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Songs inspired by songs?
October 25, 2007 3:30 AM   Subscribe

What are some songs inspired by other songs?

I'm looking for songs inspired by other specific songs - they're either responding or telling a different aspect of the same story. Ex: Kings of Leon's "Molly's Chambers" is inspired by "Whiskey in the Jar" ("Being drunk and weary I went to Molly's chamber"), "Sweet Home Alabama" is a response to "Southern Man."
posted by brittanyq to Media & Arts (77 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I should add that I've already seen this post, but I'm not looking for songs that are just about songs or music in general, but for songs that are about a specific other song.

Hmmm... do you think I could worked "song" in there any more? I don't think 4x in one sentence is quite enough.
posted by brittanyq at 3:34 AM on October 25, 2007


I think you want to research answer songs.
posted by pracowity at 3:38 AM on October 25, 2007


Everybody knows that "Southern Man" was answered in "Sweet Home Alabama," but "Sweet Home Alabama" was itself answered in "Play It All Night Long" by the late Warren Zevon, making a rare three-part song chain.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:49 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It's My Party" has a bubbly little follow up number, "Judy's Turn to Cry"

"King of the Road" inspired "Queen of the House", which is about the day to day life of a '60s housewife.

Actually, an album is about to be released of girl answer songs from the '60s.
posted by diamondsky at 4:16 AM on October 25, 2007


Well, there's "Rocket Man", which is said to be inspired by Bowie's "Space Oddity".
posted by richardh at 4:25 AM on October 25, 2007


I'll Never Be your Maggie May by Suzanne Vega is in reply to Maggie May be Rod Stewart.

Tori Amos' Strange Little Girl LP is all covers of songs written by men, re-interpreted from a female POV. '97 Bonnie and Clyde and I'm Not in Love fare pretty well in the translation, IMO. Wikipedia
posted by Jakey at 4:37 AM on October 25, 2007


I cringe that I know this, but they're on my wife's MP3 player.

From Wikipedia: F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back)" is a song by Frankee, which topped the charts in the UK and Australia upon its release. It is an answer song to Eamon's Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back).
posted by empyrean at 4:38 AM on October 25, 2007


The Unforgiven II, a sequel to The Unforgiven (both by Metallica).
posted by fallenposters at 4:45 AM on October 25, 2007


Hot Rod Race has been worked over a lot. An answer song, as pracowity points out.
posted by Leon at 4:56 AM on October 25, 2007


Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)" is a follow-up to David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

The Neatest "Back in the U.S.S.R." is a response to Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:56 AM on October 25, 2007


"Neatest?" Darn handwriting recognition. Should be "Beatles.'"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:58 AM on October 25, 2007


Harry Chapin wrote a sequel to Taxi called, oddly enough, Sequel.
posted by Lokheed at 5:02 AM on October 25, 2007


Two of the (IMHO) best songs by the Cardigans: And Then You Kissed Me (in Long Gone Before Daylight) and And The You Kissed Me II (in Super Extra Gravity, 2 years later).
posted by Iosephus at 5:04 AM on October 25, 2007


Hmm. Not inspired by, but referenced....

Jimmy Eat World - For Me This is Heaven

"The first star I see may not be a star"


Something Corporate - Konstantine

"It's to Jimmy Eat World, and those nights in my car
Where the first star I see may not be a star
I'm not your star
isn't that what you said
What you thought the song meant?"

posted by Phire at 5:07 AM on October 25, 2007


The-->Then

You'd think what with preview and all I'd be cured of my terminally clumsy typing, geez.
posted by Iosephus at 5:08 AM on October 25, 2007


Roxanne's Revenge was an answer to Roxanne, Roxanne by UTFO. There were others in the series as well.
posted by OmieWise at 5:24 AM on October 25, 2007


Close: Clem Snide - Nick Drake Tape ("That Nick Drake tape you loved, tonight it sounds so good")
posted by Leon at 5:32 AM on October 25, 2007


Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Are you Ready to be Heartbroken?" answered by "Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken" by Scottish band Camera Obscura - in regular rotation on my ipod playlists all thru Summer 2006.
posted by readery at 5:41 AM on October 25, 2007


They Might Be Giants "The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight): "In the spaceship, the silver spaceship, the lion waves goodbye..."

OMD "Dream of Me" based on Barry White's "Love's Theme": "I had an idea, based on a love theme..."

This is a bit more of a stretch, but "Singing in My Sleep" by Semisonic references a few different songs, as the singer listens to them purportedly on a mixtape. Also references "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and a couple others are "Did You Ever Look So Nice" by The Samples and Blondie's "Heart of Glass."
posted by artifarce at 6:04 AM on October 25, 2007


Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" was answered by the Spokesmen's "Dawn of Correction."
posted by sjl7678 at 6:30 AM on October 25, 2007


Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly with His Song" was about Don McLean performing the song "Empty Chairs". At least according to Wikipedia.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 6:31 AM on October 25, 2007


do song inspired by an album count?

george harrison's wonderwall music -> oasis' wonderwall
posted by phil at 6:31 AM on October 25, 2007


Taking Back Sunday's "There's No 'I' in 'Team'" is a response to Brand New's "Seventy Times 7".

Re: "Seventy Times 7":
The was written about a falling out between best friends. [Brand New] Lead singer Jesse Lacey had been best friends with then Taking Back Sunday guitarist/singer John Nolan (who has left the band) since grade school. Lacey's girlfriend at the time cheated on him with Nolan. John called Jesse, and the last words that Jesse spoke to him were, "You're as subtle as a brick on the small of my back so lets end this call and end this conversation" and hung up. That was the last time they spoke and then years later Brand New added it as lyrics to their song "Seventy Times 7" which is about what happened and his feelings toward Nolan. Taking Back Sunday then came out with the song "There's No 'I' In Team," which expresses John's side of the story. In "There's No 'I' In Team," he says, "What I can't regret, can't you just forget it?" which shows how he wants to get past was happened between them. --songfacts
posted by sprocket87 at 6:43 AM on October 25, 2007


Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" from Scary Monsters is about "Space Oddity".
posted by fidelity at 6:45 AM on October 25, 2007


Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land was written in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America".
posted by backwards guitar at 6:45 AM on October 25, 2007


John Cale's "I Keep A Close Watch" was clearly inspired by Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line".
posted by space2k at 6:47 AM on October 25, 2007


Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" ("I want you/I need you/But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you") refers to Elvis Presley's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You."

The Beatles' "Glass Onion" refers to "Strawberry Fields Forever," "I Am the Walrus," "Lady Madonna," "The Fool on the Hill," and "Fixing a Hole."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on October 25, 2007


"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which I always attributed to Kitty Wells (but according to Wikipedia was written by J.D. Miller) was a response to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life."
posted by dan g. at 7:04 AM on October 25, 2007


Elliott Smith's Clementine seems to be inspired by the old folk song Oh My Darlin Clementine. Discussion here.

Incidentally, Clementine is name of Kate Winslet's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I always thought was cool... you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.
posted by tiny crocodile at 7:05 AM on October 25, 2007


Liz Pahir's album Exile in Guyville is a response to the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:17 AM on October 25, 2007


The Gym Class Heroes sing Taxi Driver name-drops as many bands as possible in two minutes:
I took cutie for a ride in my deathcab
She tipped me with a kiss I dropped her off at the meth lab
Before she left she made a dashboard confessional
And spilled her guts in cursive but whats worse is
I could still see her bright eyes like sunny day real estate . . .
(and so on.)
posted by chrisamiller at 7:20 AM on October 25, 2007


Sarah Jones's lyrics for DJ Vadim's Your Revolution is a response to the misogyny in popular Hip Hop, and she quotes particular lyrics (and apes the voices of) some of the rappers she's responding to. Ironically, her song was targeted by the FCC as vulgar, whereas the songs she was responding to were let slide.
posted by twoporedomain at 7:25 AM on October 25, 2007


Tenacious D - Tribute
posted by neilkod at 7:33 AM on October 25, 2007


Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight (featuring Ronnie Spector)" cites The Ronettes "Be My Baby" in the chorus.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:41 AM on October 25, 2007


And ... Golden Earring's "Radar Love" has this lyric in the second verse:

The radio's playing some forgotten song
Brenda Lee's "Coming on Strong"

posted by grabbingsand at 7:45 AM on October 25, 2007


One more ... and this is a bit of a stretch ... but I've always held fast to the idea that Queen's "Innuendo" is an intentional homage to Yes's "Awaken," and not just because the Queen track includes a Steve Howe acoustic solo.

Of course, I might be totally wrong and Robert Plant is right in associating "Innuendo" with "Kashmir," instead.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:57 AM on October 25, 2007


Sarah Jones's lyrics for DJ Vadim's Your Revolution is a response to the misogyny in popular Hip Hop, and she quotes particular lyrics (and apes the voices of) some of the rappers she's responding to. Ironically, her song was targeted by the FCC as vulgar, whereas the songs she was responding to were let slide.

Plus the Gil-Scott Heron references.
posted by mkb at 7:59 AM on October 25, 2007


R.E.M.'s Me in Honey is the male counterpoint to 10,000 Maniacs' Eat for Two.
posted by Ruki at 8:00 AM on October 25, 2007


Built to Spill's You Were Right is a response to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, among other songs.
posted by otolith at 8:01 AM on October 25, 2007


Frank Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money is an obvious response to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
posted by killuglyradio at 8:01 AM on October 25, 2007


Christina Aguilera did a song in response to Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady".
posted by mazienh at 8:04 AM on October 25, 2007


Arjuna Greist's "Mariana" is a response/sequel/retelling from the other character's perspective of Rose Polenzani's "Olga's Birthday."
[disclosure: I know Arjuna Greist and contributed to a track on the "Odd Numbers" album.]
posted by bassjump at 8:25 AM on October 25, 2007


The narrator in Marty Robbins' "El Paso City" mentions having heard a song "About a Texas cowboy and a girl
And a little place called Rosa's where he used to go and watch this beauty whirl." That's a reference to Robbin's earlier song, "El Paso." As he reflects on it while flying over the city, he seems to identify strongly with the cowboy in the story, knowing things about the exact trail he took, without knowing how he could know that. He thinks that maybe he himself was the cowboy in a previous life.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:25 AM on October 25, 2007


I think Elliott Smith's Miss Misery references "Cathy's Clown" but I don't know who did Cathy's Clown.

I don't Fit into His Indie Scene by Mary Lou Lord names scores of indie bands. She changes it to suit whatever is currently hip. It's pretty cool.
posted by sully75 at 9:11 AM on October 25, 2007


Kirsty Maccoll's wonderful song, "Caroline" is a response to Dolly Parton's "Jolene".

Screeching Weasel references Green Day's "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?" in the song "I Wrote Holden Caufield" from thier 1994 LP, How to Make Enemies and Irritate People
posted by melorama at 9:14 AM on October 25, 2007


Okkervil River did an (awesome) album and EP inspired by Tim Hardin's Black Sheep Boy.

They also have a song on their newest album called Plus Ones that references a bunch of other numerically-themed songs.
posted by heeeraldo at 9:17 AM on October 25, 2007


Stray Cats: Gene and Eddie

"... Be Bop a Lula, Summertime Blues!"

Perhaps inspired by Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent or the era more than the songs themselves, but is a pastiche of the lyrics from a hearty helping of both artists' songs.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:11 AM on October 25, 2007


Seconding Tenacious D's Tribute. It's like the Platonic ideal of a song about another song.
posted by speedo at 10:16 AM on October 25, 2007


"It's My Life" by Bon Jovi name checks the couple from "Livin' on a Prayer:"

"here's to the ones who stood their ground;
To Tommy and Gina who never backed down..."

in response to LOAP's:

"Tommy used to work on the docks..."
"Gina works the diner all day..."
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:16 AM on October 25, 2007


The song "Ms June" by Snowglobe responds to/musically reprises the album "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel.
posted by ROTFL at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2007


Dead Kennedys, "I Fought the Law"
Drinkin’ beer in the hot sun
I fought the law and I won

posted by citron at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2007


There was a response to Leader of the Pack in the late 50's - I don't remember what it was called.
posted by kdern at 10:49 AM on October 25, 2007


The Jeffrey Lewis song "Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" is based on Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2". It's pretty fantastic.

if i was leonard cohen
or some others song writing master
i 'd know to first get the oral sex
and then write the song after

posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 10:55 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nick Lowe wrote "All Men are Liars" in response to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." As Lowe put it:

Do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit that was ghastly.
He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down.
Well I’m here to tell ya that Dick’s a clown
Though he was just a boy when he made that vow.
I’d bet it all that he knows by now.

This might have been the very first instance of "rickrolling."
posted by Sculthorpe at 11:00 AM on October 25, 2007


I think Elliott Smith's Miss Misery references "Cathy's Clown" but I don't know who did Cathy's Clown.
Don't know where "Cathy's Clown" originates from either, but the reference Elliott Smith makes comes from "Waltz #2" (XO album) - not Miss Misery.
posted by killuglyradio at 11:05 AM on October 25, 2007


"Open All Night" and "Mr. State Trooper" by Bruce Springsteen on Nebraska are in many ways responses to each other. They share many lyrics, but the emotional tone of the songs are close to opposite.
posted by OmieWise at 11:12 AM on October 25, 2007


Dead Kennedys Sonny Curtis, "I Fought the Law." Curtis' "The Real Buddy Holly Story" is a response to the movie The Buddy Holly Story.

Don't know where 'Cathy's Clown' originates from either
The Everly Brothers
posted by kirkaracha at 12:26 PM on October 25, 2007


Metric wrote a song called Monster Hospital, which has the following lines:

I fought the war,
I fought the war,
I fought the war,
but the war won.

I fought the war,
I fought the war,
I fought the war,
but the war won't stop for the love of God.

As Wikipedia puts it: The song makes reference to Bobby Fuller and the chorus tributes his hit song I Fought the Law replacing "Law" with "War".
posted by stackhaus23 at 12:42 PM on October 25, 2007


Lots of answer songs, mostly from the '60s. The Temptations' "My Girl" is a response to Mary Wells' "My Guy" (Smokey Robinson wrote both songs). Bob Dylan's "4th Time Around" is a response to The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."

Bob Seger's "The Ballad of the Yellow Beret" is a response to Barry Sadler's "The Ballad of the Green Berets."

Josephine XIII's "Down on the Funny Farm (Oy Vey)" is a response to Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!"

The Kinks' "Destroyer" follows up on "Lola."

Billy Bragg sings "War! What is it good for? It's good for business" in "North Sea Bubble."

I fought the law and I won
I need to read more closely in future.

posted by kirkaracha at 12:47 PM on October 25, 2007


Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama called out Neil Young's Alabama and Southern Man.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:15 PM on October 25, 2007


I love these answers -- learning a lot. Like some of the others, I can think of lots of examples of meta-inspired songs (like "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," or all the songs about love songs/sad songs), but sadly they don't count.

Here's an in-betweener: "Please Mister Please," which reacts specifically to "B-17." A nickel to anyone who can identify what song that was.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2007


Ice Cube's No Vaseline was written in response to NWA's 100 Miles and Runnin' and Real Niggaz.

Tweety Bird Loc's "Fuck The South Bronx (Nigga This Is Compton)" was a response to Tim Dog's Fuck Compton.
posted by ignignokt at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2007


Ooh! "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine."

Unclear on the concept, yours truly,
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:50 PM on October 25, 2007


Sam Cooke recorded "Bring It On Home to Me." Carla Thomas then recorded "I'll Bring It On Home to You." That's the most direct response I can think of that hasn't been given.

Jimmy Eat World's "Authority Song" was (at least somewhat) inspired by John Cougar Mellencamp's song of the same title / playing it on the jukebox. (The same song also name-checks the Jesus and Mary Chain album "Automatic".)

Come to think of it, Jimmy Eat World's "Praise Chorus" directly, well, praises Tommy James & The Shondells - Crimson & Clover, Madness - Our House, They Might Be Giants - Don't Let's Start... and one other I'm forgetting.

Also, sculthorpe, I'm impressed / happy somebody else thought of that Nick Lowe song. Proto-rickrolling, indeed.
posted by theoddball at 3:40 PM on October 25, 2007


Black Sheep Boy and Black Sheep Boy (Appendix) by Okkervil River, is an entire concept album that is a response to Tim Hardin's song "Black Sheep Boy".
posted by robotot at 3:43 PM on October 25, 2007


'Please Mister Please,' which reacts specifically to 'B-17.' A nickel to anyone who can identify what song that was.

"B-17" isn't the title of the song, it's the song's position on the jukebox.
In the corner of the bar there stands a jukebox
With the best of country music, old and new
You can hear your five selections for a quarter
And somebody else's songs when your's are through

I got good Kentucky whiskey on the counter
And my friends around to help me ease the pain
'Til some button-pushing cowboy plays that love song
And here I am just missing you again

Please, Mister, please, don't play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it's over
Please, Mister, please, if you know what I mean
I don't ever wanna hear that song again.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:46 PM on October 25, 2007


The Barenaked Ladies wrote You Can Be My Yoko Ono, and Dar Williams wrote I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono. I was totally sure they were linked... but Dar denies it. Just a coincidence, apparently.
posted by web-goddess at 4:30 PM on October 25, 2007


The song On The Radio by Regina Spektor references the song November Rain by Guns N' Roses.

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song
We listened to it twice
'Cause the DJ was asleep

posted by howiamdifferent at 4:38 PM on October 25, 2007


kirkaracha,

Got that. "What song that was" meant "what song that was that was identified by its position on the jukebox"; the nickel is still yours for the taking.

Of course, if the B-52s had covered a song called "B-17," I would have bought it.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:53 PM on October 25, 2007


...realizing way too late that I misspelled "Phair."
posted by kitty teeth at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2007


The Ben Folds song "Fred Jones Part 2" is a sequel of sorts to the Ben Folds Five song "Cigarette."
posted by Artnchicken at 9:51 PM on October 25, 2007


Travis's "Writing to Reach You" asks, "the radio keeps playing all the usual: / what's a wonderwall, anyway?"

There are three Pearl Jam songs known as the Mamasan Trilogy: "Alive" recounts sexual abuse by a mother, "Once" is about a serial killer, and "Footsteps" is from death row.
posted by robcorr at 1:10 AM on October 26, 2007


B-17 was "As Time Goes By"
posted by pracowity at 3:07 AM on October 26, 2007


Maybe B-17 was "It's the Same Old Song."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:08 AM on October 26, 2007


Britney Spears's "Stronger" references "Baby One More Time" - "my loneliness ain't killing me no more, I'm, I'm stronger"
posted by divabat at 2:30 PM on October 27, 2007


Jeanne Black's "He'll Have to Stay" was an answer to the Jim Reeves classic "He'll Have to Go."

The Guess Who's "When the Band Was Singin' 'Shakin' All Over'" refers to the first hit song the group had under that name.
posted by evilcolonel at 6:19 PM on October 27, 2007


OK GO's "A Good Idea At The Time" replies to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil"
posted by Monster_Zero at 8:13 PM on October 27, 2007


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