Songs by bands about being in bands
December 28, 2018 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I need songs that are about being in bands.
posted by poorchanticleer to Media & Arts (112 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton by the mountain goats
posted by aka burlap at 12:31 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


We’re The Replacements by They Might Be Giants
posted by aka burlap at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Formed a Band by Art Brut.
posted by misteraitch at 12:34 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Rock and Roll Band by Boston
posted by deezil at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Reel Big Fish's Sell Out is a classic of the trope, but I think I prefer One Hit Wonderful.

The Wonder Year's Came Out Swinging is about touring.

Pavement's Range Life.

The Moody Blues's I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)

Creedence Clearwater Revival's Travellin' Band

There are...a lot more.
posted by General Malaise at 12:36 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]




Jackson Browne - The Load-Out
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 12:45 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Guesthouse by David Wax Museum.
posted by DSime at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2018


They Might Be Giants also have "The Mesopotamians," in which the 4 Mesopotamian kings have a band, and are currently lost in their Econoline touring van.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star - The Byrds
Garageland - The Clash
More Songs About Chocolate And Girls - The Undertones
We Are The Road Crew - Motorhead
Hi, We're The Support Band - Tim Rogers
Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
posted by pdb at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Bachman Turner Overdrive Taking Care of Business
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.
posted by jackbishop at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Pavement - Cut Your Hair
Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer
AC/DC - Rock N Roll Singer
Sonic Youth - Or Lyrics
posted by vunder at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Abba - Thank You for the Music, Super Trouper
posted by Melismata at 12:56 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm With the Band, by Little Big Town
posted by tracer at 12:57 PM on December 28, 2018


"Turn the Page" by Bob Seeger

"Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits

"Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits

"Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh
posted by alex1965 at 12:57 PM on December 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie. Of course.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ben's My Friend by Sun Kil Moon is Mark Kozelak lamenting how he's not as famous as Death Cab
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:03 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Drive-By Truckers "Road Cases" is about touring.

Robbie Fulks, the Chicago alt-country guy, has "We're on the Road," with his touring band. It's a lighter-than-air song to set up the album of live recordings; halfway through the song, Fulks takes a call from (an imitator of) Glenn Dicker, the president of his record label, asking him to deliver a cheap new album... and then the proper album starts.

Fulks and crew also offer "Fountains of Wayne Hotline," in which Fulks calls into a hypothetical hotline for helping songwriters in a jam. The advice he gets on the hotline's calls go into the song as the music resumes. Fulks promises it's a song made from respect and envy for FoW's brilliance.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:03 PM on December 28, 2018


If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will by PUP
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:04 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Don’t forget the other self-referential song from TMBG’s first album, Rhythm Section Want Ad, which contains the immortal line “Laugh hard, it’s a long way to the bank.”
posted by sesquipedalia at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


The Decemberists: The Singer Addresses his Audience
posted by hydra77 at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2018


Most obvious: there is a song called Playing in the Band by the Grateful Dead. Their song
Truckin' is also about being in a band.
posted by JonJacky at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


One needs to squint a little, but: In The Flesh part II by Pink Floyd.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:13 PM on December 28, 2018


And Band on the Run by the Wings.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:17 PM on December 28, 2018


I feel like the Rolling Stones must have a dozen songs like this, but the one I'm thinking of right now is Torn and Frayed — which is about being in a band that's kind of falling apart and struggling with codeine addiction, and is definitely told in the third person and not at all autobiographical, nope, no sir.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:23 PM on December 28, 2018


Longer Than You’ve Been Alive by the Old 97’s
posted by MadamM at 1:23 PM on December 28, 2018


• Beatles - “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
• Wilco - “I Love My Label
• Shovels and Rope - “Birmingham
• Barr - “The Song is the Single
• Several songs on Junior Senior's D-D-Don't Don't Stop the Beat album: “Go Junior, Go Senior” “Rhythm Bandits” and “Dynamite”
• Ben Folds Five - “For Those of Y'all Who Wear Fanny Packs,” A semi-improvised sound check song about sound checks, that was recorded and released on an album of B-sides.
posted by D.Billy at 1:25 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is just a modern rock song - Belle and Sebastian

"We're four boys in our corduroys,
We're not terrific but we're competent"
posted by betweenthebars at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


More on the business side, Seymour Stein - Belle and Sebastian
posted by betweenthebars at 1:28 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Band Wore Blue Shirts - Joe Jackson.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:32 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Reel Big Fish's Sell Out is a classic of the trope, but I think I prefer One Hit Wonderful.

And somewhat indirectly, Don't Start A Band.
posted by zamboni at 1:36 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


My Band by D12
It Ain't Over Til the Fat Lady Sings by En Vogue
posted by freezer cake at 1:37 PM on December 28, 2018


For a band of size =1, there is Billy Joel's Pianoman.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:37 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wait A Minute, by Herb Pederson and performed by the Seldom Scene, Tony Rice, and others, has always captured some of the heartache of being out on the road far away from loved ones while in a band (or supporting them).

On the Road Again captures the other side of the coin.
posted by Candleman at 1:40 PM on December 28, 2018


Deep Purple - Space Truckin'
posted by Stoneshop at 1:43 PM on December 28, 2018


Though it needs more cowbell, Grand Funk Railroad's We're an American Band.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 1:45 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Camp Cope - The Opener.
posted by rdnnyc at 1:46 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sultans of Swing, Dire Straits
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


This Boy is Exhausted, the Wrens
posted by holborne at 2:06 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Traffic
posted by she's not there at 2:06 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will, PUP
posted by holborne at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2018


They Might Be Giants - They Got Lost
They Might Be Giants - The End of the Tour

Neil Young - Needle and the Damage Done
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 2:09 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Well, it seems my assumption that Traffic's Low Spark is about life in a band isn't universally shared—apparently, not even by the creators. As it happens, I believe the meaning of a work is entirely in the eyes of the beholder, so I stand by the comment.
posted by she's not there at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2018


Silkworm, Miracle Mile
We played at the Knitting Factory for 15 people, 30 bucks
Someone broke into the goddamn truck
posted by xil at 2:28 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Paul and Storm – (We Are The) Opening Band
posted by nicwolff at 2:33 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


An entire album: Joel Plaskett's Ashtray Rock.
posted by miles1972 at 2:37 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]




"History Lesson Part II" by the Minutemen.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:39 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also from the wrens, everyone chooses sides
posted by ch1x0r at 3:07 PM on December 28, 2018


Turn the Pge. The original Bob Seger version was mentioned already; I like Metallica's version better.
posted by 3FLryan at 3:14 PM on December 28, 2018


The Replacements Left of the Dial
Blues Explosion Write A Song
posted by rodlymight at 3:14 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sunshine in Chicago - Sun Kil Moon
Simple - Phish
Faithfully - Journey
Touring - Ramones
posted by prinado at 3:14 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out is about the formation of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 3:16 PM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Mercury Rev / Holes
posted by The_Auditor at 3:27 PM on December 28, 2018


Look Inside America - Blur, about life while touring America.
posted by loriginedumonde at 3:34 PM on December 28, 2018


"The Opening Act" by Drive-By Truckers, and "The Ballad of the Opening Band" by Jeff Tweedy.
posted by Occula at 3:36 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


A comedy one: Mitch Benn and the Distractions, Boy Band.
posted by Catseye at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2018


Bleed it out, Linkin Park

Rockstar, Nickelback
posted by joycehealy at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Got a rock n roll band and a fast right hand / nothing's gonna stop us, no, nothing: It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) is another AC/DC other song about being in a band, and an early-career mission statement. Plus it has the bagpipes.
posted by bassomatic at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


'Song for A Sad Musician' by 70s English band Mark-Almond (not to be confused with etc, etc) is a quirky mellow moody hypnotic dirge about a rock musician feeling the circular logic that he has to go back on tour in order to afford to buy the yacht that he could finally drift away upon.
posted by ovvl at 3:51 PM on December 28, 2018


More Ramones:
I Wanna Be Sedated
Danny Says
posted by Gotanda at 3:55 PM on December 28, 2018


Third Week in the Chelsea— Jefferson Airplane
Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way— Waylon Jennings
posted by Ideefixe at 3:55 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


These two songs by Jeffery Lewis are more about being a musician than being in a band, if that's not an important distinction for you:

Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch
Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror
posted by ejs at 3:57 PM on December 28, 2018


Niteclub - Old 97s

Casualties - American Aquarium
posted by the primroses were over at 4:07 PM on December 28, 2018


A less squint-requiring Pink Floyd suggestion: "Have a Cigar".
posted by jackbishop at 4:10 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Motorhead - R.A.M.O.N.E.S.
The Ramones's cover of Motorhead's R.A.M.O.N.E.S.
Too Much Joy - If I Was A Mekon
posted by bile and syntax at 4:15 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Super 8 Motel- Jason Isbell
posted by kimdog at 4:38 PM on December 28, 2018


Bon Jovi, Dead or Alive

Aimee Mann, I’ve Had It

Sloan, The Marquee and the Moon
posted by armeowda at 4:39 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, and perhaps less sincerely, Weird Al’s Young Dumb and Ugly
posted by armeowda at 4:42 PM on December 28, 2018


Bettie Serveert, "Rudder"
posted by limeonaire at 4:45 PM on December 28, 2018


Beware by Randy
posted by Twicketface at 5:02 PM on December 28, 2018


Crew -- if a song by a solo artist about being in a rap crew counts. (Some nonzero number of other members of the crew in question almost certainly appears on this song.)
posted by clavicle at 5:06 PM on December 28, 2018


Solo act singing about being a solo act: Alan Jackson's "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow"
posted by Fuego at 5:22 PM on December 28, 2018




Behind the Music by the Vandals
Wrong Band by Tori Amos
posted by iamkimiam at 5:35 PM on December 28, 2018


I’m a Cuckoo” by Belle and Sebastian has a verse I particularly love:

Scary moment, lovin' every moment
I was high from playing shows
We lost a singer to her clothes
posted by Riverine at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2018


Purple Bear - Polvo
Hooker With a Penis - Tool
posted by saladin at 5:49 PM on December 28, 2018


Pretty much all of Drive By Truckers' album Southern Rock Opera (including Road Cases, mentioned above).

Grateful Dead have Playing in the Band and Truckin', mentioned above, as well as The Music Never Stopped. Also Uncle John's Band.

Whiskeytown Lo Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel and Angels are Messengers from God.

Replacements. Talent Show
posted by chbrooks at 6:02 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Replacements, "Left of the Dial"

Mountain Goats, "Paid in Cocaine"

Beastie Boys, "No Sleep Til Brooklyn"
posted by praemunire at 6:06 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


What a Waste - Ian Dury and the Blockheads
"The chance to play the fool in a 6 piece band
FIrst night nerves every one night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste what a waste but I don't mind"

(Get a) Grip (on Yourself) - The Stranglers
About the struggles of trying to make a living in a band when people keep telling you "The money's no good, just get a grip on yourself".
posted by w0mbat at 6:08 PM on December 28, 2018


Madness — Rockin in A flat

Sold all my records and I bought a mic
I found some blokes who do what I like
I saw the vicar who ran the hall
He said we can rehearse there any time at all
Well come on, come on, come on
Let's have some fun tonight
We're really rocking now, I've got a bird
She says we are the best band she's ever heard
I've got a bike and I'm having a time
But my mum keeps saying "Rock'n'Roll's a crime"
Well come on, come on, come on
Let's have some fun tonight
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:39 PM on December 28, 2018


Ketchum, ID by boygenius

I am never anywhere
Anywhere I go
When I’m home I’m never there
Long enough to know
posted by gamera at 7:08 PM on December 28, 2018


also ....
Frank Zappa has many songs about this. Especially most of Joe's Garage.

Blue Oyster Cult The Marshall Plan.

I don't think that The Wall needs much squinting.

Japandroids Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Mark Kozelek (covering AC/DC) Rock n' Roll Singer.

Uncle Tupelo D Boon (referencing 'History Lesson Part II', mentioned above.)

Is Quadrophenia too metaphorical?
posted by chbrooks at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Counting Crows, "Mr. Jones"
posted by limeonaire at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


McClusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
posted by jzed at 7:48 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


A super fun jam featured on an old version of Guitar Hero or Rock Band:

Hellacopters, I’m In the Band
posted by jeoc at 7:53 PM on December 28, 2018


Elton John - Holiday Inn
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 8:19 PM on December 28, 2018


Dieselhed - B A Band
The melancholy tale of an imagined future when they will no longer be together. Incidentally, they are in fact no longer a band. The lineup at that time (1994) included Zac Holtzman from Dengue Fever and Jonathan Segel from Camper van Beethoven.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:39 PM on December 28, 2018


Frank Turner - The Ballad of Me and My Friends
posted by bethnull at 8:42 PM on December 28, 2018


Workin' for MCA by Lynyrd Skynyrd
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 9:21 PM on December 28, 2018


Neil Young - Buffalo Springfield Again

MGMT - Time To Pretend
posted by teekat at 9:50 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Who - Success Story
posted by octothorpe at 10:44 PM on December 28, 2018


I love Ben Vaughn’s “My First Band
posted by rongorongo at 1:29 AM on December 29, 2018


Billy Squier said his song The Stroke is about dealing with record labels.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:56 AM on December 29, 2018


Blackalicious: Deception
Jurassic 5: World of Entertainment
Mark B & Blade: Hostile Takeover
posted by heatvision at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2018


More rap crew songs. Bangarang, Team The Best Team.
posted by clavicle at 6:18 AM on December 29, 2018


Boston Band, by Jim's Big Ego.
posted by bondcliff at 7:34 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


How about a song about the lame-ass, talentless bands full of Pretty Boys that get all of the attention while Joe Jackson suffers the life of the outsider.

Pretty boys - sing and play guitars
Pretty boys get to be big stars

How do you rate my sex appeal from one to ten
Is my image just a bit confusing
Maybe I should get a facelift, start again
Maybe I should trade my pointed shoes in
'Cause talent don't count
For Pretty Boys

posted by she's not there at 8:25 AM on December 29, 2018


Sellout by Emmet Swimming.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:23 AM on December 29, 2018




Pink Floyd - Have a Cigar.
About dealing with record label bullshitters.
posted by w0mbat at 9:29 AM on December 29, 2018


Mott the Hoople / Ian Hunter has a few of these:
All The Way From Memphis
Ballad of Mott the Hoople
Saturday Gigs
posted by Bron at 9:45 AM on December 29, 2018


A left-field choice - Mogwai's "Tracy" is largely instrumental, but includes audio of phone calls about fights among band members and tensions during the recordings of Young Team.

No Funkadelic in here yet?

"Good to Your Earhole"
"Let's Take it to the Stage"
"Standing on the Verge of Getting It On"

I wondered where "in a band" left a lot of hip-hop, too. Lots of it follows the theme of "I'm an MC; here's how I do things. This is the DJ; he will now show you how he does things."
posted by el_lupino at 11:21 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Beth" by KISS
Beth I hear you calling
But I can't come home right now
Me and the boys are playing
And we just can't find the sound
This song neatly fits in the Venn diagram intersecting "Songs about being in a band" and "Songs about writing songs", which is another fun list.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:37 PM on December 29, 2018


Let Down - Radiohead
Thursday - Eliza Carthy
April 14th (Part 1) - Gillian Welch
Pretty much every song on Lily Allen's No Shame.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:10 AM on December 30, 2018


More about the "being famous" aspect than the music, but how about Larger than Life by the Backstreet Boys?
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2018


Barenaked Ladies - Hello City
posted by drinkmaildave at 4:19 PM on December 30, 2018


Surprise Surprise by X
posted by potrzebie at 8:38 PM on January 1, 2019


Mark Erelli's Basement Days.
posted by offog at 6:59 AM on January 2, 2019


New York mag just did piece about this.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:11 PM on January 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Semisonic have a new one, Basement Tapes, which reminded me that they also have an older one, If I Run.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:28 AM on July 19, 2019


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