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Blake and Music, 2017


Jason Whittaker

William Blake has long been a favorite of a number of composers and songwriters, and when Donald Fitch published Blake Set to Music: A Bibliography of Musical Settings of the Poems and Prose of William Blake in 1990, he listed 1412 pieces that had been composed by 1988. This was then expanded by his “Blake Set to Music: Supplement 2001” in Blake 35.2 (fall 2001) and Ashanka Kumari’s “Adding to Blake Set to Music” in Blake 49.4 (spring 2016).

The original Blake Set to Music had largely concentrated on classical settings of Blake’s works; Fitch’s supplement, as well as incorporating additional classical compositions that had appeared since the end of the 1980s, also included a significant number of pop songs that had been produced earlier. Kumari continued with both classical and popular additions, and my list of entries adheres to the format established by Fitch and followed by Kumari. As Kumari’s piece concluded with 2013 releases, the entries here concentrate on those that have been released since 2013, although some earlier ones, not included by either her or Fitch, also appear below. There is one significant difference between this list and those produced by both previous authors: while they generally avoided songs that simply mentioned Blake and instead concentrated on settings of Blake’s poetry, this list also includes songs that are about Blake in some shape or form. I have avoided the substantial number of albums that make some passing—usually superficial—reference to the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, although two albums by U2 are listed because critics have observed that they are significantly, if somewhat obliquely, influenced by Blake’s poetry.


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