Help me find music about music!
April 28, 2008 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Help me find music about music! What are some songs about music, it's culture, etc.? Songs like The VU's Rock & Roll, Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, Billy Joel's It's Still Rock and Roll to Me, etc...
posted by zenja72 to Media & Arts (71 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Billy Joel's The Entertainer came immediately to mind as well.
posted by keribear at 4:45 AM on April 28, 2008

"Signed Curtain" by Matching Mole stands for an extreme example of this urge to meta. Check out Robert Wyatt's lyrics at base of the page.
posted by einekleine at 4:58 AM on April 28, 2008

John Cougar Mellencamp's R.O.C.K. in the USA from his Scarecrow album comes to mind.
posted by snap_dragon at 4:59 AM on April 28, 2008

Youtube let me down

But the Monitors "What will we be singing in the 80s"

Please don't mention Joni Mitchell and Billy Joel in the same sentence ever again. There is no need to do that.
posted by mattoxic at 4:59 AM on April 28, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star
posted by goo at 5:12 AM on April 28, 2008

The song His Indie World, by Mary Lou Lord, catalogs whatever indie bands are around at the time. She changes it to keep it up to date. It's a pretty great song.

The Heart of Rock and Roll by Huey Lewis.

Also one of my least favorite songs, Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger (I think).
posted by sully75 at 5:12 AM on April 28, 2008

Melanie's Lay Down (Candles in the rain) is also about Woodstock.
posted by goo at 5:13 AM on April 28, 2008

From They Might Be Giants: Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal, Rhythm Section Want Ad, XTC Vs. Adam Ant, maybe Youth Culture Killed My Dog. Actually, here's a list of Their songs with music as a theme.
posted by LolaGeek at 5:23 AM on April 28, 2008

"Have a cigar", Pink Floyd (and sung by Roy Harper) on Wish You Were Here.
posted by Sparx at 5:23 AM on April 28, 2008

"Ripple" by the Grateful Dead; annotated.
posted by beige at 5:25 AM on April 28, 2008

"I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well", "On Tape" or "Indiepop Ain't Noise Pollution" by The Pooh Sticks.
posted by Shave at 5:33 AM on April 28, 2008

"It's Only Rock And Roll" by The Rolling Stones
posted by peewinkle at 5:37 AM on April 28, 2008

Sebadoh's Gimme Indie Rock
The Capriocorns' The New Sound
Don McLean's American Pie
posted by Kattullus at 5:48 AM on April 28, 2008

Nas' "Bridging the Gap"
Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke"
posted by peacecorn at 5:49 AM on April 28, 2008

"The Night Hank Williams Died" - Tim Hardin
"Kylie's Got a Crush on Us" - BMX Bandits
"The Bride Stripped Bare by 'Bachelors'" - The Bonzo Dog Band
"Overnight Sensation" - The Raspberries
"Music For Money" - Nick Lowe
"I love my Label" - Nick Lowe
"Sound Education" - I-Roy
"The Story of Them" - Them
"I know where Sid Barrett Lives" - The Television Personalities
"The Great Pub-rock revival" - Denim
posted by zemblamatic at 5:53 AM on April 28, 2008

The Killers, "Indie Rock & Roll"
posted by futility closet at 6:00 AM on April 28, 2008

Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie
Panic (Kill the DJ) by the Smiths
The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton by the Mountain Goats
posted by brevator at 6:00 AM on April 28, 2008

"Hank, Karen and Elvis" by Young Fresh Fellows
"Long Live Rock" by The Who ("We were the 1st band to vomit in the bar And find the distance to the stage too far")
"The Load Out / Stay" by Jackson Brown (ode to the roadies?)
"Roland the Roadie and Gertrude the Groupie" by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show (I believe lyrics by Shel Silverstein!)
posted by largecorp at 6:04 AM on April 28, 2008

Gone Country, by Alan Jackson
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:09 AM on April 28, 2008

Paint a Vulgar Picture by The Smiths.
Box Set by Barenaked Ladies.
posted by sjthomp at 6:10 AM on April 28, 2008

The bossa nova classic Desafinado (Off-key) by Tom Jobim is about itself. The first line is "If you think this is out of tune, my love..." only to defend the genre later "bossa nova is very natural..."
posted by umbĂș at 6:11 AM on April 28, 2008

What I want to know is: Has anyone taken it a step further and written a song about this kind of song. Something like, "Remember when we used to rock about rock, a long, long time ago?"
posted by umbĂș at 6:13 AM on April 28, 2008

As long as we're on Joni Mitchell, how about "Free Man in Paris"?
posted by pasici at 6:16 AM on April 28, 2008

They Might Be Giants Number Three, maybe?
posted by rokusan at 6:30 AM on April 28, 2008

"Looking for a Song" by Big Audio Dynamite
posted by Julnyes at 6:35 AM on April 28, 2008

Another Bill Joel song - Piano Man (in a way)

Don McLean's American Pie (best audio quality I could find, ignore the horrible graphics and just listen to the music)
posted by thread_makimaki at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2008

Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty
Shooting Star - Bad Company
posted by beachhead2 at 6:54 AM on April 28, 2008

Turn the Page - Bob Seager. I think that song is all about being on the road.
posted by beachhead2 at 6:55 AM on April 28, 2008

Sing! I used to love this when I was of Sesame Street age. Here's Lena Horne singing it with the Muppets. My favorite version by the Carpenters.

A very different one about singing and music: Sing for the moment (Eminem)
posted by thread_makimaki at 6:59 AM on April 28, 2008

"Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem
Lyrics here
posted by dm_nyc at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2008

Helen Love - Long Live The UK Music Scene
posted by doiheartwentyone at 7:13 AM on April 28, 2008

Radio Radio - Elvis Costello

And the radio is in the hands of such a lot fools tryin' to anesthetize the way that you feel!
posted by Viomeda at 7:22 AM on April 28, 2008

And how could I forget? That fantastic glam swan-song, Mott the Hoople's great "Saturday Gigs."
posted by Viomeda at 7:31 AM on April 28, 2008

Crikey, there are so many of them. I'm checking in on this question and realise I am actually listening to one whilst reading: It's The Ting Tings' Great DJ.
posted by einekleine at 7:44 AM on April 28, 2008

Perfectly Good Guitar by John Hiatt (inspired by the events at about 4:10 in this video).
posted by TedW at 7:46 AM on April 28, 2008

"The Spirit of Radio" - Rush
"Limelight" - Rush
"The Music Never Stopped" - Grateful Dead
posted by Daily Alice at 7:50 AM on April 28, 2008

All videos are the first youtube ones I found, could be live or unofficial, but the music is right.

Bad Religion - Punk Rock Song
Barenaked Ladies - What a good boy (has the lyric "this song is the cross that I bear)
Cake - Commissioning a symphony in C, as well as "Sad Songs & Waltzes"
Cat Empire - The Chariot
Cloud Cult - The Deaf Girl's Song
There's always Everclear - A.M. Radio
Gogol Bordello - Immigrant Punk is about, well you know.
Gordon Lightfoot - I used to be a country singer
MC Frontalot with Kompressor - Rappers we Crush, and Indier Than Thou
MC Lars - Signing Emo, White Kids Aren't Hyphy
Porcupine Tree - Mellotron Scratch, and even better, The Sound of Muzak
The Ramones - Do you remember Rock 'n Roll Radio?, or Rock 'n Roll High School
Reel Big Fish - Rock and Roll is Bitchin', Sell Out, and a few more by them
Rooney - Popstars
Scissor Sisters - Music is the Victim
Spoon - The Beast, the Dragon Adored (And when you believe, they call it Rock and Roll)
Tenacious D - The Metal, and of course Tribute
Tom Lehrer - The Irish Ballad and Clementine
We Are Scientists - It's a Hit

Of those, the best are Bad Religion, Everclear, Porcupine Tree, and Reel Big Fish.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:51 AM on April 28, 2008

Ramones: Rock and Roll Radio
posted by davebush at 7:51 AM on April 28, 2008

The Ataris - Song For A Mix Tape which is about making a mix tape and putting this song on it (recursivity, anyone?)

The Exploited - Sid Vicious Was Innocent about Sid's alleged killing of Nancy Spungeon.

NOFX - Please Play This Song On The Radio self-referential to structure, and the reasons it deserves to be played.

Guttermouth - What If? about the Doors trying out Fred Schneider as a replacement for Jim Morrison.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2008

Song for Whoever by the Beautiful South. It's about the gullibility of teenage girls who will take a song to No.1 if it's got their name in the title.
posted by essexjan at 7:59 AM on April 28, 2008

Cat Power-Song to Bobby about Bob Dylan

Joni Mitchell-Goodbye Porkpie Hat (added lyrics re: Lester Young to Charles Mingus's tunes)
posted by sully75 at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2008

Sorry, mostly beat/rhythm based
John Miles - Music

The Look - I Am The Beat
Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm
posted by Dub at 8:15 AM on April 28, 2008

Rock Back Billy by John Hiatt
I Wouldn't Put My Guitar Down - Mike Henderson & Bluebloods
First Time I Met the Blues - Buddy Guy
posted by timsteil at 8:28 AM on April 28, 2008

I highly recommend "Do You Believe in Magic?" by the Lovin' Spoonful.
posted by Paid In Full at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2008

I can't believe no one has mentioned the Byrds "So You Want to be a Rock 'n Roll Star" yet.
posted by TedW at 9:26 AM on April 28, 2008

YT links where available...

Nick Lowe - They Called it Rock
The Velvet Underground - Rock and Roll (the classic statement.)
Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show - Cover of the Rolling Stone (a novelty, but on point.)
CSS - Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex (also semi-famous for an iPod touch fanboy commercial.)
Jackson Browne - The Load Out (perhaps the definitive song of life on the road / touring. He's a terrific lyricist.)
Bob Seger - Turn The Page (more on the touring life)
Bob Seger - Rock and Roll Never Forgets (an homage to the genre: "all of Chuck's children are out there, playin' his hits")
Chuck Berry - Rock and Roll Music (One of the original declarations of love. See also The Beatles' cover)
posted by theoddball at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2008

"Hook" by Blues Traveler. So good.
posted by heathergirl at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2008

XTC's Funk Pop a Roll and Travels in Nihilon fit the bill.
posted by mollweide at 9:48 AM on April 28, 2008

10cc - Dreadlock Holiday
LCD Sound System - Daft Punk is playing at my house
Sparks - When do I get to sing my way?

Every music-nerd musician will write some songs about music. After all, that's what they know and love.
posted by SurrenderMonkey at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2008

Reunion, "Life Is A Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)"


*throws down mic*

This fucking song will now haunt me for days
posted by Skot at 10:08 AM on April 28, 2008

The Jam, To Be Someone
posted by scody at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2008

Music by Madonna; not groundbreaking lyrics but the song is
posted by juva at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
Rockstar - Nickelback
I Write the Songs - Barry Manilow
Listen to the Music - The Doobie Brothers
Music - Madonna
posted by sapphirebbw at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2008

This is Just a Modern Rock Song - Belle and Sebastian
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:36 AM on April 28, 2008

This was the subject of my last MeFi Mix

Songs about Songs
American Music--Violent Femmes
That High Lonesome Sound--Peter Rowan and the Nashville Bluegrass Band
Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio?--Ramones
Late Night Radio--Beth Wood
Radio Radio--Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Radio Song--REM
Put Your Records On--Corinne Bailey Rae
Contest Coming (Cripple Creek)--Michelle Shocked
Walk of Life--Dire Straits
One Song Glory--Rent
Number Three--They Might Be Giants
Seymour Stein--Belle and Sebastian
Nashville--Indigo Girls
My Sentimental Melody--The Magnetic Fields
Nothing Like a Song--Azure Ray
Musical Key--Cowboy Junkies
Reva Thereafter--Girlyman
How Can I Keep from Singing?--Pete Seeger
posted by hydropsyche at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2008

Oh, and Horses by Patti Smith (video), which incorporates the lyrics of another song about songs (and their dances), Land of 1000 Dances, originally by Chris Kenner. Here's Wilson Pickett's version of the song.
posted by Kattullus at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2008

I highly secondly recommend "Do you believe in magic?" by the lovin' spoonful.
posted by n y my at 12:42 PM on April 28, 2008

The entire Okkervil River album "The Stage Names". To be fair, some of it is also about TV, but songs like Unless It's Kicks and Plus Ones (spot the references to other songs) are exactly what you're asking for.
posted by version control at 1:36 PM on April 28, 2008

Leonard Cohen Tower of Song
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2008

Queen - Radio Ga Ga
posted by pschuegr at 3:14 PM on April 28, 2008

Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar
posted by pschuegr at 3:16 PM on April 28, 2008

A ton of Pavement songs.. I love Pavement
"Range Life"
"Cut Your Hair"

"Unseen Power of the Picket Fence"
Time after time is my least favorite song!!!!
posted by citron at 8:32 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Grandlife "We in Music" (brilliant house music song about.. house music)
Hole "Rock Star" (the one on Live Through This.. about Olympia WA and the riot grrl thing)
Sebadoh "Gimme Indie Rock"
Lois "Indie"
Sleater-Kinney "The Professional"
Annie "Me Plus One"
posted by citron at 9:03 PM on April 28, 2008

ACDC - Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution.
The Cat Empire - 1, 4, 5 (best answer to a lack of lyrics evar)
posted by pompomtom at 11:29 PM on April 28, 2008

Jamie T - Brand New Bass Guitar
posted by pompomtom at 11:34 PM on April 28, 2008

Robots in Disguise' Turn It Up is all song and album references, even going so far as mentioning a couple of songs by the producer of the song's old band, Sneaker Pimps.

50 Cent has the following bit of lyric in Hate It or Love It: "My favorite rapper used to sing ch-check out my melody." Which is a reference to Eric B. and Rakim's My Melody, which is self-referential. From the lyrics:

Marley Marl synthesized it, I memorize it
Eric B. made a cut and advertised it
My melody's created for MC's in the place
They try to listen cuz I'm dissin them so pick up your face
Shook off your neck cuz you try to detect my pace
Now you're buggin', almost doggin' off my rhyme-like bass
The melody that I'm stylin', smooth as a violin
Rough enough to break New York from Long Island
posted by Kattullus at 3:37 AM on April 29, 2008

Time to Pretend by MGMT.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:44 AM on April 29, 2008

Joe's Garage, by Frank Zappa, if by "song" you mean "double concept album."
posted by Eothele at 10:31 AM on April 29, 2008

The Hit Song by DJ Format and Abdominal
Abdominal has a couple of other songs basically about how great his style is - surf around youtube, you'll find them. This is a common trope in hip hop (my song is so great).
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:07 AM on April 29, 2008

As much as late-era Rod Stewart makes me itch, his "Soul In The City" does seem to be about groovin' to oldies: the chorus goes, "Bring over some of your old Motown Record/We'll put the speakers in the window and we'll go/On the roof and listen to the Miracles echo through the alley down below..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:12 AM on May 2, 2008

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