Weekend Playlist: Songs Inspired by William Gibson

Welcome back to the Weekend Playlist!

This week, we’re going to take a look at something fairly specific: songs inspired by William Gibson’s various works. While compiling my master list, I was surprised at the number of artists who have been specifically inspired by him. In retrospect, it’s an easy thing to see: Gibson’s vision is far reaching, and his formative stories that deal with cyberpunk have many implications in a number of fields.

BONUS: Not all these songs are available in Spotify, but the ones that are can be listed to via this songlist: Songs Inspired by William Gibson

“Pattern Recognition” by Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth has at least two songs inspired by Gibson’s works. This song, released in 2004, was named for his 2003 novel by the same name. The lyrics touch on a bit of the feel of the story, although I thought the book was a bit more reserved.

“Neuromancer” by Billy Idol

When it comes to cyberpunk, electronic-based music and Gibson are something that seem destined to intersect. A direct influence from Gibson’s work, the track hails from an album titled Cyberpunk. Idol was personally interested in technology, and was an early example of the use of computers in the creation of music.

“The Sprawl” by Sonic Youth

The Sprawl is a feature from a number of Gibson’s novels, such as Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, in addition to several short stories. This song, also by the Sonic Youth, touches on some counter-culture and counter-commercial themes. It’s a bit repetitive, but it’s a fun song.

“Mirrorshades” by Information Society

With the exception of Billy Idol’s song, “Mirrorshades” (inspired by Neuromancer), this feels like the most cyberpunk-ish, but with an awesome 1980s vibe that other songs really can’t replicate. It’s a fun song, and of all the ones on my list, it really is my favorite.

“Count Zero” by Stuart Hamm
“Black Ice” by Stuart Hamm
“Kings of Sleep” by Stuart Hamm

These bass-heavy songs by Stuart Hamm are all off of the album Kings of Sleep, and are all inspired from numerous works from Gibson’s bibliography. They’re fun tracks to listen to, and are all quite different from some of the other songs that have gone to similar sources for inspiration.

“Hanging Out With Halo Jones” by Transvision Vamp

I really like the sound of this song: it certainly feels a bit cyberpunkish, and a couple of nods to Neuromancer can be found in the lyrics. The title character, Halo Jones, isn’t a Gibson creation, but is from British comic titled 2000 AD.

“Run Straight Down” by Warren Zevon

This track, off of Zevon’s cyberpunk concept album Transverse City has been linked to the works of Gibson, as well as other sources, such as the film Blade Runner. I like the dark atmosphere to it, and the brooding lyrics.

6 thoughts on “Weekend Playlist: Songs Inspired by William Gibson”

  1. Oh there’s so much more…

    For example, Dominic Woosey’s fine ambient/techno album “Straylight” – he also recorded as Case.

    Robert Leiner’s album as Source, “Organized Noise” has a good track called “Neuromancer”. On the same label, Outlander’s “Aural Scent’ EP had studio and live versions of “Fragments of a Hologram Rose”. 

    That story title was also used for an album by German noise band Jormungand, and a song by German jazz/techno folks Werner Ludi and Burhan Ocal (their album also includes “Lisa Mona Overdrive” (sic)).

    Shake Inc’s minor Belgian techno hit was “Mona Lisa OD” 

    There was a Sheffield, UK “intelligent techno” duo Count Zero.

    German industrialists MoonSon recorded “Red Star, Winter Orbit”.

    The Playboy Revolutionary had a drum’n’bass single containing the tracks “The Difference Engine” and “Burning Chrome”. Also see German act Neuromancer’s pounding EP “Journey into Cyberspace”

    And there are/were at least six other acts called Neuromancer, nine others called Count Zero, four called Straylight, five called Mona Lisa Overdrive, three The Difference Engines, two called Burning Chrome, two Johnny Mnemonics… and one New Rose Hotel.

    And finally, the Italian punk band A-10 released an album “Burnin’ Chrome”, with the track ‘Hologram Rose’. 

    (Check ‘em all out, if you will, on Discogs.com)

     

  2. My favorite Gibsonian-inspired music is found on the abridged audiobook that he narrated. Not only do you get Gibson doing all the voices (altered at times), but there’s some fantastic stuff in the background. Alas that he did not do the entire unabridged book (and the other books and stories in the “Sprawl” sequence) as well.

  3. Also see Psykosonik, whose self-titled 1993 album was riddled with references to Gibson’s work, and their 1995 album Unlearn, which made many allusions in title, but was mostly instrumental.  I still listen to these albums regulaly, which makes me an even bigger geek than I thought I was. ;)

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