"Classics Rock! is the best of both worlds--music and books."
-- CNBC.com "Bullish on Books" blog

Friday, June 5, 2009

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?/Green Day

As J.D. Salinger files a lawsuit to stop publication of 60 Years Later, an unauthorized sequel to his classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, we thought we'd revisit a few songs inspired by the original that somehow dodged the Salinger litigation bullet.

Green Day's "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?" from their 1992 album Kerplunk is named for the novel's protagonist. Apparently the book is a favorite of the band's lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong.

In answer to Green Day's query, Screeching Weasel released I Wrote Holden Caulfield on their 1994 album How to Make Enemies and Irritate People. The song includes the suit-provoking lines: I wonder if you'll ever come to realize what I always knew/I wrote Holden Caulfield and so did you.

The definitive statement on the question of authorship comes from the Shy Guys 2006 album Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, with their song J.D. Salinger Wrote Holden Caulfield.

The Guns 'N' Roses song "The Catcher in the Rye" appears on their Chinese Democracy album from 2008. It seems to have as much to do with John Lennon's murder as with Salinger's novel--Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, had a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in his possession when he was apprehended.

William Holden Caulfield, from Too Much Joy's 2005 album From All of Us to Both of You, includes the lyrics: I'm afraid of people who like Catcher in the Rye/Yeah I like it too but someone tell me why/People he'd despise say I feel like that guy.

Bodi Bill expresses a sentiment we can all get behind in their song I Like Holden Caulfield.

There are also songs called Holden Caulfield from a variety of artists, including Tom Freund, Stefan Couture and the Campfire Orchestra, Harris Eisenstadt, Paul Kotheimer, and the Green Pajamas.

Songs with the title Catcher in the Rye have been recorded by a number of artists as well.


  1. I always thought the line "Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial" from Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" reminded me of a remark Caulfield made in the book

  2. Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution and later Streetlight Manifesto (same singer) have a song called "Here's to Life!" that talks about JD & Holden. Also, the Lawrence Arms have a song, "The Disaster March."

  3. nobody: I couldn't find any evidence that the line from "Visions of Johanna" is related to CITR--this may be original to Dylan.

    rpophessagr: Thanks for the additional songs--I'll hang on to them for the next time Salinger sues somebody.

  4. RIP JD Salinger. Music Videos Inspired by the Author: