A Playlist for Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s fair-haired heroine is not your typical seven-year-old. She’s polite, precocious, quick to show off her knowledge. She’s well-mannered, though put off when others aren’t. Last and perhaps most importantly, she’s wildly curious, which serves her well on her surreal and psychedelic explorations in Wonderland. Here’s the thing: Carroll’s stories may be for children, but they are also quite dark and strange, and any playlist worthy of Alice Liddell must reflect that. So press Play and join us on a musical adventure for Alice.


“White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane

Grace Slick’s lyrics borrow extensive imagery from Carroll’s work, but use them as a metaphor for mind-altering drugs. Though on the surface, they still reads like a direct homage:

“And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small”


“Looking Glass Girl” – The Glove

The trippiness continues with this offering from The Glove, a one-off collaboration between members of The Cure and Siouxsie and The Banshees. The girl being sung about could very well be our Alice, and it has surreal imagery and a feeling of disorientation appropriate for her journey:

“Like a looking-glass-girl
In a minature world
Whirl your Disney arms
And jump the merry-go-round”



“Alice” – Sisters of Mercy

Since Lewis Carroll’s work contains dark and weird elements, it makes sense to have a goth band represent a gloomier version of our young heroine:

“Alice pressed against the wall
So she can see the door
In case the laughing strangers crawl and
Crush the petals on the floor”



“Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” – Radiohead

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has said song this song was inspired by the frightening sequence in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where our heroine faces a hall of locked doors.

“There are doors that let you in
And out
But never open
But they are trapdoors
That you can't come back from”



“Alice” – Tom Waits

The songs on Waits’ album, Alice were adapted from music he wrote for an avante garde opera loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s obsession with the woman who inspired the fictional Alice Liddell. The title track has a gloomy-yet-sweet wistfulness toward its heroine.



“I Am The Walrus” – Bono

The titular character in this psychedelic Beatles classic, covered here by Bono, refers to the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” from Through the Looking Glass. John Lennon wrote some of the lyrics on an acid trip, so good luck sorting them out:

“I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together
See how they run like pigs from a gun see how they fly
I'm crying”



“Alice” – Stevie Nicks

If you think we’re cheating by just throwing out songs titled “Alice,” we can assure you this one is also about Ms. Liddell. There’s no mistaking the reference in these lyrics:

“‘Better run for your life!’ cried the Mad Hatter
‘Alright,’ said Alice… ‘I'm going back…
To the other side of the mirror… I'm going back… ‘”



“Malice Through The Looking Glass” – The Tear Garden

Disorientation is a recurring theme in Carroll’s work, as Alice navigates the labyrinthine world of Wonderland. This haunting and subdued tune reflects a similar sense of feeling lost and directionless:

“I can't find my way back because my tracks move in spirals to me.”

The full playlist is above and don't forget to follow us on Spotify for more fun playlists!

Margarita Montimore

Margarita Montimore

Margarita writes upmarket fiction and is represented by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Rostan. She also transcribes and pokes fun at her old journal entries at The Diary Project. When not wrangling her ever-growing book and movie collections or feeding squirrels and chipmunks, she dreams of the day time machines are built so that she can return to the 1980s. Follow her on Twitter at @damiella.