tower Series...drum track from a ZZ Top song...Velcro Fly I think?

damian.burford
damian.burford

Don't forget "Somebody Saved My Life Tonight" from The Dark Tower books! I know Elton John isn't considered Rock N Roll so much anymore, but in the 70's he was a king of RNR.

Damon Allen
Damon Allen

All good buddy, thanks for sharing article. Good read.

Corey Deiterman
Corey Deiterman

Yep, my bad, it's Danny Dirtbag, the bassist for the Meat Puppets. This is proof I know way more about Stephen King than I do about the Meat Puppets. Whether that's a good or bad thing, I don't know.

Smedley
Smedley

There's a reference to "Hey Jude" in The Gunslinger.

Damon Allen
Damon Allen

re: photo thats not Tesco Vee... jus sayin. :)

clockworktomato
clockworktomato

@Corey Deiterman Danny Dirtbag is the bassist for the Meat*men.*

The bassist for the Meat Puppets is Cris Kirkwood.


Great article, though! 

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