Songs about other singers: C/D

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Not diss tracks or songs that just list a bunch of singers (Losing My Edge, Sir Duke) or even ironic references ("Buddy Holly" by Weezer). More like songs that earnestly extol the greatness of another singer.

Some examples:

ABC - "When Smokey Sings" (Smokey Robinson)
William Bell - "Tribute to a King" (Otis Redding)
The Commodores - "Nightshift" (Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, both of whom died the year before)
The Replacements - "Alex Chilton"
Dexys Midnight Runner - "Geno" (Geno Washington)
MGMT - "Brian Eno"
Sublime - "KRS-One"
Unrest - "Cath Carroll"
Cat Power - "Song to Bobby" (Dylan)

Classic or Dud? Personally, I feel like these songs are kinda second-tier by definition: if you're calling out another artist as the absolute GOAT, then you've already admitted that you're not going to clear that bar. (that said, I probably prefer the replacements song to anything by Big Star)

enochroot, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 02:55 (two weeks ago) link

Steely Dan - “Hey Nineteen” (Aretha Franklin)
Dexy’s Midnight Runners - “Come On Eileen” (Johnnie Ray)
Eddie Money - “Take Me Home Tonight” (Ronnie Spector)

Josefa, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:03 (two weeks ago) link

Unless you mean the ENTIRE song is about the singer, in which case that’s different

Josefa, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:05 (two weeks ago) link

Bernard Purdie - Song for Aretha

feel like there were some more notable aretha tributes in the 70s but i can't find them atm

, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:08 (two weeks ago) link

I think Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” was pretty much all about Joni Mitchell

Josefa, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 03:14 (two weeks ago) link

Elton John “Empty Garden”
David Bowie “Lady Stardust”
U2 “Angel of Harlem”
Maroon 5 “Moves Like Jagger”
Falco “Rock Me Amadeus”

vmajestic, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 04:55 (two weeks ago) link

Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said

that's not my post, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:02 (two weeks ago) link

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet

Best song about Elvis and it’s also one of the best songs to strip to.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:13 (two weeks ago) link

Is Elvis the artist with more songs dedicated to him?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_about_or_referencing_Elvis_Presley

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:14 (two weeks ago) link

TIL: Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus is about Elvis

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:22 (two weeks ago) link

Xpost that’s a lot of Elvis songs

that's not my post, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:31 (two weeks ago) link

London Wainwright - Talking New Bob Dylan

that's not my post, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:32 (two weeks ago) link

^Loudon

that's not my post, Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:32 (two weeks ago) link

B-52's: "Debbie" (Debbie Harry)

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 12 October 2021 05:49 (two weeks ago) link

David Bowie: "Song for Bob Dylan"
Tim Hardin: "Tribute to Hank Williams"
Roberta Flack et al: "Killing Me Softly with His Song" (Don McLean)
The Fall: "I Am Damo Suzuki"
George Harrison: "Pure Smokey" (Robinson)

Halfway there but for you, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:06 (two weeks ago) link

^Loudon

They spelled his name wrong again!

Spiral Scratchiti (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:10 (two weeks ago) link

Ian Dury: "Sweet Gene Vincent"

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:11 (two weeks ago) link

Billy Bragg: "Levi Stubb's Tears"

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:11 (two weeks ago) link

I have no doubt it was autocorrect that was the culprit though/xp

Spiral Scratchiti (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:11 (two weeks ago) link

Heinz - “Just Like Eddie” (Eddie Cochran)

Josefa, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:16 (two weeks ago) link

feel like there were some more notable aretha tributes in the 70s but i can't find them atm

George Jackson: Aretha, Sing One for Me

bulb after bulb, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:23 (two weeks ago) link

that's what i was thinking of! spotify throws both of those songs at me every chance it gets

, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:28 (two weeks ago) link

Cornershop - “Brimful of Asha” (Asha Bhosle)

Josefa, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:31 (two weeks ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DczFkofRtuA

xzanfar, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:40 (two weeks ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp0JLqc8oTQ

xzanfar, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 01:42 (two weeks ago) link

Waylon Jennings: "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way"

David Alan Coe: "Waylon, Willie & Me"

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 03:18 (two weeks ago) link

Daniel Johnson: "Ain't No Woman Gonna Make A George Jones Outta Me"

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 03:19 (two weeks ago) link

The Band: "Bessie Smith"

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 03:26 (two weeks ago) link

speaking of: katie's been gone is supposedly about karen dalton, as is the holy modal rounders sally in the alley (though can't remember where i read that)

no lime tangier, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 03:37 (two weeks ago) link

Dave Alvin "Johnny Ace is Dead"

earlnash, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 10:46 (two weeks ago) link

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper "Elvis is Everywhere"

Classic.

Thelonius Monster "Sammy Hagar Weekend"

earlnash, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 10:54 (two weeks ago) link

American Music Club - Johnny Mathis' Feet

ledge, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 10:56 (two weeks ago) link

Led Zeppelin - Hats Off to (Roy) Harper
Atom & His Package - Hats Off to Halford

peace, man, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 11:30 (two weeks ago) link

the Who - “God Speaks of Marty Robbins,” “Real Good Looking Boy” (the latter about Elvis)

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 11:56 (two weeks ago) link

Sparks "Lighten Up, Morrissey"
Warlock Pinchers "Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse"

fetter, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 12:21 (two weeks ago) link

songs that earnestly extol the greatness of another singer.

Kim Kimberly, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 12:26 (two weeks ago) link

The Lion - "Bing Crosby" and "The Four Mills Brothers" (covered by Van Dyke Parks on Discover America)
Makes me wonder whether songs earnestly praising other singers were a common trope in 30s/40s Calypso music, or whether it was a quirk unique to the Roaring Lion. Should probably look into this...

J. Sam, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 12:41 (two weeks ago) link

Todd Rundgren - "Baby Let's Swing" (Laura Nyro)
Cosmic Rough Riders - "Laura Nyro"

henry s, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 12:50 (two weeks ago) link

Jimmy Webb - "P.F. Sloan"

J. Sam, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 13:06 (two weeks ago) link

I was going to mention that one but that's really about him as a songwriter.

Madness, "Prince Buster"

Starmer: "Let the children boogie, let all the children boogie." (Tom D.), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 13:13 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah I was on the fence about "P.F. Sloan" but he literally says "listen to him singing" so I'd count it. Prefab Sprout's "The Songs of Danny Galway" (about Webb) seems to be just about the songs tho

J. Sam, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 13:23 (two weeks ago) link

Sparks "Lighten Up, Morrissey"
Warlock Pinchers "Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse"


also not extolling the greatness:
Mr Floppy “100,000 Morrisseys”

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 14:53 (two weeks ago) link

Sparks also have “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me),” and “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’?” in which the singer aspires to the heights of Frank Sinatra, or failing that, Sid Vicious.

Makes me wonder whether songs earnestly praising other singers were a common trope in 30s/40s Calypso music

Sinatra also praised in the Calypso record “Bobby Sox Idol” by Wilmoth Houdini, sampled by The Avalanches on “Frankie Sinatra,” with lightly Sinatra-referencing lyrics by Danny Brown.

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:04 (two weeks ago) link

The Knife - You Take My Breath Away is mutual lovein by/about Karin + Jenny Wilson

"I'm in the first row on your show, in the first row
On the First Floor Power show
Your vibrato's like vulnerable leaves
You do it crazy, that's how you talk to me"

"I heard you for the first time on the radio
When I was going somewhere in a car
You touched my heart, like a knife that's very sharp"

kinder, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:13 (two weeks ago) link

The Mountain Goats have lots about artists in other nonmusical media but some fitting this thread include:
"Song for Dennis Brown"
"Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds"
"Abandoned Flesh" (Gene Loves Jezebel)
"Waylon Jennings Live!"

It's not about a singer or by a singer but my favorite musical elegy song is "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by Charles Mingus about Lester Young. I know I've heard versions with lyrics that someone wrote to it, can't remember who.

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:19 (two weeks ago) link

The band Helen Love has multiple songs about Joey Ramone, and the song “Debbie Loves Joey” adds Deborah Harry as a metaphor for glamour and excitement felt by teenage lovers.

Another act used as a relationship metaphor: “We’re The Pet Shop Boys” by My Robot Friend.

(also covered by the Pet Shop Boys live, as a B-side, and backing Robbie Williams.)

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:37 (two weeks ago) link

(love Helen Love)

Dylan:

"Song to Woody Guthrie" (also "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie")
"Blind Willie McTell"
"High Water (For Charlie Patton)"
"Roll On John" (Lennon)
"Mr. Tambourine Man" (Bruce Langhorne)

bulb after bulb, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 15:58 (two weeks ago) link


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