A band after my own heart, they also drew a lot of inspiration (lyrically and visually) from movies, new and old, classic and not-so-classic. Sure, many artists have occasionally found inspiration on the silver screen, but seldom with the sincerity of Iron Maiden, who always seem to have a deep fondness for the subjects they choose to write about. The following list is by-no-means comprehensive, nor are all of these songs necessarily great (in fact, a few of them suck), but they are the ones most-obviously inspired by specific films.
“Children of the Damned” (from the album The Number of the Beast) - This song is based on the 1964 British horror film of the same name, a sequel to the far-superior Village of the Damned. Lyrically, the song just as effectively tells the story of the first film, but somehow, damned 'children' sounds a lot more metal than a damned 'village.'
“The Number of the Beast” (from the album The Number of the Beast) - This is arguably Maiden’s signature song, and in the 80s, made controversial by conservative idiots who never bothered to actually read the lyrics. Songwriter Steve Harris was inspired to write it after having a nightmare from watching Damien: Omen II. Unofficially, this also makes Harris the only guy on Earth who was ever scared by Omen II. The song draws equal inspiration from Robert Burns' poem, "Tam O' Shanter."
|"How 'bout YOU 'Run to the Hills'."|
“Caught Somewhere in Time” (from the album Somewhere in Time) - Maiden’s penchant for science fiction & fantasy became more prominent as their career progressed, most notably with their sixth album. In addition to the detailed Blade Runner-inspired artwork of the cover (one reason I still truly miss LPs), half the songs deal with otherworldly subjects. The woefully-underrated title track was inspired by the 1979 fantasy film of the same name, Time After Time, starring Malcolm McDowell.
“Man on the Edge” (from the album The X Factor) - The 1993 film, Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas, is a bleak commentary on American values…hardly conducive to a song treatment, which Iron Maiden proves on their first album without iconic, long-time singer Bruce Dickinson, who had just left the band. The lyrics by replacement singer Blaze Bailey are simplistic, stupid and almost painful to read (like they were written by a reluctant 7th grader in a poetry class). While commercially, this song was one of the few bright spots during Maiden’s Blaze Bailey era, it is a lyrical low point well below their usual standards.
“The Edge of Darkness” (from the album The X Factor) - Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 classic, Apocalypse Now, has inspired numerous artists over the years. As a band with a penchant for war songs, it isn’t surprising Iron Maiden eventually got around to it as well. Musically, it's as dull & rambling as the final act of the movie which inspired it, but the lyrics are suitably dark and mournful.
|"I'm runnin' FREEEEE, yeah...I'm runnin' free..."|
“The Wicker Man” (from the album Brave New World) - The 1973 classic of the same name (not Nick Cage's bastardized bee debacle) provided the inspiration for this song, the opening track on Maiden’s first album with Dickinson back in the fold (after a sorely-missed, decade-long absence). Compared to Maiden's glory days, it's no classic, but at the time of its release, the catchy chorus and fiery guitar work made this their best song in years.
Up the Irons!
Up the Irons!