"Then the man he steps right up to the microphone..."
February 13, 2019 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Hi MeFites! This may be a no-brainer question, but can anyone help me identify songs about fictional bands/singers in the vein of:
  • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - The Beatles
  • "Sultans of Swing" - Dire Straits
  • "Benny and the Jets" - Elton John
Looking forward to the suggestions; I plan on making a playlist for an upcoming trip. Thank you!
posted by theseventhstranger to Media & Arts (80 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
50ft Queenie - PJ Harvey
Down on the Corner - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Guitar Man - Elvis Presley
Into The Great Wide Open - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Johnny's Band - Deep Purple
Juke Box Hero - Foreigner
Mr. Bass Man - Johnny Cymbal
Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds
One Man Band - Leo Sayer
Organic Anti-Beat Box Band - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Pearl's A Singer - Elkie Brooks
Pop Goes The World - Men Without Hats
Rock And Roll Band - Boston
Shooting Star - Bad Company
The Ballad Of Curtis Loew - Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Guitar Man - Bread
The Kid Is Hot Tonight - Loverboy
Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? - Chris Rea
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
[source]
posted by sacrifix at 11:57 AM on February 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


The Spiders from Mars? Or are they not fictional? Question for the ages.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:57 AM on February 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


Henry and the H bombs
posted by TheRaven at 12:00 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Daddy Frank - Merle Haggard

I'm wondering if you are looking specifically for songs that reference the name of a fictional band? I have other ideas for songs that discuss band life more generally, and are fictional, but don't call the band by any particular name. Do those count for your needs?
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:01 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton — The Mountain Goats
posted by rodlymight at 12:02 PM on February 13, 2019 [15 favorites]


The Late Greats - Wilco
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:03 PM on February 13, 2019 [9 favorites]




Shooting Star (Johnny) - Bad Company
Joe's Garage - Frank Zappa
posted by MrKellyBlah at 12:06 PM on February 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


The entire Jethro Tull album Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die! is about the fictional Ray Lomas. (Not one of their better albums FWIW.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:16 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Tom Petty - Into The Great Wide Open
posted by soelo at 12:20 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mountain Goats - best ever death metal band in denton
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:22 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Toolmaster of Brainerd by Trip Shakespeare
posted by ejs at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can't stand the song, but We're An American Band.
posted by Mid at 12:29 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Wow! Just came back from lunch to a host of wonderful answers.

wemayfreeze: I was hoping for a first person POV introducing/describing the band, but given all of these answers, I have a LOT to listen to.
posted by theseventhstranger at 12:30 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Pots and Pans by Les Savy Fav
posted by cakelite at 12:30 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Mesopotamians (warning, weapons-grade catchy)
posted by clavicle at 12:35 PM on February 13, 2019 [12 favorites]


These are about musicians but not particularly about musicians qua musicians:

Johnny Ryall - Beastie Boys
Sk8er Boi - Averil Lavigne
posted by papayaninja at 12:42 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Man, I'd thinking living here for years I'd have heard of "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton."

My suggestion is tenuous, "Tribute" by Tenacious D is a song about a fictional best song of all time.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:47 PM on February 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


18 answers in and no one's mentioned Piano Man?
posted by basalganglia at 12:51 PM on February 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Willy and the Poor Boys from "Down on the Corner" by CCR.
posted by Glomar response at 12:51 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Jailhouse Rock, by Elvis Presley.

Spider Murphy played the tenor saxophone
Little Joe was blowin' on the slide trombone
The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang
The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang

posted by bondcliff at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Art Brut — Formed A Band, though the band isn't explicitly "fictional".
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:54 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


uncle john's band
the leader of the band
76 trombones
hey hey we're the monkees (?)
daddy sang bass (?)

also, styx' album kilroy was here is about a musician persecuted by prudes; not sure one particular song illustrates that, though.
posted by 20 year lurk at 1:00 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]




Thanks for asking this question, by the way. I was thinking of posting a similar one a while ago, but forgot about it!
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:08 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Tonight's the Night -- Neil Young.

Bruce Berry was a workin' man
He used to load that E-con-o-line...


Granted, Bruce was a real guy, but not a musician, but trying, so.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is excellent! I'm going to keep the question open until tomorrow - hopefully, there will be even more examples. Talk about an epic playlist!
posted by theseventhstranger at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2019




There is some overlap with this AskMeFi question from a couple of months ago.
posted by alex1965 at 1:29 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Records - Held Up High
The Monkees - Listen to the Band

Possibly more autobiographical:
Paul Simon - Late in the Evening
Montage - Grand Pianist
posted by rhizome at 1:35 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


'The Story of a Rock and Roll Band' by Randy Newman is technically about a real band (ELO) but the style is really fictionalized-sounding.
posted by ovvl at 1:39 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Sort of - Turn the Page, by Bob Seger.

("Out there in the spotlight you're a million miles away
Every ounce of energy you try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body like the music that you play")
posted by Mid at 1:40 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Monster Mash (note: there is a perennial argument about whether "The Monster Mash" is actually the Monster Mash or is merely a song about the Monster Mash, but either way, it is about a variety of people monsters performing)
posted by Etrigan at 1:41 PM on February 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Ob-la-di Ob-la-da by the Beatles. Because Molly is a singer in a band.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:45 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Spoonman by Soundgarden is about a real musician not a band, but since Artis the Spoonman actually plays on the song, it gets some extra credit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:54 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Come Back Jonee - DEVO (Deborah Harry does a kickass cover, too)
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:04 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


two more (musician, not band/singer):
the greatest trick the devil ever played is being a fictional violin bully
and, the narrator of Rush's 2112, , in the sections titled "discovery" and "presentation," discovers the magic of music before the draconian priests of the temple of syrinx advise him to forget it or else.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:05 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]




Guitarzan

Josie and the Pussycats ?
posted by Mchelly at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Indie Cindy & The Lo-Fi Lullabies by Lemon Demon
posted by Tha Contender at 2:33 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ziggy Stardust was already mentioned but, unless I missed it, I wanted to add Bowie’s Lady Stardust from the same album as that’s another first-person narrative of someone observing a singer.
posted by acidnova at 2:34 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Johnny Strikes Up the Band - Warren Zevon
posted by Carbolic at 2:56 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh Geno by Dexy's Midnight Runners is about the real singer Geno Washington, but it's such a good song I recommend it wherever I can.

https://youtu.be/RQO2wEJefjM
posted by askmehow at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ruben and the Jets - Mothers of Invention - not just a song but a whole album, made in 1968. Wikipedia says there was an actual band by that name in the early 1970s.
posted by JonJacky at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Freddy Feelgood and His Funky Little Five-Piece Band.
posted by MrBadExample at 4:18 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


what about fictional songs about fictional bands? tullycraft's "josie" imagines josie starting a punk band after josie and the pussycats...
posted by noloveforned at 4:50 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Johnny Cash singing Tennessee Flat-Top Box
posted by LizardBreath at 5:19 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Sugarloaf - Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:20 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Pavement - Cut Your Hair
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:20 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]




Moody Blues: I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)

Wet Willie: Street Corner Serenade
- Guido he's the one that sang down low
- Crazy Larry sang the baritone
- I'm the one that sang the lead
- Little Jackie made our song complete
posted by lockedroomguy at 6:25 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Joe Jackson - Blaze of Glory
Paul Simon - The Late Great Johnny Ace

Does your question require that the song deal with a specific, named fictional musician? For example, would these songs fit?

The Band - Stage Fright
The Carpenters - Superstar (covered here by Sonic Youth)
Carly Simon - Legend in Your Own Time
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:18 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Frank Zappa, "Joe's Garage"
Dire Straits, "Sultans Of Swing"

a fictional pop star is a loose theme of Jellyfish's magnificent album Spilt Milk:
"Joining A Fan Club"
"The Ghost At Number One"
posted by thelonius at 7:24 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Joni MItchell, Real Good For Free
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,Mr. Bojangles
Lucinda Williams, Drunken Angel
posted by nantucket at 7:50 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Valdy sings a good song about a guy getting heckled at music concert. (It’s actually non-fiction. The guy is him.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:31 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Harry Chapin - Last of the protest singers
(tells the story of a protest singer who carries on with the tradition after others move on to rock and roll and forget politics.)

Stringband, Did you hear that they busted the fiddle player.
(In which musicians tell the tale of a fiddle player busted for pot. May be true).
posted by chapps at 8:33 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Replacements - Left of the Dial
Don Rich - Round Hole Guitar
posted by wps98 at 8:45 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Johnny Guitar by Peggy Lee
posted by ejs at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Billy Joel, Ballad of Billy the Kid
James Taylor, Sweet Baby James
posted by at at 9:40 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Tupelo Mississippi Flash - Jerry Reed
posted by GPF at 9:56 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The One on the Right is on the Left by Johnny Cash
posted by kensington314 at 10:38 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


"The Blues" by Randy Newman featuring Paul Simon. Cool tune.
posted by kensington314 at 10:41 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


basalganglia, Piano Man is actually autobiographical (though I'm willing to concede that autobiography and fiction tend to be overlapping rather than exclusive categories).
posted by thedward at 11:29 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Opening Band" by Paul and Storm
posted by teraflop at 11:49 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Half Man Half Biscuit Left Lyrics in the Practice Room (lyrics) and Rock and Roll is Full of Bad Wools (lyrics).
posted by Pink Frost at 11:56 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Pink Floyd's The Wall is a concept album about a fictionalised singer (Pink) in a rock band, and his growing sense of alienation from the audience.
posted by snarfois at 1:28 AM on February 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Zeroes by David Bowie – one of the best songs on one of his worst albums.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:16 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fergus Sings The Blues - Deacon Blue
posted by jontyjago at 3:34 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mr. Fantasy by Traffic
posted by askmehow at 4:48 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


These almost work, I think

"The Cover of Rolling Stone" recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
"Rhinestone Cowboy" recorded by Glen Campbell
posted by Glomar response at 5:19 AM on February 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Have a Cigar by Pink Floyd may or may not be autobiographical.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:54 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Adverts - One Chord Wonders
posted by entity447b at 6:57 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Have a Cigar by Pink Floyd may or may not be autobiographical

but all of The Wall is about the mental health of a fictional singer named Pink.
posted by flabdablet at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ben Folds - Belinda
posted by emelenjr at 8:49 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman
posted by hydrophonic at 9:23 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

alex1965: That did not come up in my initial search, but I was being specific in my ask (in the beginning) and expanded it. Thanks for the feedback!

Can everyone be marked as best answer? Because I highly appreciate the time taken on this.
posted by theseventhstranger at 11:50 AM on February 14, 2019


(This sounds amazing. If it’s a Spotify playlist, can you share it here?)
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Kinks -- All Of My Friends Were There
posted by chrchr at 3:45 PM on February 14, 2019


Top Jimmy - Van Halen
posted by saladin at 3:54 AM on February 15, 2019


Dave Brubeck w/ Carmen McRae - Paradiddle Joe
posted by hydrophonic at 9:04 AM on March 2, 2019


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