García Iborra and de Jódar Bonilla (40) write that in the liner notes of his 1996 compilation I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, classic rocker Warren Zevon acknowledges having been inspired by “Entropy.” Links: allmusic.com | discogs.com
Mimi and Richard Fariña: “V.” from Celebrations For A Grey Day (1965) ♥
In the liner notes of Celebrations For A Grey Day, Richard Fariña writes: “Call it an East-West dream song in the Underground Mode for Tom Pynchon and Benny Profane. The literary listener will no doubt find clues to the geographical coordinates of Vheissu, the material antecedents of the younger Stencil, and a three dimensional counter-part of Botticelli’s Venus on the half shell. May they hang again on a western wall.” Pynchon was Fariña’s friend, best man, and pallbearer. Gravity’s Rainbow is dedicated to Fariña and Pynchon wrote an endorsement and an introduction to the 1983 issue of his novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. It can be argued that Fariña is also one of the people Tyrone Slothrop is based on. Listen to the song on Youtube.
Soft Machine: “Esther’s Nose Job” from Triple Echo (1970/1988) ♥
A reference to Esther’s nasal surgery in chapter 4. The song that is up to 15 minutes in length, sometimes made up of two parts, was also released on Live at the Proms 1970 (1988), as a bonus track on the 2007 CD reissue of Third, on a 2014 four-CD set Live in 1970, and on a number of other Soft Machine albums. See Moore 56–57. Listen to the song on Youtube.
The Insect Trust: “The Eyes of a New York Woman” from Hoboken Saturday Night (1970) ♥
The lyrics of this pretty little tune are verbatim from the song of the same title (V. 141). García Iborra and de Jódar Bonilla write that “Pynchon was displeased with the band and threatened with legal actions if the band did not withdraw the album. After some negotiations the band agreed to stop its performance live and Pynchon stopped legal actions” (40). I have not been able to trace this story to its origins, but Mike Weaver provided me these two links by Ed Ward (in one of which he erroneously attributes the lyrics to The Crying of Lot 49): NPR | furious.com. See also Daw 46–47. Links: allmusic.com | discogs.com | Youtube
Benny Profane: Where is Pig? (1986)
The English band Benny Profane, active 1985–90, borrowed their name and the title of their 12” vinyl Where is Pig? from Pynchon. Benny Profane is also credited as the writer and producer of the songs (among which “Vain Profane”) and as one of the graphic designers of the cover. Listen to “Vain Profane” on Groovesharks.
Ed Hall: “Rachel Hourglass” and “Roger Mexico” from Gloryhole (1991)
The indie band from Austin, Texas, dedicated a song each to two of Pynchon’s characters: Rachel Owlglass from V. and Roger Mexico from Gravity’s Rainbow. Links: allmusic.com | Youtube: “Rachel Hourglass”, “Roger Mexico”
Tim Ware: “She Hangs on the Western Wall” (mid-1990s) ♥
This website’s own Tim Ware recorded some music inspired by Pynchon. One is a reference to V. Link: timware.com
Favorite Color: “V. in Love” from Color Out of Space (1996)
The lyrics, credited to Pynchon, are not from chapter fourteen by that title but those of “The Eyes of a New York Woman” (chapter six, 141). The band is named after a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, and another tune on this record is entitled “Valis,” a reference to a novel by Philip K. Dick. Link: allmusic.com
Time in Malta
The San Francisco hardcore band, active 1997–2004, apparently got their name from V. to which the lead singer turned after giving up on Gravity’s Rainbow (read here). Links: allmusic.com | discogs.com
There was an experimental rock band from the American South, Pynchon fans apparently, that got their name from the bar in V. Band member Dead Joe contributed a text to themodernword.com.
The Whole Sick Crew
Another V.-named band, this time Irish-style. They have one track, “Honest Sailor,” on a compilation. They also released a demo-CD that is available on Youtube. Other tracks reminiscent of Pynchon, at least by title, include “Girl at Every Port” and “The Vomits,” possibly a reference to Vineland’s Billy Barf and the Vomitones
Thrice: Vheissu (2005)
The album title is a reference to the mythical land of Vheissu. Novelist Dave Eggers is co-credited for the cover artwork. Links: Wikipedia | last.fm | discogs.com | allmusic.com | Youtube
Matt Pavolka: “Vheissu” from Something People Can Use (2008)
Another Vheissu reference, this time in the jazz idiom. It also appears on Pavolka’s 2014 album The Horns Band. Links: discogs.com | allmusic.com
Mike Cooper: Spirit Songs – The Pynchon Project ♥
For a number of years, British blues guitarist Mike Cooper has cut up parts of V. and Gravity’s Rainbow and turned them into music. Read his statement on his website and watch him perform on Youtube.
L.A.-based Tiger Army released an album (their fifth) entitled V ••• – in 2016. Although the singer Nick 13 cites World War II and paranoia as inspiration in an interview and reviewer Hal Horowitz compares their music to a great number of artists Pynchon mentions too, there is no indication that the album was inspired by the novel. Other albums with the title V where a Pynchon connection could not be verified include those recorded by the metal bands St. Vitus (1990), Spock’s Beard (2000, their fifth), Centvrion (2015, their fifth), and The Flight of Sleipnir (2014), as well as surf rock band Wavves (2015, their fifth).
A Laserdisc Best of B.J. Thomas compilation includes a song with the title “The Eyes of a New York Woman,” credited to Thomas Pynchon. The song exists but the credit is likely the product of sloppy work on a not properly licensed collection (or the doings of a Pynchon fan) as this compilation does not appear on the official B. J. Thomas website and the song is usually credited to Mark James or B. J. Thomas. Still, Thomas could be a model for the type of torch song anthology for male vocalists Zoyd Wheeler fantasizes about as he has recorded at least one of the songs Zoyd had in mind, “Since I Fell for You” (Vineland 36). Other oldies mentioned in Vineland Thomas has published on his many compilation albums include “So Lonesome I Could Cry” (6) and a number of pop Christmas tunes.