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It's no wonder 'Catcher' has long been a popular muse for songwriters. Accordingly, we honor the late, great J.D. Salinger with 10 songs that give a nod to the reclusive writer and his classic book.
This song, from the long-delayed 'Chinese Democracy' album, alludes to Mark David Chapman, who was obsessed with 'The Catcher in the Rye' when he killed John Lennon. Years before the song was released, Queen guitarist Brian May recorded a part for the tune, but it was later cut, leading to the inevitable question: Who would turn down a chance to have Brian May play guitar on their song?
'6 Minutes,' Jonas Brothers (2006)
Wait a second -- the Jonas Brothers writing about Holden Caulfield? Their chipper Disney image doesn't seem to fit. Of course, their 'Catcher' reference is more about a guy pining for a girl than teen rebellion. They sing, "Sometimes I feel like 'The Catcher in the Rye"/Sometimes I wish I could catch her eye." Awwww.
'Get It Right,' The Offspring (1993)
Before they became a household name, this punk-metal band wrote a song influenced by Caulfield's disillusionment. "Like Holden Caulfield I tell myself there's got to be a better way/Then I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, dream of brighter days." For the Offspring, brighter days came with their next album, which sold a million copies.
Watch the Offspring Perform 'Get It Right'
'Rollerskate Skinny,' Old 97's (2001)
OK, follow along: Frontman Rhett Miller once went out on a date with actress Winona Ryder, whose favorite book is 'The Catcher in the Rye,' which includes a line with the description "rollerskate skinny." So when Rhett wrote a song about Rider, he decided to name it 'Rollerskate Skinny,' which also happens to be the name of an Irish band, but we won't get into that. Miller, who once had a creative writing scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College, could certainly appreciate an obscure literary title like this.
'Shadrach,' Beastie Boys (1989)
The line "I got more stories than J.D. Salinger" is a little ironic given that Salinger didn't publish any stories the last 45 years of his life. But, hey -- maybe now we'll discover that he was writing all along. This song features a host of pop culture references, citing everything from the Bible to Mad magazine, Goodyear tires to Jerry Falwell.
Watch the Beastie Boys Perform 'Shadrach'
'Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie,' Belle & Sebastian
These cerebral indie rockers met while in college, so it's no surprise they would write a story about reading. Here the song's main character, a mousy girl, likes books. "Wouldn't you like to get away?" the song asks. "Give yourself up to the allure of 'Catcher in the Rye.'" Can a book about an alienated, frustrated teen be described as alluring?
'Who Wrote Holden Caulfield,' Green Day (1992)
Billie Joe Armstrong, a high school dropout, deals with his empathy for the 'Catcher' protagonist in this song, which speaks of lack of motivation and frustration. Armstrong didn't like the book when he had to read it in high school but came to appreciate it as a punk-rocking adult.
'We Didn't Start the Fire,' Billy Joel (1990)
When he turned 40, Joel said he needed to take stock of his life, so he wrote out a laundry list of things that had occurred during his lifetime, plus some of the memorable names and titles in pop culture. Salinger's book is mentioned early on: "Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, 'The King and I,' 'The Catcher in the Rye.'" Feel free to Google the ones you don't know.
'3 Warning Shots,' Rick Springfield (2008)
The normally poppy Springfield addresses Lennon's assassin -- "Holden Caulfield's stable boy" -- in an angry letter during which he fantasizes about killing the killer. Springfield, who covered Lennon's 'Imagine' on a previous album, is, naturally, a big Beatles fan. But, really, Rick: Let's let the parole board decide what to do with Chapman, OK?
'Good Year,' The Refreshments (1997)
We know at least one member of the band was an avid book reader. After the group split, bassist Art Edwards earned an MFA in writing and penned two novels. In this song, about a relationship gone sour, a couple initially shares the things they love, including a copy of 'Abbey Road' and 'The Catcher in the Rye.'