Skip

Hey, Soul Sister, is that Mr. Mister?
November 8, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

You guys have been awesome answering my slightly weird music questions, so, I turn to you again for help with another playlist. I'm looking for songs that reference other artists.

I'm specifically looking for rock songs (in all of the various ways 'rock' is interpreted, including pop, classic, etc) that mention other artists. I'm *not* looking for rap/hip-hop songs calling out other artists (sorry, Kendrick Lamar).

Some samples that I already know of:
  • The titular song, "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train, obviously mentions seminal 80s band Mr. Mister.
  • "Gimme Sympathy", by Metric, asks "Who would you rather be / The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?".
  • 60s and 70s iconic rockers T.Rex are mentioned in a few songs, including The Who's "You Better You Bet", Bowie's/Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes", and The Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock N' Roll Radio?".
  • New Radicals mentioned several artists, including Beck and Hanson, in "You Get What You Give".
  • Hootie and the Blowfish talk about Bob Dylan in "Only Wanna Be With You".
So... hit me with some more? Thanks!
posted by hanov3r to Media & Arts (157 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" references a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac.
posted by hmo at 9:27 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I Go Crazy" by Queen. ("I don't want to go and see the Rolling Stones no more")
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2013


Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water calls out several other acts that were at Montreux. (more)
posted by jquinby at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2013


Emmylou by First Aid Kit
Kylie by Akcent
Buddy Holly by Moog Cookbook
American Pie by Don McLean
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The lyrics to "Little Boys Playing With Dolls" by The Lords of the New Church is made up almost entirely of titles of New York Dolls songs
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013


Perhaps this is a little more oblique than you're looking for but in the Barenaked Ladies' Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, they mention Slow Motion Walter, the Fire Engine Guy. This is reference to Smoke on the Water. ("Smoke on the water/fire in the sky" is commonly misheard as Slow Motion Walter, &c).
posted by coppermoss at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013


Previously!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013


Dead Milkmen song Punk Rock Girl talks about Mojo Nixon.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also - Lynyrd Skynyrd calls out Neil Young in Sweet Home Alabama.
posted by jquinby at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" includes the line "Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie."

Bowie's own "Drive in Saturday" includes "When people stared in Jagger's eyes and scored like the video films we saw." When Morrissey covered this song he changed the line to David Johansen's eyes.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2013


Ben Lee - Catch My Disease
posted by unreasonable at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Liz Phair song Stratford-On-Guy has the line "And I was pretending that I was in a Galaxie 500 video"
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2013


Lots of punk songs reference the Beatles and the Stones, such as

One Down, Three To Go - The Meatmen
Ready, Steady, Go - Generation X
Living In The 80's - Zero Boys
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:32 AM on November 8, 2013


So great was my excitement to declaim about Slow Motion Walter that I forgot the more obvious Barenaked Ladies song: Brian Wilson.
posted by coppermoss at 9:32 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ke$ha's Tik Tok calls out Mick Jagger.
posted by something something at 9:33 AM on November 8, 2013


As it happens, my FAVORITEST BAND, The Hold Steady, often does this several times PER SONG, and another obsessive THS fan cataloged all of the band's references to OTHER bands.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:34 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Brian Wilson" by Barenaked Ladies' Steven Page is pretty substantial. Brian Wilson himself even has a cover of it.

Barenaked Ladies also has a song referencing Polonious Monk, but I can't think of the title at the moment.

Fastball's "Til I Get it Right" has a string of references in it, too.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2013


The Roxanne Wars
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2013


"I'm Afraid of Britney Spears" by Live on Release came instantly to mind.
posted by Sequence at 9:41 AM on November 8, 2013


Bowling for Soup's 1985 references Whitesnake, Springsteen, Madonna, U2, Blondie, etc. And it's a great song for those of us of a certain age.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:41 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


They Might Be Giants do this in a few songs

Menudo, MDC, and The Eurythmics in "Rhythm Section Want Ad"

Young Fresh Fellows in "Twisting"
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:41 AM on November 8, 2013


The House of Love, "The Beatles and the Stones"

Dexys Midnight Runners, "Jackie Wilson Said"

Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" refers to Jim Carroll, the poet ("riding in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim, those were different times"); several years later, after Carroll put together the Jim Carroll Band, he switched the line to refer back to Lou Reed.
posted by scody at 9:42 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"...waiting in line for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs" - from "Footsteps" by the Pocketbooks.
posted by griphus at 9:42 AM on November 8, 2013


Clem Snide mentions Deep Purple in their song "Sweet Mother Russia."

Bratmobile has a song called "Cheap Trick Record."

"Thurston Hearts the Who" by Bikini Kill is a two-for: Thurston Moore and The Who.

Counting Crows mention Bob Dylan in "Mr. Jones." (I have a feeling there are probably a lot of songs that mention Bob.
posted by dearwassily at 9:43 AM on November 8, 2013


Weezer's "In the Garage" mentions KISS.

Nerf Herder has got a bunch. "Van Halen" is ... about Van Halen. "Pantera Fans in Love" mentions the Cranberries, Vince Neil, The Offspring, Slayer, Ozzy, Megadeth, Metallica, and Manowar. "Courtney" is about Courtney Love. "Jonathan" is about Jonathan Richman. "Life on Mars" references Elton John. "Led Zeppelin Rules" is what it sounds like.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:43 AM on November 8, 2013


Oh, another Jim Carroll Band song: "Crow" is entirely about Patti Smith.
posted by scody at 9:43 AM on November 8, 2013


"R.A.M.O.N.E.S." by Motörhead
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh man, can't believe I forgot Alex Chilton by the Replacements (which refers both to Chilton and to Big Star).
posted by scody at 9:45 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don Henley Must Die - Mojo Nixon
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:46 AM on November 8, 2013


Oh and Steely Dan -- 'Retha Franklin in "Hey Nineteen" and Elvis in "FM"
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2013


Range Life by Pavement is kind of infamous

"Hey Joni" by Sonic Youth is arguably about Joni Mitchell
"You Were Right" by Built to Spill doesn't really name-check, but does reference lyrics
"Alex Chilton" by the Replacements obviously references Alex Chilton, as well as Big Star
posted by LionIndex at 9:48 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think calling either of these rock would be a bit of a stretch but
"Hi We're the Replacements" by They Might Be Giants.
and
"Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2013


Death Cab for Cutie's We Looked Like Giants explicitly references The Jesus and Mary Chain.
posted by axiom at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2013


Built to Spill - Distopian Dream Girl: ("my step-father looks / just like David Bowie / but he hates David Bowie / I think Bowie's cool / I think Lodger rules / and my step-dad's a fool")
posted by mean square error at 9:51 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something Corporate's Konstantine - Jimmy Eat World.

Kid Rock's All Summer Long - Sweet Home Alabama.

Not sure if you're interested in country music, but it happens enough there that I once tried to put together a playlist of songs that were linked such that the referenced artist performed the next song. It always dead ended at Hank Williams Jr or George Strait after just a few songs, but here's the spreadsheet I put together.
posted by natabat at 9:51 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ben Folds Five "Battle Of Who Could Care Less"

"Oh well maybe not I'll try again
This should cheer you up for sure
See I've got your old I.D.
And you're all dressed up like the Cure "
posted by christiehawk at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and "Hot Topic" by Le Tigre mentions Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, The Butchies, Sleater-Kinney, Joan Jett, and on...
posted by dearwassily at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yo La Tengo - Let's Save Tony Orlando's House mentions the titular Tony O., plus Dawn and Frankie Valli (Bonus: this is also apparently a Simpsons Troy McClure reference).
posted by mean square error at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2013


"moves like Jagger" by Maroon 5
posted by christiehawk at 9:54 AM on November 8, 2013


Yo La Tengo also references America (the band) in a song on President Yo La Tengo, I think in "Lewis".
posted by LionIndex at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2013


The Smithereens, "Behind the Wall of Sleep" - Bill Wyman
Too Much Joy, "If I Was a Mekon" - The Mekons
Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA" - Jay-Z, Britney Spears
posted by candyland at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2013


Not by name, but My Baby by the Pretenders is about Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, Chrissie Hynde's husband at the time.
posted by chazlarson at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2013


Bastard Son by John Wesley Harding is basically a love letter to the folk rock scene and mentions dozen of artists. Lyrics
posted by kimdog at 9:58 AM on November 8, 2013


LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge catalogs a ton of "avant garde" recording artists, spanning several decades.
posted by mean square error at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


We Became Actors has a song called "I Feel Like This Summer is Gonna Be One Long Hold Steady Song".
posted by Area Man at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2013


Mariah Carey mentions Bobby Womack in "We Belong Together".

The Police/Sting mention James Brown in "When the World is Running Down".
posted by fuse theorem at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2013


The Minus 5 - The Town that Lost its Groove Supply gives you yet another T. Rex reference.
posted by mean square error at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2013


"My Sister" by Juliana Hatfield name-checks the Violent Femmes and the Del Fuegos.

"Stereo" by Pavement poses the critical question: "What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy. (I know him, and he does.)"

"With David Bowie" by Veruca Salt references David Bowie.

The entire lyrics of "David Bowie" by Phish are "David Bowie / UB40"
posted by The World Famous at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Death Cab for Cutie's We Looked Like Giants explicitly references The Jesus and Mary Chain

...and Death Cab for Cutie got its own name from a song by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
posted by flabdablet at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2013


"Life is a Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" is pretty much the ultimate here.
posted by kimota at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Tom club - genius of love (James brown)
posted by LaunchBox at 10:02 AM on November 8, 2013


The roof is on fire mentions barry white, jimi hendrix, kurt cobain, etc.
posted by Marauding Ennui at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2013


Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer: ("playing KISS covers, / beautiful and stoned")
posted by mean square error at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2013


The Fall has mentioned Bjorn and Benny, the Worst, Frankie Lymon, Jake Burns, Joe Strummer, Faust, Johnny Rotten, Bill Haley, the Beat, Wah! Heat, Captain Beefheart, the Ramones, Elton John, Megas Jonsson, D. Bowie, the Moody Blues, Kevin Ayers, Link Wray, the B.E.F., Louis Armstrong, Shakin’ Stevens and King Crimson throughout their 35-year career.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2013


Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road:
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
posted by gladly at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


More LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk is playing at my house. ('Rock' might be stretching it a bit, though)
posted by gnimmel at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2013


Weezer's El Scorcho mentions Green Day.
posted by Twicketface at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2013


NoFX's "Whoa on the Whoas" mentions AFI and The Offspring.

And their "San Francisco Fat" mentions Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins).
posted by Twicketface at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2013


Destroyer's catalog probably has many of these, but the only one I can think of now is Destroyer - Virgin With a Memory: ("now is your chance to be free of all those favorite bands you ditched for one that's grander: No Use For A Name to the Make-up"; Bonus: Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo reference)
posted by mean square error at 10:16 AM on November 8, 2013


Peter Paul and Mary's I Dig Rock and Roll Music go one better by parodying the styles of the artists they reference. Hilarious.
posted by phunniemee at 10:16 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cheap Trick’s "Surrender" mentions Kiss
Patty Loveless’s "I Try To Think About Elvis" lists Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones
Pop Will Eat Itself’s "Not Now James, We’re Busy" is about James Brown
Pop Will Eat Itself’s "Can U Dig It?" lists Run-DMC, Renegade Soundwave and AC/DC
posted by bongo_x at 10:17 AM on November 8, 2013


Twee band Tullycraft have several songs that are filled with references to/mentions of other bands.

Pop Songs Your Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About mentions sixteen bands from Sting and U2 to the Bartlebees and the Halo Benders.

Twee mentions several bands (14 Iced Bears, Posies, etc.) and then makes reference to another pile of bands (and record labels). The comments at the linked songmeanings page spells out most/all of them. YouTube.

Many of their other songs mention other bands from "I Kept the Beach Boys" to "Orange Cake Mix".
posted by mountmccabe at 10:17 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are all great! Keep 'em coming!

Oh, I almost forgot - The Commodore's "Nightshift", a wonderful little tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson.
posted by hanov3r at 10:18 AM on November 8, 2013


Let's Dance to Joy Division by the Wombats.
posted by PussKillian at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sebadoh's "Gimme Indie Rock" mentions Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, and Pussy Galore. Palace (Bonnie Prince Billy) has a song called "For The Mekons et al."
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"London Calling" by the Clash mentions that "phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust."

You'll Dance to Anything by the Dead Milkman disparages a shit ton of artists.

In a similar vein is the Anti-Music Song by the Mountain Goats.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:23 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bob Dylan refers to Neal Young and Erica Jong in Highlands. I guess Jong is not a rock star, but I like the line. He calls out Alicia Keys in Thunder on the Mountain. And he has a song about John Lennon, Roll on John, on his latest album. There are surely other Dylan examples.
posted by Xalf at 10:24 AM on November 8, 2013


Gillian Welch - Elvis Presley Blues
posted by Xalf at 10:25 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The death of Ferdinand de Saussure by the magnetic fields (not sure if it counts as rock)--"this is for Holland-Dozier-Holland!"
posted by phoenixy at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2013


Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson: She knows all the words to every Charlie Daniels and Tanya Tucker song, plus more shoutouts.

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts by X:
But what about the Minutemen, Flesh Eaters, DOA
Big Boys and the Black Flag?
Will the last American band to get played on the radio
Please bring the flag? Please bring the flag?

posted by expialidocious at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2013


Regina Spektor's On the Radio doesn't reference Guns n' Roses explicitly, but mentions the song November Rain.
posted by Blitz at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2013


Not sure it qualifies as Rock but Diamond Dave by The Bird and The Bee is about (I assume) David Lee Roth, though his last name is never mentioned.

The Red Hot Chili Pepper's Good Time Boys mentions Firehose and Fishbone.

U2's Angel of Harlem mentions a couple artists. John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
posted by bondcliff at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2013


Kinda surprised the other TMBG fans didn't mention "XTC vs. Adam Ant" yet!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or "Hey, We're The Replacements" for that matter.
posted by nickmark at 10:30 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elvis Costello references Merle Haggard in "The Big Light."

The Dead Milkmen sing "In Praise of Sha Na Na."

Dance Hall Crashers refer to Stevie Wonder and Shonen Knife in "So Sue Us."
posted by cabingirl at 10:30 AM on November 8, 2013


Paul Simon mentions Phil Spector, and host of writers in A Simple Desultory Philippic, including Dylan Thomas, whoever he was.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:33 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dismemberment Plan's Ice of Boston:

"woke up at 3 AM with the radio on,
that Gladys Knight and the Pips song on
About how she'd rather live in his world with him
Than live in her own world alone
And I lay there, head spinning, trying to fall asleep
And I thought to myself: "Oh, Gladys, girl, I love you but, oh, get a life!"

posted by redsparkler at 10:33 AM on November 8, 2013


Pavement's "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" is explicitly all about REM (as one of "some bands [they'd] like to name check") and their album Document, and describes the band members ("the singer, he had long hair and the drummer, he knew restraint...") and opines about the songs on the album ("Time After Time! Was my least favorite song!").
posted by KatlaDragon at 10:34 AM on November 8, 2013


Rock and Roll Heaven
And didn't Warren Zevon write at least two songs about Elvis?
posted by Ideefixe at 10:37 AM on November 8, 2013


Train's Drops of Jupiter references Mozart.

Weird Al, of course, does this a lot (for varying values of "rock"), but the canonical example would be "My Baby's in Love with Eddie Vedder".
posted by brentajones at 10:38 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


More Ben Folds - Rockin' The Suburbs calls out Michael Jackson, Quiet Riot and Jon Bon Jovi as more talented than he.
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" mentions Peter Gabriel.

"When Smokey Sings" by ABC, about Smokey Robinson. Also mentions Luther Vandross, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Sly & the Family Stone.

Dixie Chicks' "Long Time Gone" has a fun stanza of mentions:

We listen to the radio to hear what's cookin’
But the music ain't got no soul
Now they sound tired but they don't sound Haggard
They've got money but they don't have Cash
They got Junior but they don't have Hank

posted by xsquared-1 at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Midnight Radio" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a line: "Here's to Patti, and Tina, and Yoko, Aretha, and Nona, and Nico - and me!"

Great song. I had to look up Nona, which refers to Nona Hendryx, one of the original members of the group Labelle (of Lady Marmalade fame).
posted by robstercraw at 10:44 AM on November 8, 2013


You might want to delve into 1960s answer / response songs - there are a lot. Some specifically call out the other artist, many are just direct responses to the content of a song.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:45 AM on November 8, 2013


The line in Mike Doughty's beautiful "Fort Hood," "You should blast Young Jeezy with your friends in a parking lot" gets me every.damn.time.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:46 AM on November 8, 2013


Another Ben Folds song, "Late:" "Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar / and some dirty basketball."

Somewhat of a eulogy to Elliott Smith from an artist who only knew him tangentially.
posted by robstercraw at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2013


Piebald's "Location is Everything" mentions Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin.
posted by saladin at 10:48 AM on November 8, 2013


"KMFDM Sucks" disparages a few popular artists.
The Mountain Goats have a ton, I'm sure there are more but here are a few besides the aforementioned Anti-Music Song:
Scotch Grove mentions Leann Rimes
Horseradish Road mentions Maria Callas
Song for Dennis Brown is about Dennis Brown
The Last Day of Jimi Hendrix's Life is about Jimi Hendrix

The Magnetic Fields song Acoustic Guitar mentions Steve Earle, Charo and GWAR.

KOPMPRESSOR's You will call me KOMPRESSOR includes the repeated exclamation "KOMPRESSOR CRUSH PAUL SIMON!!!"
posted by contraption at 10:49 AM on November 8, 2013


The Stratford 4 - "Telephone" mentions Spacemen 3, Primal Scream, T Rex, Belle & Sebastian, Echo and The Bunnymen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Carole King and the Stratford 4.

Jimmy Eat World - "Authority Song" - mentions the Jesus and Mary Chain ("DJ never has it, JAMC Automatic")


The LS Underground album The Grape Prophet was a takedown of the Vineyard movement and references several (at the time) affiliated bands. "Ellis Speaks with the Prophets" has a line "Chosen with strength for the sights unseen", referencing the Violet Burning (their first two albums were Chosen and Strength) and Asight Unseen. (The character name "Ellis" is of course a reference to themselves).
posted by mountmccabe at 10:50 AM on November 8, 2013


Daft Punk is Playing at My House, by LCD Soundsystem.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Laura Branigan's "Spanish Eddie" mentions Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row".

Warren Zevon's "Play It All Night Long" obliquely refers to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"Sweet Home Alabama
Play that dead band's song
Turn the speakers up full blast
Play it all night long."

Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2" is about Janis Joplin, although her name is not actually spoken.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 11:01 AM on November 8, 2013


Rick James by Jude.
posted by frobozz at 11:04 AM on November 8, 2013


Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2" is about Janis Joplin, although her name is not actually spoken.

And "The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" by Jeff Lewis references Leonard Cohen and "Chelsea Hotel #2".
posted by contraption at 11:05 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Soft Boys - Mr. Kennedy mentions "riding in a van with Sebadoh"
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:06 AM on November 8, 2013


Mary Lou Lord mentions a few dozen bands in His indie World

Belle and Sebastian sing about The Boy from the Arab Strap
posted by shothotbot at 11:10 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


To add to octorok's Steely Dan list: "Everything You Did" mentions the Eagles; "Your Gold Teeth" mentions Cathy Berberian. "Midnite Cruiser" may or may not be about Thelonious Monk.

The Beach Boys's mediocre song "Surfers Rule" calls out the Four Seasons on the tag.

Amorf Ördögök's "Betyár a holdon" mentions Bartók and Kodály.

Locomotiv GT mention the Rolling Stones in "Boksz".
posted by jackbishop at 11:12 AM on November 8, 2013


John Mellancamp's R.O.C.K in the USA references, among others, Jackie Wilson, ShangriLas, Young Rascals, Martha Reeves and lets not forget James Brown.
posted by Billiken at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2013


Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City mentions Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Blondie, Dee Dee Ramone, the Heartbreakers, and their own band.

The Ataris - Song For A Mix Tape - Jawbreaker and Armchair Martian, Built To Spill and The Descendents...Hell I even put one of ours on it.
posted by namewithoutwords at 11:20 AM on November 8, 2013


Previously, a list of name-dropping in songs.
posted by Paper rabies at 11:23 AM on November 8, 2013


This is fun!
  • Richard Thompson, "I Agree With Pat Metheny" -- Pat Metheny, Kenny G
  • Mamas and the Papas, "Creeque Alley" -- The Byrds (McGuinn) Barry McGuire, The Mugwumps, The Loving Spoonful
  • The Archies, "Feelin' So Good (Skooby Doo)" -- Mama Cass
  • Eric Burdon and the (new) Animals, "Monterrey" -- The Byrds, The Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Brian Jones, Hugh Masekela, Ravi Shankar
  • Grand Funk, "We're An American Band" -- Freddie King
  • Bo Diddley, "Bo Diddley" -- Bo Diddley
  • Bad Company, "Bad Company" -- Bad Company
  • Simon & Garr, "A Simple Desultory Philippic" -- Bob Dylan
  • Tom Tom Club, "Genius of Love" -- James Brown
  • The Mothers of Invention, "Status Back Baby" -- The Coasters
  • Bob Segar, "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" -- Chuck Berry
  • Randy Newman, "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band" -- Electric Light Orchestra
  • Richard Thompson, "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" -- Ralph Vaughn Williams
  • The Commodores, "Night Shift" -- Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson
  • Arthur Conley, "Sweet Soul Music" -- Lou Rawls, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, James Brown, The Miracles (obliquely)
  • Van Morrision, "Jackie Wilson Said" -- Jackie Wilson
Seems like there's tons of songs that mention The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Chuck Berry. I'll give it further thought.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:32 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Looking Out My Backdoor" by CCR, John Fogerty is of course listening to Buck Owens while looking out his backdoor.

"1977" by the Clash, "No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones." Interestingly, all three had new material out in 1977.

The Pooh Sticks' "On Tape" references what he has on tape: Orange Juice's Falling and Laughing, the Pastels, Sky Saxon (of the Seeds), Velvet Underground, Mighty Mighty, the Monkees' Head soundtrack, the Soup Dragons, Martin Whitehead of the Flatmates, Phil Spector, everything by the Ronettes.

Teenage Fanclub "The Concept," She's going to get some records by the Status Quo.

Some tributes: "A Tribute to a King" by William Bell about Otis Redding. "The Late Great Johnny Ace" by Paul Simon about John Lennon.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 11:41 AM on November 8, 2013


  • The Residents, "Elvis and His Boss" -- Elvis Presley
  • Christopher Guest, "Overdose Heaven" -- Brian, Jimi, and Pearl
  • The Righteous Brothers, "Rock and Roll Heaven" -- Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, The Doors, Jim Croce, Bobby Darin

posted by Herodios at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2013


This thread might be a good resource, too.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2013


There's "Dolly Parton's Tits" by the ever-provocative MacLean and MacLean
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2013




She's Dead, by Jim's Big Ego.

But now she's dead and we are not
she's made it to the other side
I bet Jim Morrisson is there (and Kurt and Jerry and that guy from Sublime)
and other people who have died

posted by bondcliff at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Owen Pallett's song "This is the Dream of Win and Regine" is a reference to Arcade Fire. "Honour the Dead or Else" also briefly mentions The Cure.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2013


"Goodbye Porkpie Hat", is of course a jazz tune written by Charles Mingus about Lester Young; Roland Kirk later added lyrics; Joni Mitchell wrote her own lyrics for her cover on the Mingus album. Jeff Beck covered it as an instrumental on Wired. Not at all a rock song, but there's some jazz discharge into the rock world there.

Which reminds me of "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque", by Frank Zappa.
 
posted by Herodios at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dandy Warhols, Cool as Kim Deal.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:28 PM on November 8, 2013


better than ezra's song "a lifetime" references REM: "and that REM song was playing in my mind..."
posted by carlypennylane at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Instant Club Hit by Dead Milkmen (known commonly as "You'll Dance to Anything") - not sure what to call it genre-wise - sort of a piss-take on club music. In any case, the bands you will dance to include The Communards, Book of Love, The Smiths, Depeche Commode (ha!), Public Image Limited, and Naked Truth
posted by O9scar at 12:45 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Electric Light Orchestra's "Rockaria!" mentions a number of classical composers.

Josh Joplin Group's "Phil Ochs" is, unsurprisingly, about Phil Ochs.
posted by tckma at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2013


I seem to be on a bit of a classical kick. I can't believe no one has mentioned the 80s hit "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco.
posted by tckma at 12:47 PM on November 8, 2013


There's also "Be My Yoko Ono" by the Barenaked Ladies. I'm going to stop until I collect a list of several.
posted by tckma at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2013


"Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band references Spike Jones, who, according to Wikipedia, "was an American musician and bandleader specializing in performing satirical arrangements of popular songs."

"Yer Blues" by the Beatles explicitly mentions "Dylan's Mr. Jones," the square target of "Ballad of a Thin Man."

"Frank Sinatra" by Cake invokes a performance of "Stormy Weather."

"Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother" by Ray Wylie Hubbard (at least the Jerry Jeff Walker version) mentions Merle Haggard.

"Acuff/Rose" by Uncle Tupelo pays homage to those legendary country songwriters.

Etta James, in her fantastic version of "Misty" from the 1967 "Tell Mama" sessions, segues into the coda of the song by shouting, "As Ray Charles might say...."
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 12:58 PM on November 8, 2013


Indigo Girls - "Rise Up" - "Call me up for tickets, we'll go see Sugarland. And it gets better even when it's been a drag. Just move to the music, move your body to the band and rise up."
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:40 PM on November 8, 2013


This is a welcome and enjoyable distraction for me. Some others I came up with:
  • "Teenager" by Better Than Ezra mentions The Cure.
  • The very band name Better Than Ezra, apparently, references a band called Ezra against which BTE had won in a competition.
  • "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus mentions Iron Maiden. (I'm not sure what genre I'd consider Wheatus, though.)
  • "Maybe" by The Wonder Stuff mentions Michael Stipe of REM.
  • "Never Loved Elvis," also by The Wonder Stuff.
  • I'm not sure that this counts, but in his song "Army," Ben Folds references a former band he had been in, though not by name. (Another of his songs has already been mentioned in this thread.)
  • 2nu's "DDS Blues" mentions Twisted Sister. (OK, I admit it, I'm bending your genre requirements here a tad.)
Oh, and the aforementioned "Phil Ochs" also mentions Sugar Ray.
posted by tckma at 1:53 PM on November 8, 2013


Warlock Pinchers: Morrissey Rides a Cock Horse. It's about Morrissey.

The Maggots: Let's Get Tammy Wynette

Anal Cunt did it constantly; these are from just from one album: 311 Sucks; Kyle From Incantation Has A Mustache; Hootie and the Blowfish; You Went To See Dishwalla And Everclear (You're Gay); Your Cousin Is George Lynch
posted by Su at 1:56 PM on November 8, 2013


Speaking of Phil Ochs there's also The Day by They Might Be Giants, which is about the day Marvin Gaye and Phil Ochs got married.
posted by contraption at 2:00 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Crowded House refer to Andrew Lloyd Webber in "Chocolate Cake" and Frank Sinatra in "She Goes On" - both found on the Woodface album.

Jay Munly did a song called " Rufus Wainwright, I Am Coming After You".
posted by kariebookish at 2:00 PM on November 8, 2013


And "The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" by Jeff Lewis references Leonard Cohen and "Chelsea Hotel #2".

And of course Jeffrey Lewis did "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" which is about meeting Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy). And he has just released "WWPRD?" ["What Would Pussy Riot Do?"].

Jonathan Richman springs to mind with "Velvet Underground" and he has a song that references the Stones (and Keith and Brian Jones specifically).

New Zealand group The Chills had "Song for Randy Newman etc" which namedrops "men like [Brian] Wilson, [Syd] Barrett, [Scott Walker], [Nick] Drake" and "Don't Be - Memory" which has the line "listening to the Byrds sing / on the tape recorder".

"Don't Wanna Be Grant McLennan" by Smudge is about the now-deceased Go-Betweens singer.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2013


Hot Chip's "Down With Prince" is about those who pretend to be down with, you know, Prince.
Smot's "Prince Alone in the Studio" is about Prince, alone, in his studio.
Ice-T's "What Can I Do?" mentions buying a house next to Prince.

Prince's own "Ballad of Dorothy Parker" mentions Joni (Mitchell) singing "Help Me".
Prince has several other songs that mention other artists, but more as shout-outs than in the context of the lyrics; These include Sly Stone, James Brown, Mahalia Jackson, Run DMC, Questlove, D'Angelo and Earth, Wind & Fire.
posted by anildash at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2013


Goddamnit, that's Ice Cube, not Ice-T.
posted by anildash at 2:11 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And every so many about Elvis.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:17 PM on November 8, 2013


Neal Young - "Hey Hey, My My" - "this is the story of Johnny Rotten"
Does CSS count? "Let's Make Love (and Listen to Death from Above)"
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:23 PM on November 8, 2013


Sloan's song "Coax Me" from Twice Removed (1994) references Canadian industrial/electronic band Consolidated. ("I think Consolidated's okay...it's not the band I hate, it's their fans)
posted by jmcnally at 2:24 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charles Mingus, "Gunslinging Bird," aka "If Charlie Parker were a Gunslinger, There'd be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats."

Not sure if it's exactly what you're talking about, but Wynton Marsalis' "Premature Autopsies" features a reading of the Stanley Crouch essay by the same name, read by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. It focuses on Duke Ellington and mentions Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker.
posted by me3dia at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2013


Camera Obscura's song "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" from 2006 album Let's Get Out of This Country is a brilliant response to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' song "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" from 1984's Rattlesnakes - both songs are great.
posted by jmcnally at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The song "Ode to a Black Man," which is awesome, references Stevie Wonder and Robert Johnson and a bunch of others.

I know this song as done by the Dirtbombs, but it's originally by Philip Lynott.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 2:44 PM on November 8, 2013


Billy Bragg, "I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night"
Billy Bragg, "Levi Stubbs' Tears" (also has "she puts on the Four Tops tape)
The Who, "The Seeker": "I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles"

U2's Angel of Harlem mentions a couple artists. John Coltrane and Miles Davis

It's about Billie Holiday, and mentions her ("Lady Day").
posted by kirkaracha at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2013


Amanda Palmer - "Oasis"
posted by skyl1n3 at 4:06 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's another one about The Replacements: Tommy Womack's "The Replacements." Just Shazamed that like...yesterday.
posted by limeonaire at 5:02 PM on November 8, 2013


Bowling for Soup's 1985 yt references Whitesnake, Springsteen, Madonna, U2, Blondie, etc. And it's a great song for those of us of a certain age.

If you're going to look up the song "1985," go for the original, by SR-71; it has better pop-culture references.
posted by limeonaire at 5:07 PM on November 8, 2013


Robbie Fulks' brilliant "Fountains of Wayne Hotline"!
posted by limeonaire at 5:14 PM on November 8, 2013


On the pop divas end of the spectrum:
Katy Perry The One That Got Away (line: "We'd make out in your Mustang to Radiohead" and "I was June and you were my Johnny Cash")
Lady Gaga Boys Boys Boys (line: Let's go see The Killers and make out in the bleachers)
Pink Don't Let Me Get Me (line: Tired of being compared/to damn Britney Spears)
posted by witchstone at 5:16 PM on November 8, 2013


Song for Bob Dylan by David Bowie is based on
Song to Woody [Guthrie] by Bob Dylan
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:06 PM on November 8, 2013


Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea: ("give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld")
Destroyer - A Dangerous Woman Up to a Point: ("those who love Zeppelin will soon betray Floyd")
posted by mean square error at 6:34 PM on November 8, 2013


Avril Lavigne's "Here's to Never Growing Up" references Radiohead. "Singing Radiohead at the top of our lungs..."
posted by kythuen at 6:38 PM on November 8, 2013


Carolyn Mark dreamed Vincent Gallo was
Hanging out with me and Neko
And Neko had to go- thank god


She also hangs out with her American friends and watches Toby Keith and Sheryl Crow on Yanksgiving.
posted by pernoctalian at 7:08 PM on November 8, 2013


Don't think these have been mentioned so far. Some aren't exactly rock songs, but instantly sprang to mind.

Stan Rogers - "So Blue" - "I wanna listen to Joni Mitchell on the radio and make love"

Nine Inch Nails doesn't exactly mention Carly Simon but it's hard not to think of her when in "Starfuckers Inc" Reznor sings "You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you, don't you."

Snow Patrol - "Hands Open" - "Put Sufjan Stevens on and we'll play your favourite song".

Lloyd Cole, mentioned above, tells a story on a live album about Alice Cooper at a gig in Florida introducing his song "Only Women Bleed" by saying "Even Lloyd Cole doesn't have a song about menstruation." Lloyd explains, "My favourite bit about this story, actually, is that Alice Cooper knows who I am." He tells this story after singing "Impossible Girl", which does have a reasonably tasteful reference to menstruation.

Paul Simon - can't believe no one has mentioned the song "Graceland" which, though not specifically mentioning Elvis, is definitely the same Graceland. He also mentions "Clifton Chenier, King of the Bayou" in "That Was Your Mother".

Everclear - "AM Radio" - reference both Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:22 PM on November 8, 2013


True by Spandau Ballet - "Listening to Marvin [Gaye] all night long..."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:29 PM on November 8, 2013


Thanks to a bout of insomnia, I realised that Mull Historical Society mentions Johnny Cash in their (rather epic) rant of a song: "This Is the Hebrides".
posted by kariebookish at 11:30 PM on November 8, 2013


natabat's spreadsheet mentioned a bunch I thought of, but this is definitely super common in country music. It's almost hard to think of a country song that doesn't namecheck somebody:

-Jason Aldean, Dirt Road Anthem - George Jones ("swervin' like I'm George Jones")
-Brantley Gilbert, Country Must Be Country Wide - Chris Ledoux; "every state, there's a station, playin' Cash, Hank, Willie and Waylon"
-Travis Tritt, Put Some Drive in Your Country - Duane Allman
-Montgomery Gentry, She Couldn't Change Me - Merle Haggard and George Jones
-David Allan Coe, You Never Even Called Me By My Name - Waylon, Merle, Charley Pride, Steve Goodman (the songwriter), plus himself
-Kenny Chesney, How Forever Feels - Jimmy Buffett
-Waylon Jennings, Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?

For a non-country song, Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" references Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway.
posted by timetoevolve at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2013


Oasis - "Strange Thing" [Mick Jagger]
Mick says that he can never get no satisfaction

The Decemberists or Tarkio - "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist" [Édith Piaf]
And they toasted to Édith Piaf and the fall of the Reich

Beady Eye - "Beatles and Stones" [The Beatles and The Rolling Stones]
I'm gonna stand the test of time like Beatles and Stones

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Californication" [Kurt Cobain]
Cobain, can you hear the spheres singing songs off station to station?
posted by xenization at 8:10 AM on November 9, 2013


Alannah Myles - Black Velvet (Elvis)
posted by CrunchyFrog at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2013


Another Mojo Nixon song: "Elvis is Everywhere" (also contains a passing reference to Billy Idol)
posted by scody at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2013


A misheard, nonexistent Replacements/Guided by Voices crossover: The Replacements' "I'll Be You" sounds like it references "Sopor Joe" by Guided by Voices (except actually Paul Westerberg's saying "Surfer Joe"). Someone should record a version that namechecks the GBV song instead!
posted by limeonaire at 2:55 PM on November 9, 2013


"Alexander the Great" by The Strawbs "could've been as big as the Beatles or the Stones"

"Mulberry Dawn" by Peter Sarstedt "John Lennon was there, shouting 'I'm the King of London'"

"God" by John Lennon "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me"

"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel - references Dylan, Buddy Holly, U2, Liberace, Toscanini, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Chubby Checker, and Beatlemania
posted by lockedroomguy at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2013


Forgot about Drive-by Truckers:
The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town
Let There Be Rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, 38 Special, Johnny Van Zant, Ozzy Osbourne)
Carl Perkin's Cadillac (Elvis, Johnny Cash)
Danko/Manuel (Richard Manuel and Rick Danko of The Band)
Ronnie & Neil (Wilson Picket, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, Ronnie Van Zandt, Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Greenville to Baton Rouge(Aerosmith, Stevie Gaines)
posted by kimdog at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2013


"God" by John Lennon "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me"

Plus "I don't believe in Elvis" and "I don't believe in Zimmerman" (i.e., Dylan).

Speaking of Lennon: Bowie's "Life on Mars" contains the lyric "Now the workers have struck for fame / 'Cause Lennon's on sale again" (which is probably a pun on "Lenin").
posted by scody at 2:15 PM on November 10, 2013


Also, can't forget Nick Lowe, "Rollers Show" (referencing the Bay City Rollers, for all you youngsters who may need to look it up).
posted by scody at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2013


"Suzanne" by Weezer mentions members of Guns N' Roses:

Even Izzy, Slash and Axl Rose
When I call, you put 'em all on hold
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2013


Came across another one: The National's Pink Rabbits mentions the Morrissey album Bona Drag.
posted by axiom at 2:40 PM on November 12, 2013


The Pretenders, "Precious":
I was feeling kind of ethereal cuz I'm precious
I had my eye on your imperial you're so precious
Now Howard the Duck and Mister|Stress both stayed
"Trapped in a world that they never made"
But not me, baby, I'm too precious, I had to fuck off . . .
posted by Herodios at 11:29 AM on November 13, 2013


Katzenjammer's "Le Pop" (Le Pop): "you'd sell tickets to a funeral, cos you need tickets to the Cramps."

The Magnetic Fields' "Acoustic Guitar" (69 Love Songs) mentions Steve Earle, Charo and Gwar.

The Evaporators "Winnipeg '64" (I'm Going to France!) is all about mid-60's Winnipeg rocknroll, including Neil Young's early band ("were you really a Reagan supporter, Neil? I still wanna meet you cos you were a Squire").
posted by hannahmae at 10:34 AM on November 16, 2013


Killing Me Softly With His Song is arguably about Don McLean.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:18 PM on November 18, 2013


"Joe Strummer" by Cowboy Mouth.
posted by limeonaire at 10:05 AM on December 3, 2013


« Older Is the BBC2 series Arena avail...   |  I am involved in hiring for a ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post