Singers who listen to other songs?
September 11, 2009 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs in which the singer specifically references listening to another musician, song or album. Please help?

I don't want songs about singers or songs about songs and I don't even want songs that reference seeing other musicians in concert or on stage.
Three examples:
* "Thrift Store Chair" by Everclear has the line "Gonna put a John Prine record on"
* "Runnin' Down a Dream" by Tom Petty has the line "me and Del were singin' Little Runaway" which works because he is in the car listening to the radio, not in a studio singing along with Del Shannon in person.
* "Brian Wilson" by Barenaked Ladies works only because of the line "Just listenin' and re-listenin' to Smiley Smile" not because it mentions Brian Wilson.

I'm not looking for songs that simply mention other musicians or songs. There has to be active listening involved.

I know the examples I gave are very middle-of-the-road artists, but I'm interested in anything you can think of from any genre that fits the bill.
Thanks so much for any help you can give!
posted by Brody's chum to Media & Arts (142 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Here It Goes Again" - OK Go

"Throw on your clothes, the second side of Surfer Rosa/And you leave me with my jaw on the floor"
posted by Lucinda at 1:20 PM on September 11, 2009


The Dismemberment Plan - "Ice of Boston":

Woke up at 3 a.m. 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 booknerd at 1:20 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Band, Up On Cripple Creek

Now me and my mate were back at the shack
We had Spike Jones on the box
She said, "I can't take the way he sings
But I love to hear him talk"

posted by bondcliff at 1:21 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gomez, Charlie Patton Songs:

I spend a lifetime
trying to decipher
Charley Patton Songs.

I don't know why I bother,
even if I think it's right,
it always comes out wrong.
posted by grateful at 1:23 PM on September 11, 2009


Kid Rock - All Summer Long

And we were trying different things
And we were smoking funny things
Making love down by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle
Not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long

posted by specialagentwebb at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2009


American Beat - the Fleshtones; Sweeping the Nation - Spearmint. (I'll be back later with more.)
posted by goml at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2009


Sorry. I didn't read the more inside part.
posted by goml at 1:25 PM on September 11, 2009


Bruce Springseen's Thunder Road.

The screen door slams
Marys dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy orbison singing for the lonely
Hey thats me and I want you only

Dont turn me home again
I just cant face myself alone again
Dont run back inside
Darling you know just what Im here for
So youre scared and youre thinking
That maybe we aint that young anymore
Show a little faith, theres magic in the night
You aint a beauty, but hey youre alright
Oh and thats alright with me


Great lyrics BTW
posted by murrey at 1:25 PM on September 11, 2009


Cansei de Ser Sexy, Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above.
posted by hnnrs at 1:26 PM on September 11, 2009


NOFX - "I'm a huge fan of Bad Religion" 'i bought Suffer, then I bought a thesaurus'
Weezer - "Heart Songs" 'my roomate put a brand new record on, had a baby on it, he was naked on it'
Decsendents _ "Catlina" 'throw on my Doors tape,, throw on my Beatles tape'
posted by oblio_one at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2009


Something Corporate's Konstantine references Jimmy Eat World's For Me This is Heaven:

It's to Jimmy Eat World
and those nights in my car
when the first star you see
may not be a star
im not your star
isnt that what you said
what you thought this song meant

posted by axiom at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Weezer's El Scorcho has a bonus layer - the "narrator" is reading a girl's diary, where she mentions "Listening to Cio-Cio San/Fall in love all over again."
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on September 11, 2009


I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles

John Lennon, "God"
posted by dov at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2009


Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd:

Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow
posted by torquemaniac at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2009


"Surrender", Cheap Trick

Then I woke up mom and dad rolling on the couch
rolling numbers, rock and roll
got my KISS records out


"Radar Love", Golden Earring

Radio plays forgotten song
Brenda Lee coming in strong


"Les Etoiles Secretes", Ida (Like "Brian Wilson", the song is the name of the band referenced (but in French), but isn't about the band per se)

Driving home in your car
Listening to the Secret Stars
Can't believe how great they are
posted by dirtdirt at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2009


Pavement: Stereo

Now 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
and you're my fact checkin' cuz

I don't know if this falls within your guidelines or not, because they're talking about listening to another singer, but listening to him talk as compared to listening to him sing. Sorry if it's not what you're looking for.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2009


Better than Ezra, Extra Ordinary

And just like that AC/DC song
Come on baby, shake me all night long

. . . .

And it's cold inside
But just like that Barenaked Ladies' song
I'm hot like wasabi when I'm next to your body
posted by ajr at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2009


Of course I'll give the Counting Crows answer.

Counting Crows - Monkey

Got no where but home to go
Got Ben Folds on my radio right now

posted by ALongDecember at 1:31 PM on September 11, 2009


Lucinda Williams - "Righteously" - "Flirt with me, don't keep hurtin' me, don't cause me pain, be my lover don't play no game, just play me John Coltrane"

Replacements - "Alex Chilton"
posted by baxter_ilion at 1:31 PM on September 11, 2009


Art Brut: The Replacements

"I can't believe I've only just discovered The Replacements, how have I only just discovered The Replacements?"
posted by Think_Long at 1:32 PM on September 11, 2009


Tom Waits - Warm Beer & Cold Women
"And the band's playin' somethin' by Tammy Wynette
And the drinks are on me tonight"
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:32 PM on September 11, 2009


Warren Zevon, "Play It All Night Long":

"Sweet home Alabama"
Play that dead band's song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long

posted by EarBucket at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2009


Hootie and the Blowfish: Only Wanna Be With You

Put on a little Dylan
Sitting on a fence
I say that line is great
You ask me what I meant by
said I shot a man named gray
Took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks
And when she died it came to me
I cant help it if I'm lucky
I only wanna be with you
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2009


Just before we go, I'd like to mention Junior Wells
We stole his thing from him, and he from someone else


Tighten Up Your Wig - Steppenwolf.

(And the song was a direct yoink, other than the lyrics.)
posted by Danf at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2009


Nashville Pussy's I'm So High

I'm sitting on top of everywhere
Blasting a Temptations tune
Gonna get wasted in the stratosphere
And take a shit on the moon

Pitboss's modified Boys of Summer (itself a Don Henley cover, replacing Henley's nostalgia for Pitboss's nostalgia about the Cleveland, OH hardcore scene)

Out at the show tonight I saw a Ringworm sticker
On a girl's backpack
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2009


I just learned there's a band called Vampire Weekend that did a song called "Cape Cod Kwassa kwassa", in which the lyrics reference Peter Gabriel:

"But this feels so unnatural/Peter Gabriel too...."

The punch line: Peter Gabriel recently did a cover of the song for a bit of fun, and changed the lyric to "It feels so unnatural/to sing your own name..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm singing this borrowed tune
I took from the Rolling Stones
Alone in this empty room
Too wasted to write my own


-Neil Young
posted by Danf at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, duh -- an obvious choice: Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening

Steely Dan - Whatcha Did
posted by Danf at 1:36 PM on September 11, 2009


*ahem* Miley Cyrus, Party in the USA


My tummy’s turnin’ and I’m feelin’ kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I’m nervous
That’s when the taxi man turned on the radio
And the Jay-Z song was on
And the Jay-Z song was on
And the Jay-Z song was on

...

My tummy’s turnin’ and I’m feelin’ kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I’m nervous
That’s when the DJ dropped my favorite tune
And the Britney song was on
And the Britney song was on
And the Britney song was on
posted by oinopaponton at 1:36 PM on September 11, 2009


Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw

When you think: Tim McGraw,
I hope you think my favorite song
...
When you think Tim McGraw,
I hope you think of me

posted by signal at 1:38 PM on September 11, 2009


Snow Patrol references listening to Sufjan's Steven's Chicago in their song 'Hands Open'

Put Sufjan Stevens on, and we'll play your favorite song,
Chicago bursts to life in your sweet smile remembers you
My hands open and my eyes open, I just keep hoping that your heart opens.

posted by derivation at 1:39 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think there was a song by the execrable Snow Patrol that references listening to Sufjan Stevens, but I'd have to ask Mrs Morte...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2009


Using your criteria a little loosely, Barenaked Ladies' "In the Car":

A book-and-record love,
we sat and read our books,
between those longing looks,
compounded by our fear,
My tongue inside her ear,
my tongue inside her
in the basement of her mother's
house where she once taped the
first three sides of Sandinista! for my car


(this song also makes a funny circular reference to the girl referenced listening to the song in her car with her new husband and she turns to him and says "I think that's me")
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2009


Built To Spill, "You Were Right"
Drive-By Truckers, "Let There Be Rock" (this song is EXACTLY what you are looking for)
Nirvana, that song whose name escapes me that references Leonard Cohen
Minutemen, "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs"
Van Morrison, "Jackie Wilson Said"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hehehe... how about that?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2009


The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division


Let's dance to Joy Division,
And celebrate the irony,
Everything is going wrong,
But we're so happy,
Let's dance to Joy Division,
And raise our glass to the ceiling,
'Cos this could all go so wrong,
But we're so happy,
Yeah we're so happy.

posted by djgh at 1:41 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


And we turned on ZZ Top, turn it up real loud
I used to think you were strong
I used to think you were proud
I used to think that nothing could go wrong


-Metal Firecracker

We used to drive
Thru Lafayette and Baton Rouge
In a yellow Camino
Listening to Howling Wolf
He liked to stop in Lake Charles
Cause that's the place that he loved


-Lake Charles

Both by Lucinda Williams
posted by Danf at 1:44 PM on September 11, 2009


I think American Pie would count, even though the narrator is listening to the good ol' boys singing "This'll be the day that I die" and not Buddy Holly.

Others;

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda by the Pogues

"True" by Spandau Ballet "listening to Marvin [Gaye] all night long"
posted by arniec at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2009


Ooops, I didn't read the inside part either. So forget John, here comes Yves Montand:

J'avais quinze ans
Et j'écoutais
Duke Ellington, Duke Elling
Duke Ellington

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw81ab1vlR0
posted by dov at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2009


Elliott Smith - Baby Britain

''The radio was playing Crimson & Clover'' (a song by Tommy James and the Shondells)
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:46 PM on September 11, 2009


Mariah Carey, in her song "We Belong Together", references listening to the radio and hearing a Bobby Womack lyric, "If you think you're lonely now...," which is from his song of the same name, "If You Think You're Lonely Now."
posted by fuse theorem at 1:49 PM on September 11, 2009


Camera Obscura :"Dory Previn"

"How I adore you Dory Previn
I Turned you up to eleven for the bands ears to bleed"
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 PM on September 11, 2009


Los Campesinos! - The International Tweexcore Underground - quite a few in the chorus
Sean Na Na - Princess and the Pony - Wire "Outdoor Miner"
posted by ktrey at 1:52 PM on September 11, 2009


We Belong Together - Mariah Carey

I can't sleep at night when you are on my mind
Bobby Womack's on the radio saying to me:
"If you think you're lonely now"
Wait a minute this is too deep (too deep)
I gotta change the station so I turn the dial
Trying to catch a break and then I hear Babyface:
"I only think of you" and it's breaking my heart
I'm trying to keep it together but I'm falling apart

posted by nooneyouknow at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2009


Mountain Goats - Scotch Grove
"On the way home from the party,
Neither one of us said a word.
Leann Rimes on the car stereo
Sang that song you know I hate.
The one about the blackbird"
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:56 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Piebald song "Location is Everything" mentions listening to Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin.
posted by saladin at 1:56 PM on September 11, 2009


Carnivore - Angry Neurotic Catholics

I went down into my basement
Confused and depressed
Put Black Sabbath on
Razor blade in hand
A Wilkinson I think
Ten slashes on each arm
posted by The Straightener at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2009


Stavesacre, "Anna Thema"

Automolech, they sing
A nation embracing and praising its sin disease
Time this scattered few took the lead
Bring the jawbone to these Philistines


Automoloch is the title of a 1986 album by The Lead
Sin Disease is the title of a 1990 album by Scaterd Few
Jawboneofanass is the title of a 1994 album by Scaterd Few

Definitely more cryptic than the other references people have been posting here... it's probably better considered an Easter egg for people who were involved in the Christian punk/hardcore scene in California in the 80's. (Stavesacre was kind of a "supergroup" made of people from this scene.)
posted by relucent at 2:01 PM on September 11, 2009


Georges Brassens, "Sur mon phono":

Sur mon phono
Mon bon vieux phono
Sans me déranger
Je peux écouter
Le premier numéro
De Chevalier


i.e., I can listen to Maurice Chevalier's first song on my phonograph. There are other references to French musicians there, too.
posted by nasreddin at 2:02 PM on September 11, 2009


If you're dancing to a song, you're listening to it, right? If that works for you, then Stars' "Reunion" contains a reference to Soft Cell (Well, Tainted Love's too fast to dance to/So lets leave them all behind).
posted by thisjax at 2:08 PM on September 11, 2009


Cake's "Frank Sinatra".
posted by browse at 2:11 PM on September 11, 2009


Prince's "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" - from Sign O' The Times - refers to listening to Joni Mitchell's "Help Me".

trivia: Joni was Prince's invited guest at the the Warner Bros. meeting when he first played Around The World In A Day for them.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:11 PM on September 11, 2009


Jimmy Eat World's "The Authority Song" references John Mellencamp's "Authority Song" in the first couple of lines: It's how the hustle goes, see what the jukebox knows / Put my last quarter on, I play "Authority Song"
posted by cobwebberies at 2:12 PM on September 11, 2009


The Who - You Better You Bet:

I got your body right now on my mind and I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T-Rex.
posted by Knappster at 2:12 PM on September 11, 2009


Per Second Second - The Wrens

8-track of crimson & clover
Drove playing it over and over

posted by EvaDestruction at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2009


Sheryl Crow's You're an Original: "Deadly in the sack, Groovin' to the Clash on some kind of wasted weekend."

Everclear also sang "AM Radio", which says "I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come to Santa Monica and teach me to play" and talks about the radio, but has no explicit songs mentioned, that I can recall.
posted by soelo at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2009


Descendents, "Catalina"

i'll steal some gas
fix my motor
put on my beatles tape
and get you out of my head

posted by Joe Beese at 2:14 PM on September 11, 2009


Bob Dylan - Highlands:

I'm listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound
Someone's always yelling turn it down

posted by Knappster at 2:15 PM on September 11, 2009


Dead Milkmen, "Punk Rock Girl" (a two-fer!)

And someone played a Beach Boys song
On the jukebox
It was "California Dreamin'"
So we started screamin'
"On such a winter's day" ...

And security guards trailed us
To a record shop
We asked for Mojo Nixon
They said "He don't work here"
We said "If you don't got Mojo Nixon
Then your store could use some fixin'"

posted by Joe Beese at 2:16 PM on September 11, 2009


Another Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"

Hey Nineteen
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember the Queen of Soul

posted by Joe Beese at 2:17 PM on September 11, 2009


Yo La Tengo - Big Day Coming

"We can play a Stones song, sitting on a fence/And it'll sound pretty good, til I forget how it ends"
posted by hydrophonic at 2:18 PM on September 11, 2009


The Mountain Goats - My Favorite Things: "Champagne bubbled up through the neck of the bottle, And sweet silence came out through the radio. It was John Coltrane. God damn it, I love John Coltrane!"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:20 PM on September 11, 2009


Randy Newman, The Story of a Rock and Roll Band

They were six fine English boys
Who knew each other in Birmingham
They bought a drum and guitar
Started a rock-roll band

And Johnny played little violin
And Bobby Joe played the big violin
The one that stands on the floor
They were all in the rock-roll band

Their first song sounded like this
Please get me a witness
Please get me a witness

Right off, they needed a name
Someone said, "How 'bout the Renegades ?"
Johnny said, "Well I don't know.
I prefer E.L.O."

I love their "Mr. Blue Skies"
Almost my favorite is "Turn to Stone"
And how 'bout "Telephone Line"?
I love that E.L.O.

posted by timeistight at 2:21 PM on September 11, 2009


Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" refers obliquely to listening to, I infer, Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:22 PM on September 11, 2009


"It's Been a While Since I've Been Your Man" by Matthew Good references listening to Led Zeppelin IV.
posted by oaf at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2009


Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" references T-Rex.
Yeah, yeah...written by Bowie
posted by Thorzdad at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2009


Still more Dan:

Savoy sides presents a new saxophone sensation
It's Parker's band with a smooth style of syncopation
Kansas City born and growing
You won't believe what the boys are blowing
You got to come on man
And take a piece of Mister Parker's band

posted by timeistight at 2:25 PM on September 11, 2009


Also, MtH reference both the Beatles and the Stones in the same song...
"And my brothers back at home with his beatles and his stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff"

posted by Thorzdad at 2:26 PM on September 11, 2009


Even more from Donald Fagen: New Frontier

I hear you're mad about Brubeck
I like your eyes, I like him too
He's an artist, a pioneer
We've got to have some music on the new frontier

posted by timeistight at 2:32 PM on September 11, 2009


Here's a fun one--Black-Eyed Peas & Macy Gray, "Request + Line" (the entire song is completely relevant):

Turn table lets bless me on my stereo
Play my favorite song on my stereo
Like Macy Gray, Roots, and D'Angelo
Mos Def, Les Nubians, and De La Soul
I like them cuts with the soul and original
Never afraid to be creative on your radio

posted by dlugoczaj at 2:33 PM on September 11, 2009


Regina Spektor's "On the Radio":

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song...

And on the radio
You hear November Rain
That solo's awful long
But it's a good refrain

posted by 23skidoo at 2:34 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, I get pulled away from composing the post for a few minutes and on preview everyone else has taken the songs I was going to bring up. A couple of asides, though:

torquemaniac's observation about "Sweet Home Alabama":

Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow


I have read that Neil Young got interviewed when the song was on the charts and was asked how he felt about being attacked by name in a top ten song. His response was to the effect of: "When I first heard the song, I liked the way they played their guitars. Then I head my name and thought, 'Hey, this is pretty cool.'"

knappster's mention of "You Better You Bet":

I got your body right now on my mind and I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T-Rex.

This song is arguably a self-link for The Who, as the next line as "and who's next?" or possibly "and Who's Next".

Does Dire Straits' mention of "the song about the sweet lovin' woman... [and] the song about the knife" qualify?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:36 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together"

I can't sleep at night
When you're all on my mind
Bobby Womack's on the radio
Singing to me
'If you think you're lonely now'
Wait a minute
This is too deep
I gotta change the station
So I turn the dial
Trying to catch a break
And then I hear Babyface

posted by mittenedsex at 2:36 PM on September 11, 2009


The awesome song "Telephone" by the Stratford 4:

I called my mother on the telephone
Said "You think it's all right on nights when I'm home
I sit in the dark and I kinda get stoned
Just listenin' to the radio?"

She said "You're old enough now,
I cannot tell you what to do.
It all depends on what you're listening to."
I said "Spacemen 3, Primal Scream, and T Rex,
Belle & Sebastian, and The Bunnymen."

When I was 22, I was a lot like you.
When I was 22, I was a lot like you.

I can hear her smile at the end of the line.
She said, "Son, you're gonna be just fine.
But don't forget Bob Dylan, and don't forget the Stones,
And don't spend Saturday night all alone."

posted by Bookhouse at 2:38 PM on September 11, 2009


Lloyd Cole references listening to Arthur Lee records in Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?
posted by pasici at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2009


Prince's The Ballad of Dorothy Parker:

"Oh, my favorite song" she said, and it was Joni singin', "help me I think I'm falling, in love too fast"...
posted by serazin at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2009


Oops! Joe Beese got it already
posted by serazin at 2:43 PM on September 11, 2009


Part of Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2" seems to be set in a karaoke bar, hearing a former couple passive-aggressively sing "Cathy's Clown" and "You're No Good" to one another.
posted by lisa g at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


John Mellencamps Ain't Even Done With The Night:

"You've got your hands in my back pocket
And Sam Cooke singin' on the radio".

Neil Youngs "From Hank to Hendrix":

From Hank to Hendrix
I walked these streets with you
Here I am with this old guitar
Doin' what I do.

snip

From Marilyn to Madonna
I always loved your smile
Now we're headed
for the big divorce
California-style.
posted by jara1953 at 2:50 PM on September 11, 2009


Rancid- The War's End:

Little Sammy was a punk rocker
you know his mother never understood him
went to his room and smashed his Billy Bragg record
didn't want him to hear that communist lecture
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:56 PM on September 11, 2009


Maybe this is a bit obscure, but Kurt Elling's vocalese in Dolores' Dream contains the following lyric in which he mentions listening to Chicago saxaphonist Von Freeman while driving:

What with the day time on the lamb - jumped in my car, Uptown to scram.
Popped in a great Von Freeman jam and the coffee hit. Bam!
We hit a Jazz club called, 'The Mill'.
Dig it! My second domicile.
We had a great time hanging, until
posted by crLLC at 2:57 PM on September 11, 2009


Counting Crows: Mr Jones

Mr. Jones and me stumbling through the barrio
Yeah we star at the beautiful women
"She's perfect for you, Man, there's got to be somebody for me."
I want to be Bob Dylan
Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky
When everybody loves you, son, that's just about as funky as you can be

posted by NoraCharles at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2009


Kitty Wells' "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" is a response to a Hank Thompson song.

"As I sit here tonight the jukebox playin'/The tune about the wild side of life"
posted by hydrophonic at 3:06 PM on September 11, 2009


One of Bono's craftier poaches:

Heard a singer on the radio
Late last night
Said he's gonna kick the darkness
'Til it bleeds daylight

That's from U2's God Part II, but the reference is to Bruce Cockburn's Lovers in a Dangerous Time.
posted by Hellgirl at 3:07 PM on September 11, 2009


"Mix Tape" by Brand New:
"I'm sick of your tattoos, and the way you always criticize the Smiths, and Morrissey"
posted by KateHasQuestions at 3:09 PM on September 11, 2009


The Police: When The World Is Running Down

Turn on my V.C.R.
Same one I've had for years
James Brown on the T. A. M. I. show
Same tape I've had for years

posted by timeistight at 3:27 PM on September 11, 2009




Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Looking Out My Back Door"

"listening to Buck Owens"
posted by yclipse at 3:35 PM on September 11, 2009


Wow! You guys have given some great responses to this question. Thank you so much! Especially the people who understood what I was looking for.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my original question, or maybe some of you aren't reading the whole question before posting your answer:

I DON'T want songs that merely reference other musicians/albums/songs.

I only want songs in which the singer specifically mentions hearing a specific recorded song/album/musician.
They can be hearing it on a stereo, a jukebox, the radio (maybe even playing in their head) but not at a concert.
Songs that just mention other artists or songs aren't what I am seeking.

(Also, thank you to everyone who thought about mentioning that song by Reunion but didn't)
posted by Brody's chum at 3:37 PM on September 11, 2009


The best example I can think of is from obscure Minneapolis 90's band The Blue Up? The song is called "Blasting XTC" and it has what you describe, plus it sounds gorgeous. The whole song is about how she feels listening to XTC through her headphones.

Used copies of the record are cheap. It's a really, really good album and I highly recommend it.

http://www.amazon.com/Spool-Forka-Dish-Blue-Up/dp/B000008P25
posted by spacewaitress at 3:37 PM on September 11, 2009


Billy Bragg, "Levi Stubbs' Tears." "She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:45 PM on September 11, 2009


Oh, and for a more cheesy example, remember the song "When Smokey Sings"?

(this is from memory)

When Smokey sings
I hear violins
When Smokey sings
I hear everything
posted by spacewaitress at 3:47 PM on September 11, 2009


U2, "Angel of Harlem." "On BLS I heard the sound/Of an angel."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:48 PM on September 11, 2009


Mary Chapin Carpenter, "Down at the Twist and Shout". Mentions Beausoleil and Jolie Blonde:

But here up north it's a cold, cold rain
And there ain't no cure for my blues today
Except when the paper says Beausoleil
Is a-coming into town, baby let's go down

...
Well you learned to dance with your rock and roll
You learned to swing with a do-si-do
But you learn to love at the fais-do-do
When you hear a little Jolie Blon

posted by stevis23 at 3:52 PM on September 11, 2009


I don;t know if this quite fits your parameters but Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke is a tribute to Duke ellington that references other artists.
This is the second time in a week I've suggested Sir Duke in a AskMeFi thread. I just really love that song.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:54 PM on September 11, 2009


The-Dream "Kelly's 12 Play"
posted by citron at 3:56 PM on September 11, 2009


Nada Surf - "Blonde on Blonde"

I've got Blonde on Blonde
On my portable stereo

posted by afx237vi at 4:07 PM on September 11, 2009


Another Everclear, in their clever cover of Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl:

I hear a song makes me think of a girl I used to know
Hey, hey, hey
I sing along when I hear it on the radio.

posted by hooha at 4:12 PM on September 11, 2009


Johnny Rivers, "Summer Rain." "And the jukebox kept on playin'/Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Elvis Costello "Motel Matches." "Somewhere in the distance I can hear [George Jones'] 'Who Shot Sam.'"

Josh Rouse, "1972." "Grooving to a Carole King tune/Is it too late baby?/Is it too late?"

Peter Allen, "She Loves to Hear the Music." "As a child heard 'Mack the Knife.'"

Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen." "Poor old Johnny Ray/sounded sad upon the radio/broke a million hearts in mono."

Golden Earring, "Radar Love." "The radio's playing some forgotten song/Brenda Lee's 'Coming on Strong.'"

Cheap Trick, "Surrender." "Got my KISS records out."

Bowling for Soup, "1985." "She rocked out to Wham."

Billy Joel, "Goodnight Saigon." "We played our Doors tapes."

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Lookin' Out My Back Door." "A dinosaur victrola/listening to Buck Owens."

Badly Drawn Boy, "One Last Dance." "We'll listen to 'Thunder Road.'"

Bad Company, "Shooting Star." "Johnny was a schoolboy when he heard his first Beatles song/'Love Me Do,' I think it was from there it didn't take him long"

Better Than Ezra, "A Lifetime." "And that R.E.M. song was playing in my mind."

Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together." "Bobby Womack's on the radio/Singing to me"

Marc Cohn, "Listening to 'Levon.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 4:20 PM on September 11, 2009


And for a more obscure reference, there is Alabama 3, on its Exile On Coldharbour Lane, with a rant following its cover of John Prine's Sound of the Speed of Loneliness:

"Sweet goddamn pretty motherfucking country acid house music all night long!
Hank Williams on the jukebox, Jack Daniels in your hand, you ain't never goin' home."
posted by yclipse at 4:30 PM on September 11, 2009


I'm not looking for songs that simply mention other musicians or songs. There has to be active listening involved.

I dunno if this counts, but what about Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song?

I said to hank williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank williams hasnt answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the tower of song

The whole song is about being a singer, although he only actually hears him coughing, not making music... maybe too abstract. good song, tho'.
posted by mdn at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2009


Betty Davis's "They Say I'm Different." The whole song, really. Early into the song she talks about people she listened to, and people her family listened to, at home. Then she goes nuts name-dropping all the blues greats who influenced her.
posted by smorange at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2009


Jason Anderson - So Long

sitting in your sister's volvo
in the parking lot
of a chinese restaurant
in salem, new hampshire

listening to elliot smith
on compact disks
his third album sounds
pretty good, mhmm

posted by ludwig_van at 4:40 PM on September 11, 2009


I'm sipping Flor De Caña and lime juice, it's three a.m.
Blow a fruit fly off the rim of my glass
The radio's playing Superchunk and the friends of Dean Martinez


Bruce Cockburn, Last Night of the World

Well, I remember seein' some ad,
So I turned on my Conelrad.
But I didn't pay my Con Ed bill,
So the radio didn't work so well.
Turned on my player-
It was Rock-A-Day, Johnny singin',
"Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa,
Our Loves Are Gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah."


Bob Dylan, Talkin' World War III Blues
posted by klanawa at 4:44 PM on September 11, 2009


Listening to the Higsons by Robyn Hitchcock.

Listening to the Higsons
One night in November
And I thought I heard them singing
"I gotta let this hen out"...


(referencing the Higsons' hit (?), "Gotta Let This Heat Out," which actually does sound like they're saying "gotta let this hen out")
posted by ROTFL at 4:49 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dang, ROTFL beat me to Robyn Hitchcock, but there's Ted Leo & The Pharmacists "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone", which references lots of Two Tone artists like The Specials (Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Jerry Dammers) and Rhoda Dakar.
posted by tommasz at 5:28 PM on September 11, 2009


Cake - Meanwhile, Rick James, "meanwhile Rick James takes anew"
Tom Waits - $29.00, "got Pharoh on 8-track"
Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombone, "played 'Dirty Water' from a swordfishtrombone"
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:31 PM on September 11, 2009


Garth Brook's "Ain't Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up":

Drive down to the boondocks and park down by the creek,
Where it's George Strait real late and dancing cheek to cheek.

posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:26 PM on September 11, 2009


The Tragically Hip - "Put It Off" references the "Love Tara" album by Eric's Trip

I played Love Tara/by Eric's Trip/on the day that you were born

posted by davey_darling at 6:37 PM on September 11, 2009


Another Garth Brooks - "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)"

A worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze
Seem to be the only friends I've left at all


This line incidentally launched LeDoux's mainstream career.
posted by downing street memo at 7:05 PM on September 11, 2009


Damn, how did I let something as silly as work distract me from this thread?

If making out to music counts as listening to it, there's Backseat Goodbye's Summer Drive Song
Making out to mixtapes with Limbeck, Katrina and The Waves
Did I mention how I used to hate that song
Before I met that girl that was in love with The Beatles
And a bonus that doesn't fit your rules:
California girls wear their sunglasses at night
Turns outs that Tom was right:
All the vampires hang out on Ventura Boulevard
(Great underappreciated pop track, btw. Hooky as hell.)
posted by rokusan at 8:14 PM on September 11, 2009


The challenge of coming in here after 112 other people sniped all the easy ones, muttergrumblerassenfrassen...

Cowboy Junkies, Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning:
Lunchtime. I start to dial your number
Then I remember so I reach for something to smoke
And anyways I'd rather listen to Coltrane
Than go through all that shit again
Something about an afternoon spent doing nothing
Just listening to records and watching the sun falling.
A song I have posted here before for some other reason that I now forget. It has clever twists of rhetoric.
posted by rokusan at 8:26 PM on September 11, 2009


Peter, Paul and Mary dig the Mamas and the Papas.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 8:31 PM on September 11, 2009


In "Rip It Up" by Orange Juice, Edwyn Collins references the Buzzcocks when he sings, "My favorite song's entitled 'Boredom,' " and then plays the final riff from the aforementioned song.

Big Star's "Thirteen" includes the line, "Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black.' "

Also there was that Mary Lou Lord song, "His Indie World," which listed the following musicians/bands: Guided by Voices, Velocity Girl, Eric's Trip, Rocket Trip, Rancid, Rocket from the Crypt, Bikini Kill, Jenny Toomey, Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tsunami, Slant 6, Smog, Butterglory, the Silver Jews, Heavenly, Huggy Bear, Helium, Half Japanese, Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Superchunk, Doug Martsch, Lou Barlow, Calvin Johnson, Kim Gordon, and Kim Deal.

I can't imagine how many I'm missing.
posted by coffeeflavored at 8:54 PM on September 11, 2009


Oh! In the Magnetic Fields's "The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure," Stephin Merritt sings:

I'm just a great composer
And not a violent man
But I lost my composure
And I shot Ferdinand
Crying, "It's well and kosher
To say you don't understand
But this is for Holland-Dozier-Holland!

posted by coffeeflavored at 8:58 PM on September 11, 2009


Pet Shop Boys - I want to wake up.
I stood at the kitchen sink, my radio played
Songs like Tainted Love and Love is Strange
posted by dirm at 9:06 PM on September 11, 2009


And one more: A band called Spearmint had a single called "Scottish Pop" that referenced the following: The Secret Goldfish, Edwyn Collins, Nectarine No. 9, Bobby Gillespie, Stephen Pastel, Raymond McGinley, Adventures in Stereo, Emma Pollock, Stuart Murdoch, and Douglas T, whoever that is.
posted by coffeeflavored at 9:09 PM on September 11, 2009


Sparks:"When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'?"
So when do I get to sing 'my way'
When do I get to feel like Sinatra felt
When do I get to sing 'my way' in heaven or hell
So when do I get to do it 'my way'
When do I get to feel like Sid Vicious felt
When do I get to sing 'my way' in heaven or hell
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:28 PM on September 11, 2009


Travis "Writing to reach you"

Evryday I wake up and it's Sunday
Whatever's in my eye won't go away
The radio is playing all the usual
And what's a 'wonderwall' anyway?
posted by modernnomad at 9:54 PM on September 11, 2009


Well my first thought was Garth Brooks' Ain't Goin' Down, but here's another

Rancid - Roots Radicals

The radio was playin' Desmond Dekker was singin'
on the 43 bus as we climb up the hill

posted by cmgonzalez at 10:04 PM on September 11, 2009


311's song Come Original metions NOFX, Black Eyed Peas, Roni Size
posted by radioamy at 10:08 PM on September 11, 2009


In the Magnetic Fields' "How Fucking Romantic," the narrator is dancing to a Rogers and Hart tune, and not digging it.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:10 PM on September 11, 2009


Rings by Cymarron: "Got James Taylor on the stereo"
Miss You So Badly by Jimmy Buffett: "I got a head full of feelin' higher and an earful of Patsy Cline"
posted by joaquim at 10:27 PM on September 11, 2009


U2's live Bullet the Blue Sky (on Rattle and Hum), from the monologue bit:

"listening to John Coltrane and A Love Supreme"

Pogues "Fairytale of New York" has two references in a row:

" Sinatra was swingin, all the drunks they were singin',
We kissed on the corner then danced thru the night
And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay"
and the bells were ringing out for Christmas day.'"

posted by edverb at 10:28 PM on September 11, 2009


Nizlopi's JCB song has the line "...the engine rattles my bum like berserk
While we're singin, 'Don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work!' "


Jim's Big Ego's "Love Everybody" says "I get a doppio
at the Carberrys,
listen to Yo La Tengo
and XTC"

posted by slightlybewildered at 12:02 AM on September 12, 2009


And Ben Lee's "Catch my disease" says
They play Good Charlotte on the radio
and that's the way I like it
They play Sleepy Jackson on the radio
and that's the way I like it
and that's the way I like it
I hear Beyonce on the radio
and that's the way I like it
cos that's the way I like it
they don't play
me on the radio (whoo!)
and that's the way I like it

posted by slightlybewildered at 12:15 AM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Hold Steady's Girls Like Status references a number of bands/ songs:

she came back all fried and out of focus in a cool car crankin'...

It was song number three on John's last CD,
"I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me"
And it almost killed me
And song number four on that first D4
You want the scars but you don't want the war
Now that's just hardcore
These kids are clever to the core

posted by wandering steve at 12:59 AM on September 12, 2009


Dan Bern's song Chick Singers starts off with listening to a mix tape, but then evolves into a roll call of women singers.

Well, this bald-headed girl I know
Sent me a tape of Bjork and Courtney Love
And PJ Harvey
Called it "Brilliant Women"
I put it in my car
Heard it all the way down to the coast
Normally, if left to my own devices
I don’t hear chick singers much
I guess it’s guys I hear the most
Sometimes these days
Don’t it seem like it’s enough
For girls to love a girl
Or use the F word prominently
Masturbate in public
Or learn guitar tied up to a post
I thought of all this hearing Bjork and Courtney Love and PJ Harvey
In my car driving to the coast


Also, on the same Mountain Goats album that mentions Leann Rimes (Coroner's Gambit), we also have

"the maria callas records on the stereo all the time
you're gonna get yours and i'm gonna get mine."

"the enigma variations on the radio
the things that i could guess at,
the things that i already know."

-Horseradish Road

&

"clear sky over Calcutta -- a warm wind.
Dvorak on the short wave
clear signal coming in"
-We Were Patriots.

Really, you could just make a big Mountain Goats mix using only songs that mention listening to something, I bet.
posted by redsparkler at 1:33 AM on September 12, 2009


Jebediah - Jerks of Attention

I'm getting there, my constant stare
And I don't think I'll move from this chair
We've got them both, Archers of loaf
And the Stone Roses in the stereo
posted by h00py at 4:18 AM on September 12, 2009


Porcupine Tree -- "Pure Narcotic"

You keep me waiting
You keep me alone in a room full of friends
You keep me hating
You keep me listening to the Bends

posted by crackingdes at 6:30 AM on September 12, 2009


The Dar Williams song "Are You Out There" is kind of a love letter to DJs:

Perhaps i am a miscreation
No one knows the truth there is no future here
And you're the dj speaks to my insomnia
And laughs at all i have to fear
Laughs at all i have to fear
You always play the madmen poets
Vinyl vision grungy bands
You never know who's still awake
You never know who understands and

Are you out there, can you hear this?
Jimmy olson, johnny memphis,
I was out here listening all the time
And though the static walls surround me
You were out there and you found me
I was out here listening all the time

posted by Lexica at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2009


And my husband just chimed in to add the Ramones - "Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?"

Do you remember lying in bed
With your covers pulled up over your head?
Radio playin' so no one can see

posted by Lexica at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2009


Here's an somewhat obscure one - "Watercolours Into the Ocean" by Destroyer:

Listening to "Strawberry Wine"
For the hundred and thirty-first time
...
posted by flawsekno at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2009


Clem Snide - "Nick Drake Tape"
That Nick Drake tape you love
Tonight it sounds so good ...
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 3:14 PM on September 12, 2009


Another Randy Newman, "I Love L.A.":
Rolling down Imperial Highway, big nasty redhead by my side
Santa Monica winds blowin' hot, and we was born to ride
Roll down the window, put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys, man, don't let the music stop


What's especially fun about that is a Beach Boys-esque harmony comes in under the instrumentals as that line is sung.
posted by tyrantkitty at 4:39 PM on September 12, 2009


Lucinda Williams (again) "Ventura"
Take the long way home, so I can ride around,
Put Neil Young on and turn up the sound.


There's a Patti Scialfa song (and, for the life of me, I can't remember which one at the moment) that has the line, "Through an open window, I hear a radio playing 'Who Will Stop the Rain'"
posted by whatideserve at 7:02 PM on September 12, 2009


Might not be active listening, but just in case:

"Gone to the Movies" - Semisonic - "And anyways the Wallflowers CD ended half an hour ago"
posted by backwards guitar at 7:07 PM on September 13, 2009


i dig rock and roll music by petery paul and mary
"and when the beatles tell you
there's somewhere they'd like to send you they mean exactly
what they say, complete with beatle like echos of what they're saying tool

they also take a pass at donovon, and the mama's and the papas with recognizable imitations of all. sounded like they had a lot of fun doing it.
posted by neelhtak at 10:24 PM on September 13, 2009


Matthew Good - Born Losers:

New Order's on the turntable, we're dancing
'cause what else do you do when you don't talk?

posted by cobwebberies at 8:08 PM on September 16, 2009


BitterOldPunk-

you're thinking of "Pennyroyal Tea":
Give me a Leonard Cohen Afterworld
So I can sigh eternally

posted by Philby at 10:39 PM on October 21, 2009


LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
posted by jonnyploy at 8:25 AM on April 19, 2010


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