The Literary City

Across The Universe With Douglas Adams And Bruce Lee Mani

February 09, 2022 Explocity Podcasts Season 1 Episode 7
The Literary City
Across The Universe With Douglas Adams And Bruce Lee Mani
Show Notes Chapter Markers

How many of us stop to consider how much rock music owes to literature? 

Many of rock or folk lyricists of the 60s and 70s (and into the later years) were very well read. Many were students of English literature.

Here are a few examples.

Jim Morrison was a published poet. Chris Martin of Coldplay mastered Greek and Latin, Sterling Morrison, a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature, Rivers Cuomo graduated from Harvard University in English, Jeff Schroeder, Ph.D in Comparative Literature at UCLA.

A couple of honourable mentions:

Brian May of Queen, Ph.D. in Astrophysics,  Art Garfunkel a master’s in Math, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine graduated from Harvard in Political Science.

And then there were songs inspired by Literature:

Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush based on the book by Emily Bronte. Pigs by Pink Floyd was inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 as was Testify by Rage Against The Machine. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane was a shout out, obviously, to Alice in Wonderland. Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones was inspired by Bulgakov’s Master And Margarita and also by Baudelaire’s World by Rosemary Lloyd. Metallica’s For Whom The Bell Tolls is, of course, straight from Ernest Hemingway. And India’s mega band of the 70s, The Human Bondage got its name from the title of a Somerset Maugham book.

Sort of puts paid to the whole under-educated, unwashed, drug-taking bad boys of rock. (Well, at least not the under-educated part evidently.)

Our guest today on The Literary City is Bruce Lee Mani. He is frontman of the famous Indian rock band, Thermal And A Quarter and he runs the reputable music school Taaqademy.

We talk about how his lifelong interest in words and literature shaped his songwriting.

The piece of music you hear coming into the segment is Bruce Lee Mani, singing all the vocal parts, a cappella, of his songs, Tomorrow. At the end of the episode, another treat, Bruce performing The Kindness Of Strangers in a songwriter showcase. Here's the links:

Tomorrow: The Kindness of Strangers: Galatiqua. :

Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in the segment titled "What's That Word?", or titled in whichever way Ramjee  screws up the title, to peel back the meaning of the phrase "rock n roll", the central theme of the episode.

If you have a word or phrase you would like to explore, join us live on the show. Reach us by mail: or simply,
Or, Facebook:
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If your word or phrase is selected, we'll call you.

Join our Facebook group, Bangalore Literary Society. It does not matter if you are not in Bangalore. This group is for anyone interested in language and words.

The Literary City encourages you to give to those children who struggle to get an education.  We ask you to contribute whatever you can to The Association of People with Disability. The link to donate is: Visit their site and take a look at the wonderful work they do and find it in your heart to, well, teach a child to fish.

What's That Word - ROCK