Historically, guitar-brandishing artists have defaced classic literature like teenage delinquents carving into the covers of their required-reading selections. Lou Reed's toxic Poe tribute The Raven and Blind Guardian's cheese-wizard interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion did nothing to soothe the printed page/rock rift. However, thanks to Mastodon's triumphant Moby Dick-based album Leviathan - which is as heavy and intricate as its inspiration - libraries might remove their restraining orders against modern musicians. Here are four acts that should raid the stacks.

Slayer, William Shakespeare's Macbeth: Slayer's sound remains savage, but it could use new blood lyrically, and structuring songs around harrowing historical events such as the Holocaust has proven problematic publicity-wise. Macbeth provided a cathartic outlet for another controversial master, Roman Polanski, who released his ultra-violent version soon after the Manson family murdered his wife Sharon Tate.

Too Short, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer: Critics have accused both the Oakland rapper and the Paris-based expatriate of misogyny and chauvinism. Also, both writers balance preposterously phrased sexual accounts with frank streetwise advice. Co-opting Miller's ribald rambles would earn Too Short artistic credibility, despite his probable decision to subtitle the record Da Freakiest Tale.

Screeching Weasel, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: Green Day will likely want first crack at this definitive portrait of cynical adolescence. Not only did those guys reference the lead character in a song title but they also just released an overrated concept album, meaning the time is right for a really pretentious project. However, Screeching Weasel deserves the honor because singer Ben Weasel's agoraphobic, misanthropic tendencies make him an ideal Salinger stand-in.

Black Sabbath, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray: "Iron Man" paraphrased former British poet laureate Ted Hughes, so Sabbath knows how to convert prose into metal. This album's art would juxtapose an image of a young, debauchery-engaged Ozzy Osbourne with a present-day portrait of the doddering frontman.

More by Andrew Miller


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