Crossover Appeal

Book Titles That Would Make Great Band Names

I’m not really a music person. Visual art? Yep. Food? Certainly. Books? Abso-fucking-lutely. But music…I don’t know, but it’s never been a huge part of my life. Definitely background music more than soundtrack, if that makes sense. But, at the same time and a bit awkwardly, I’ve always loved brainstorming band names. When I was in high school, a dear friend started a music promotion group, and I spent hours and hours coming up with a list of names for it, which has, unfortunately, been lost in the sands of time (or, more precisely, the toxic drifts that made up my room as a teenager).

Since then, I’ve sublimated this love into another, related one: coming up with titles for papers, articles, dissertations, books. Titling something is like a small, epic moment of poetry. It’s a chance not only to articulate the content of a book but, more importantly—and this is where band-naming is so similar—to communicate its mood, a near-ineffable sense of its style and voice. You may not know exactly how, but you know War & Peace and A Visit from the Goon Squad are going to be different, as are The Mountain Goats and Jefferson Starship. (This is, I think, part of the source of Kit’s frustration with the 4 types of book titles she’s totally over: in being so derivative, predictable, and bland, the titles don’t actually communicate any sense of their books’ particular, peculiar moods.)

The connections between these two practices—band-naming and book-titling—occurred to me not long ago, and it inspired me to do a circuit of my apartment. Sticking just to books I had on shelves (not digging into the boxes of books packed away in the closets, because seriously, what do you want from me?), I mined those shelves for book titles that would make awesome, interesting, or funny band names. I also stuck to nonfiction, since that limitation made things more fun. I’ve marked a few with ideas about what kind of band it would work perfectly for, but I’m open to other ideas. Check it out:

  • Reluctant Capitalists
  • Power Trip
  • Swimming in Circles
  • Maps & Legends
  • The Whites of Their Eyes
  • Anxious Intellects (Perfect for a band fronted by former graduate students.)
  • Buda’s Wagon
  • Interior States (Searching, autobiographical/fantasmic folk group, a la The Mountain Goats.)
  • Epic Encounters
  • American Vertigo (Political pop-punk, naturally.)
  • Free for All
  • American Pests (More political pop-punk, naturally.)
  • Science in Action
  • Sideshow U.S.A. (Sarcastically patriotic death metal, maybe?)
  • Fun Home
  • River of Shadows
  • How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed (A sister band for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.)
  • Our Own Snug Fireside
  • Split-Second Persuasion (Great for a really weird Temptations cover-band, maybe?)
  • Last Harvest (One of those hyper-political hardcore groups who talk for 5 minutes before a 2-minute song.)
  • Turning the Century
  • Hark! A Vagrant (Following the mid-title-punctuation trail that Panic! At the Disco blazed.)
  • Arts of Deception
  • Concrete Planet
  • The Haunted
  • Electric Sounds (An ironic name for an acoustic folk duo?)
  • Blood, Bones & Butter
  • Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs (Great for a cerebral riot grrl group.)
  • Bucolic Plague
  • Republic of Shade

Which one’s your favorite, and what kind of band would it be perfect for?

About

Derek Attig writes and teaches about book culture, technology, and history. In addition to writing a book about bookmobiles in American life, he blogs at Bookmobility.org. Follow Derek on Twitter: @bookmobility