April 23rd was an important date in the life of Mr William Shakespeare- he died 396 years ago today, and is estimated to have been born 448 years ago today as a record of his baptism was dated April 26th 1564 though the actual date of his birth is unknown.
To celebrate this date in a slightly different way, I thought I would share with you a playlist of my Top 5 Shakespeare Inspired Songs. And yes, it’s a little dominated by Romeo and Juliet but that’s because it’s cool, okay?
1. Dire Straits- Romeo and Juliet
This is my absolute favourite Shakespeare inspired song, and with lines like “You promised me everything, you promised me thick and thin. Now you just say, “Oh Romeo, yeah, y’know I used to have a scene with him,” how could I not? A bit of a bittersweet one for me because it reminds me of a good friend who is no longer in my life.
MC Lars- Hey There Ophelia
If you haven’t experience MC Lars yet, you need to check him out of Spotify or Facebook then buy his albums. So many of his songs are funny, clever takes on classic literature, but this is one of my favourites. An emo retelling of Hamlet, this is brilliant example of textual transformation but with a damn catchy chorus. I just love the end:
“If you’re ever up in Denmark on a moonlit night
You’ll hear Ophelia’s sad song when the full moon’s bright
Baby I’m sorry I messed up, good night my sweet princess
May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” –MC Lars
Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, it depends whether I’m after a tragedy or comedy but I just can’t get enough of B+B’s love hate relationship. I also love Hey Nonny Nonny. I especially enjoy singing it to the tune I learned in the Kenneth Brannagh version. Quoting almost directly from the play in places, Mumford and Sons have created their own eerie take with this song which to me follows some of Claudio’s character progression.
Taylor Swift- Love Story
Okay, so Taylor may have changed the story a little bit in this song? But who cares?! I studied this play through school and university, taught it to numerous classes when I was teaching and have seen it performed countless times. And I still hold out hope that fate will let the star-crossed lovers wriggle through her net.
We The Kings – Check Yes Juliet
If Romeo had ever been in a power pop band… okay, it’s a little more tenuous than the others, but don’t let that bother you. Just turn it up, jump around the bedroom singing, “Forever we’ll beeeeeeeeeee, you and me.” Try it. You’ll like it.
What are your favourite Shakespeare inspired songs? I’ll add them to my playlist, cos I’m cool like that…