"When Frank Zappa was a little ba-aby, sittin' on his daddy's knee...?" Songs about singers?
March 3, 2007 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Songs about Singers, for folk hero singalong?

Hero hype hypermedia!

I am looking for songs about singers that mention them by name. I want it this compilation to sound like US weekly meets "John Henry"- the folksong, not the TMBG Album. And yes, TMBG has some songs that could fit in, like The Day (Marvin Gaye and Phil Ochs got married), XTC vs. Adam Ant, We're the Replacements, maybe.


Jessica Simpson (where has your love gone, it's not in your music, so where has it gone, then?) - Adam Green
Jennifer Love Hewitt - King Missile
Amy Grant - Young Fresh Fellows
Rufus is a Tit Man - Loudon Wainwright

Google revealed two somewhat generative other lists of songs about singers, but many on these lists seem to be about appreciation of the chosen artist's music/soul or merely name dropping them in another way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia to the rescue.

List of songs with the name of a musical performer in their title

I think this is the only relevant list there -- check it out yourself by searching "song titles" on wikipedia.
posted by paulrockNJ at 8:09 PM on March 3, 2007

Response by poster: oh wow, I haven't even clicked through to there yet, but I should have known wikipedia would be all over it.

Having clicked though, it's artist name ocurring in titles: a good indicator of subject but not a 100% guarantee. Of course, this is possibly the best extant collection.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:20 PM on March 3, 2007

Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Steve Goodman, David Blue and Me by John Wesley Harding.

Also by Wes: "Bob Dylan is my father, Joan Baez is my mother, and I'm their Bastard Son."

A list of Bob Dylan mentions in non-Bob-Dylan songs.
posted by staggernation at 8:28 PM on March 3, 2007

Nightshift by the Commodores.
Many songs by Wesley Willis.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:48 PM on March 3, 2007

David Bowie has a song about Bob Dylan... called uh "song for bob dylan" -- probably in the list mentioned above
posted by Satapher at 9:05 PM on March 3, 2007

ooh, Bob Dylan says "Alicia Keys" like 5 times on his new album "Modern Times" called "Thunder on the Mountain"

funny quote from him "I remember seeing her on the Grammys. I think I was on the show with her, I didn't meet her or anything. But I said to myself, 'There's nothing about that girl I don't like."
posted by Satapher at 9:35 PM on March 3, 2007

There's always When Eno Sings by the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy. Pretty sure Eno never sang about the JBC, though.
posted by xil at 10:29 PM on March 3, 2007

And "Alex Chilton" by the Replacements, and "David Bowie Needs Ideas" by Bongwater (the latter's lyrics being one of Ann Magnuson's dreams, also featuring David Byrne).
posted by lisa g at 10:35 PM on March 3, 2007

The Mountain Goats have a couple - "The Last Day of Jimi Hendrix's Life" from "Ghana" and the practically identically-concepted "Song for Dennis Brown" from "The Sunset Tree"

There's one about Will Oldham called "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" by Jeffrey Lewis.

April March has a song called "Mickey et Chantal" which is apparently in part about Chantal Goya, the cute pop singer who co-starred in Godard's "Masculin féminin" - but it's in French so I don't know to what extent it's actually about her.

Bright Eyes made an incredibly goofy contribution to a Jandek tribute album called "Have You Ever Heard of Jandek?"

There are at least two songs about Joe Hill, an author of early leftist parodies of traditional folksongs. The wikipedia page has the texts of both songs. He's probably not quite what you're looking for, but there he is.

Finally, there are songs that mention other bands - I'm not sure if you're looking for those, but some I know off the top of my head are:
"Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About" by Tullycraft
"Make Me A Mixtape" by the Promise Ring
posted by bubukaba at 11:34 PM on March 3, 2007

Response by poster: bubukaba, I listened to The Sunset Tree earlier today for (not the first) time and didn't know that song was about a singer. *opens ears*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:56 PM on March 3, 2007

Lou Reed by the Little Willies is great.
posted by DonnieSticks at 12:35 AM on March 4, 2007

Oh, one more: Xiu Xiu's "Ian Curtis Wishlist" (they also have a song called "Jennifer Lopez," but alas she's not in the lyrics).

And I vaguely remember from my punk rock high school days that there were a lot of songs about Ian Stuart of the skinhead band Skrewdriver, both denouncing him and praising him (the wikipedia page mentions a couple at the bottom).

Also, Alasdair Roberts puts his own name into a character's mouth in the song "The Whole House Is Singing".

I just asked my boyfriend if he could think of any, and he says that Pink mentions Britney Spears in her song "Hazard to Myself" and that Nirvana mentions Leonard Cohen in "Pennyroyal Tea".
posted by bubukaba at 12:52 AM on March 4, 2007

"I Wish I Was Him" by Ben Lee doesn't explicitly have Evan Dando's name in it, but you won't find a song with more hero worship.
posted by team lowkey at 1:32 AM on March 4, 2007

Here's another wikipedia list: List of songs which refer to other songs. This list may be of some use, as a few songs listed also mention their respective performers.

Does it necessarily need to be one band referring to another singer (that is what I'm assuming, given the gossipy US Weekly requirement)? If not, I know that KMFDM make frequent reference to themselves (I shouldn't know this, but I do).

Otherwise, Crunchyfrog has the right idea. I know that Wesley Willis has a song entitled "KMFDM."

Per your US Weekly requirement, do you want your examples to be contemporary? Do the references need to be of someone who might appear in recent gossip rags?
posted by numinous at 2:51 AM on March 4, 2007

Bob Dylan's song to Woody Guthrie would be about as Folk as a sing along could be. It's off Dylan's very first album.
posted by magikker at 3:03 AM on March 4, 2007

Ellis Paul namedrops a bunch of singers in Jukebox on My Grave.
posted by clavicle at 6:29 AM on March 4, 2007

The String Cheese Incident's "Johnny Cash":

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash he don't smoke hash. . .

And you know, he doesn't.
posted by megatherium at 7:28 AM on March 4, 2007

Rock and Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers
Sweet Soul Music by Arthur Conley
posted by evilcolonel at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2007

This previous askme has some ideas for you.

Stereolab - International Colouring Contest (about Lucia Pamela)
Magnetic Fields - My Only Friend (about Billie Holiday)
Spinnanes - Jad Fair Drives Women Wild
Calexico - Not Even Stevie Nicks (maybe not, since she's not mentioned in the lyrics)
fIREHOSE - For the Singer of R.E.M. (again, maybe not)
posted by hydrophonic at 8:06 AM on March 4, 2007

I think Brownie McGhee once did a song about Leadbelly.
posted by jlowen at 8:44 AM on March 4, 2007

"Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen mentions Mojo Nixon (and Mini Pearl).
posted by sic at 10:13 AM on March 4, 2007

In "When Will You Say?", Jason Anderson sings "When will you say: 'Oh, Jason Anderson, You're so awesome!"

There's another one where he sings about listening to Elliott Smith, but I can't think of the song title. And I believe he has one where he makes reference to Kyle Field of Little Wings.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2007

Some band called the Smittens has a song called "Momus, Where Are You?", presumably about this Momus.

Also, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu also mentions his own name in that song I mentioned earlier, along with Ian Curtis.

I just keep thinking of more!
posted by bubukaba at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2007

Red Hot Chili Peppers, My Lovely Man:

In my room I'm all alone
Waiting for you to get home
Listen to Roberta Flack
But I know you won't come back

posted by Meatbomb at 6:23 AM on March 5, 2007

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