If you can’t tell from the header photo or the witty title, this post is for a special kind of bookworm, today. This post is for everyone who’s heard of closing the goddamn door. This post is for those of us who’s sexual awakening happened when we first listened to “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.” This post is for Panic! At the Disco fans.
Lots of musicians draw clever influences from literary sources, and when Ryan Ross penned the first P!ATD album, he did the most. His obsession with Chuck Palahniuk knew no bounds. Most of this list are Chuck P selections, but it’s interesting to see where the ideas for their long-as-heck song titles and strange lyrics hail from.
Below is a bookish playlist of all the literary icons that have inspired the work of Panic! At the Disco. In order to expand the list beyond Chuck Palahniuk (because, seriously, did Ryan Ross read anything else?), there’s one extra selection from a later album thrown in as well.
In honor of guyliner, emo weddings, and the year when Fall Out Boy ruled the world, I present to you A Book Club You Can’t Sweat Out.
In case you never noticed, this nihilist string of words can’t be found anywhere in the lyrics of this song. Ryan Ross paraphrased it straight from the pages of Survivor. In the novel (which is one of my personal all-time favorites), Tender Branson is a subdued member of the Creedish Death Cult. For years, the cult trained their members to be obedient butlers, until one day, they all killed themselves in a mass suicide pact, except for Tender. As the only living member, he writes an autobiography that launches him into exuberant, bright-lights stardom and wealth. This is a very strange book about the very strange way the world relishes lunacy.
As listed on Goodreads, Shampoo Planet follows the story of a corporate youth rejecting the footsteps of his hippie mother.
Tyler Johnson is a 20-year-old MTV child. Once a baby raised in a hippie commune, he is now an ambitious Reagan youth dreaming of a career with the corporation whose offices his mother once firebombed.
The title of the second track of Panic’s iconic album is another paraphrasing. The exact line is:
Extremely torrid tunage from London beckoned songs about money written by machines.
Good old Chuck P. strikes again! Anecdote: this book is my current read at this very moment, and it was the book that inspired the whole bookish playlist! If you’re familiar with the song, you’ll remember the lyrics that are repeated several times throughout:
Just for the record, the weather today is slightly sarcastic with a good chance of:
A. Indifference or
B. Disinterest in what the critics say
This line felt so clever and playful when I was 11 years old and crushing hard on Brendon Urie. Little did I know that it was borrowed from literature! While this line isn’t directly from Diary, similar lines are used throughout the book in slightly varying forms, like “just for the record, the weather today is partly suspicious with chances of betrayal,” and “just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.”
This was my favorite song. I’m not even exaggerating when I say I listened to it every night for two years. The Song is almost entirely based off of Palahniuk’s novel Invisible Monsters. A model who has everything is horribly disfigured in an accident, and must dig deep to reinvent herself. The book opens with a shooting, which is reflected in Ross’s lyrics: “the walls line the bullet holes.” When, in the book, Palahniuk uses the frenetic pose of a photographer yelling directions at the model, Ross mirrors this when he writes the energetic line “give me envy, give me malice, give me your attention.” Also, there is a transgender woman in the novel who’s favorite color of makeup is aubergine, hence the P!ATD lyrics “boys will be boys hiding in estrogen and wearing aubergine dreams.” Whoa. This song is one heck of a literary reference.
Okay. So. Warning: this one is just a rumor/fan theory/wishful thinking. The iconic novel about an underground fighting ring and one stark-raving mad protagonist is not the inspiration for this song, but a lot of fans wish it was. Camisado is actually about Ryan Ross’s alcoholic father, but lots of listeners have drawn similarities between the song’s comments like “can’t take the kid from the fight, take the fight from the kid.” Like I said, it’s a reach, but hey, it’s also a great novel, so rumor or not, it makes the list.
As we finally make our way out of the Palahniuk fever dream that is A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, I wanted to include an honorable mention from a later album. For this album, Brendon Urie chose to title the entire collection of songs with a literary reference. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas is a story about Las Vegas debauchery, which is inherently what Urie’s fourth album honors, especially with Las Vegas being their home town. The phrase “too weird to live, too rare to die” was originally coined by Hunter S. Thompson in his chaotic, drug-induced novel.
Are you a Panic! At the Disco fan? Have you read these books? Do you want to see more bookish playlists of songs inspired by the books you know and love? Let me know in the comments below!