I’ve got a blog post at Afterellen.com today concerning famous songs about famous people. It’s inspired by Full House‘s Dave Coulier recently admitting the song “You Oughtta Know” by Alanis Morissette is about him.
I know, I can’t believe she went down on him in a movie theater either. It’s hard to imagine those two in such a passionate relationship that could skid so wildly out of control, right? I mean, Uncle Joey? At any rate, the drama inspired Alanis to write one of the best break-up songs of all time and it put her on the musical map.
I am fascinated by songs about well-known people. I don’t just mean love songs. I mean songs about famous actors and writers. Lots of bands, including the Eagles, have songs about James Dean. Elton John wrote about Marliyn Monroe in “Candle In The Wind.” Seems like half the bands in existence in the 1990s wrote a song for River Phoenix after he died.
Lots of musicians write homages to other musicians. For example, Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” (Click photo to enlarge:)
It’s a tribute to jazz’s greatest composer Duke Ellington. It also namedrops Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
Or, Sting writing “An Englishman In New York,” about eccentric British writer Quentin Crisp. The Pixies wrote a puzzling song about the man who created the Eiffel Tower (“Alec Eiffel”) proving even architects can be the subject of a pop song. Although, I guess Simon & Garfunkel proved this first in the 1960s with “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.”
How about these:
Sonic Youth, Madonna, Sean and Me (Madonna, Sean Penn)
The Commodores, Night Shift (Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson)
Toto, Rosanna (Rosanna Arquette)
R.E.M., Man on the Moon (Andy Kauffman)
Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Bela Lugosi)
Bertie Higgins, Key Largo (Humprhey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Judy Collins)
10,000 Maniacs, Hey Jack Kerouac (Jack Kerouac)
The Replacements, Alex Chilton (Big Star’s Alex Chilton)
Bryan Ferry, Kiss & Tell (Ferry’s ex-girlfriend Jerry Hall)
Joan Baez, Diamonds & Rust (Baez’s ex-boyfriend Bob Dylan)
I’ve done quite literally hours of research on the subject. If any agents read this, I’m ready to pen the book.
What’s your favorite musical homage? Or, maybe it’s a kiss-off song to a well-known somebody?