Music from V for Vendetta

  • Dancing in the Streets
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: William Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye (1964)
    Performed By: Martha and the Vandellas
    Notable Covers: The Grateful Dead, Van Halen, Mick Jagger & David Bowie

    This song appears in Chapter Two of Book One, when Every first arrives in the Shadow Gallery.It is an interesting choice, not only to illustrate the erradication of minorities, but also because the song is about people celebrating in public for fun, something I doubt the people of Vendetta have done in some time

  • Jerusalem
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: William Blake (1804) / Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1916)
    Performed By: various
    Notable Covers: Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1972)

    V recites the William Blake poem during during Chapter 6 of Book One. The poem's desire to see England return to a better state of being, free from harmful influences, certainly fits well with V, and its themes underscore V's impending confrontation with Lilliman.

    The poem has been set to music, most notably by Hubert Parry, although my first experience with it was hearing the version by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and that is the version I hear in my head when I read Vendetta.

  • Sympathy for the Devil
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (1968)
    Performed By: The Rolling Stones
    Notable Covers: various

    V references this song upon confronting Bishop Lilliman at the end of Chapter 7 of Book One. Like the titular character of The Rolling Stone's opus, the Devil comes in many guises: He is Lilliman and his pedophilia, Norsefire for their tyranny and genocide, and even V himself. A haunting song for a haunting scene.

  • Symphony No. 5, Op. 67, 1st Movement
  • Written/Composed by: Ludwig Van Beethoven (1807-1808)
    Performed By: various

    Perhaps the most recognizable piece of music in the Western World, the first movement to Beethoven's 5th symphony can be heard, in Chapter 8 of Book One, technically, twice. The music is first heard while Finch and Dominic review the recording of V's confrontatrion with Lilliman, but that recording was made a day prior, and shown in flashback.

    The 5th Symphony's bombastic four-note opening fits well with V's penchant for drama. As Finch points out, it is also Morse Code for the letter "V" and thus it becomes the perfect calling card, figuratively and literally.

  • This Vicious Cabaret
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: Alan Moore and David J (1983)
    Performed By: V (1998)
    Notable Covers: David J (1984)

    The signature theme to V for Vendetta. V performs this song to opens Book Two of the novel and acts as both a summation of the story so far and a foreshadowing of events to come. I spent nearly ten years trying to "hear" the music Moore provides--I have no musical training of my own--and its idocyncratic scoring frustrated everyone I asked to play it for me. In music and lyrics, it is the epitome of this novel.

    David J recorded this song in 1984 on an EP titled, appriproately, "V for Vendetta". The EP is long out of print but you can find the song, as well as the rest of the Vendetta-inspired music, on the much-easier to find David J: On Glass CD.

  • The 1812 Oveture ("1812" Overture in E Flat Major Op. 49
  • Written/Composed by: Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (1880)
    Performed By: various

    The opening salvo, literally, to Book Three; V conducts this Overture while blowing up Jordon Tower and the old post building. No doubt those explosions were V's substitute for the cannons that are traditionally fired during the piece's creshendo. Tchaikovsky' composed the piece as a tribute to the Russian victory over Napoleon. V undoubtedly feels a kinship as Norsefire, like Napoleon, seemed invincible to the rest of the world.

  • Ev'ry Time We say Goodbye
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: Cole Porter (1944)
    Performed By: Ella Fitzgerald
    Notable Covers: various

    This song appears in the 5th chapter of Book Three, just before Every asks V to show what his will is. The song, especially the heart-breaking rendition by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerlad, acts as a harbinger of deaths to come. A haunting song, and a fitting eulogy to Evey's relationship with V.

    This song was originally part of a revue Porter wrote, and the song was first sung by Nan Wynn. However, I have highlighted Ella Fitzgerald's rendition because of its status as one of the definitive recordings of this song. Given V's penchant for the classics, it is most likely the one Evey is listening to.

  • I'm Waiting for the Man
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: Lou Reed (1967)
    Performed By: The Velvet Underground
    Notable Covers: David Bowie, Bauhaus

    V quotes this song at the end of the 5th chapter of Book Three; like "Sympathy for the Devil", the song is not actually heard, but it does thematically apply: V is leaving to face Edward Finch for the first and last time, and like the song's narrator, is fully aware of what will happen when he does. Finch's obsession with V and his need to find him also parallels the narrator and his search for his dealer.

  • The Streets of London
  •     lyrics
    Written/Composed by: Ralph McTell (1969)
    Performed By: Ralph McTell
    Notable Covers: Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin

    The final song to appear on the novel was also the last song for me to notice--even though V sings it for several panels! The song appears in the 8th chapter of Book 3, as Finch makes his way down Victoria Station. The doleful song asks the listener not to despair when there's so many people worse of than them, and in a way, this is what V is trying to tell Finch--that he's not as bad off as he thinks, that he should not give up. And at this point in the novel, the people of London very much resemble the people described in McTell's song.

    That this is the final song to appear in the novel seems like an odd choice; but that's because Moore choose it because it fit the scene and wasn't thinking in terms of soundtracks and "album enders".

    The Music of Vendetta Page  --  Music Inspired by Vendetta