Songs that are aware of themselves

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What are some songs where the lyrics include references to the song being written?

Famous Athlete, Monday, 16 December 2002 04:41 (eighteen years ago) link

Probably my favorite example: "I Wrote a Song For Everyone" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

paul cox (paul cox), Monday, 16 December 2002 04:43 (eighteen years ago) link

Elton John, "Your Song"
But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song

Earth, Wind, and Fire, "I'll Write a Song For You"
Open our music book, that only few can look, and I'll write a song for you

Weezer, "Across The Sea"
Tenacious D, "Tribute"

Famous Athlete, Monday, 16 December 2002 04:46 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh! and The Silver Jews, "New Orleans"
"We're trapped inside the song, where the nights are so long"

Famous Athlete, Monday, 16 December 2002 04:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Al Green, L-O-V-E
Pulp, Something Changed
Prince, 1999

There's a Minutemen example (at least one) that I can't think of.

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 16 December 2002 04:55 (eighteen years ago) link

Yachts, "Suffice to Say"

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 16 December 2002 04:58 (eighteen years ago) link

"You're so vain", obviously.

webcrack (music=crack), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Robbie Williams's "Strong": "And that's a nice line to take it to the bridge" - the worst line ever written.

Charlie (Charlie), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:12 (eighteen years ago) link

"This is Not a Love Song" - PiL

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Sparks, "I Predict"

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:15 (eighteen years ago) link

"Strong" is the worst SONG ever written, Charlie

robin carmody (robin carmody), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Sorry, that's what I meant.

Charlie (Charlie), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:32 (eighteen years ago) link

neil young's "borrowed tune" is the best one in terms of explicitly referring to the writer writing the song (as opposed to just the song).

one of the aforementioned minutemen songs is "self-referenced".

dan (dan), Monday, 16 December 2002 05:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Mutabaruka, "Dis Poem."

Douglas, Monday, 16 December 2002 06:02 (eighteen years ago) link

Radiohead, "A Reminder"

Melissa W (Melissa W), Monday, 16 December 2002 06:22 (eighteen years ago) link

on protect ya neck - "not long is how long that this rhyme took me" i think courtesy of inspectah deck

brains (cerybut), Monday, 16 December 2002 07:52 (eighteen years ago) link

Robert Wyatt - O Caroline

tigerclawskank, Monday, 16 December 2002 10:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Radiohead, "My Iron Lung"

Melissa W (Melissa W), Monday, 16 December 2002 10:20 (eighteen years ago) link

The Beatles - Only a Northern Song (? - can't remember the lyrics)

michael (michael), Monday, 16 December 2002 10:27 (eighteen years ago) link

NOFX - Please Play This Song On The Radio

And does Pixies' Tony's Theme count? It's got that neat 'this is a song about a superhero called Tony. it's called Tony's Theme'-intro.

jg, Monday, 16 December 2002 10:29 (eighteen years ago) link

"This is just a modern Rock song" by Belle and Sebastian

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Monday, 16 December 2002 10:30 (eighteen years ago) link

One Note Samba – Tom Jobim
This is just a little samba, built upon a single note
Other notes are bound to follow, but the root is still that note

Billy Bragg – New England
I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I’m 22 now but won’t be for long

H (Heruy), Monday, 16 December 2002 10:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Pulp, Something Changed


gazuga (gazuga), Monday, 16 December 2002 11:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Steely Dan "Deacon Blues"
I cried when I wrote this song, sue me if I play to long

man, Monday, 16 December 2002 11:34 (eighteen years ago) link

"I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio"
- Monty Python

weatheringdaleson (weatheringdaleson), Monday, 16 December 2002 12:13 (eighteen years ago) link

This Is Not A Song - Frank & Walters

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Monday, 16 December 2002 13:56 (eighteen years ago) link

Badly Drawn Boy:

This Song will be here when you're old
This Song will heat you when you're cold
Believe you when I don't
This Song will heal from your soul

This Song will help you find a place to live
And teach you not to take but give
This Song will help you on your dying doubts
This Song song will send your lover flowers
Rest by this Song and the peace it brings
Beautiful song it has wings

James Ball (James Ball), Monday, 16 December 2002 14:24 (eighteen years ago) link

"strong" the worst song ever written?

certainly in the running, but robin you clearly have yet to avail yrself of the wonderless wonder that is "escapology" the album, all of which makes "strong" sound like "who knows where the time goes."

Marcello Carlin, Monday, 16 December 2002 14:29 (eighteen years ago) link

"Robert Mitchum" by Julian Cope

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 16 December 2002 14:35 (eighteen years ago) link

The Beatles, "A Little Help from My Friend"

I always hear "Deacon Blues" as a sort of joke on that.

hstencil, Monday, 16 December 2002 14:37 (eighteen years ago) link

Also, Guided by Voices - "Dusty Bushworms"

"This song will hold you in its arms
This song will fill you with its charms"

hstencil, Monday, 16 December 2002 14:38 (eighteen years ago) link

cold play - yello

minna (minna), Monday, 16 December 2002 14:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Second verse,
Same as th first,
Jackie is a punk
Judy is a runt"

Judy Is Punk - Ramones

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Monday, 16 December 2002 14:58 (eighteen years ago) link

There's this great old Sun rockabilly obscurity called "Jump Right Out of This Jukebox" by one Onie Wheeler. The song is sung from the point of view of, ahem, the song. In it, the song promises that if the lonely lady who just walked in will play him/it, he will "jump right outta that jukebox" and make her blues go away. Not exactly on topic, but pretty bizarre nonetheless.

Lee G (Lee G), Monday, 16 December 2002 15:08 (eighteen years ago) link

One of my friends is in a psychedelic punk band that have a song called "The Restaurant" and the lines of the middle 8 are:

There was time in winter
There was parsley on my plate
I couldn't leave The Restaurant
So I left the middle 8

It's kinda clever.

Adam Bruneau, Monday, 16 December 2002 15:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Pink Floyd, "Mother" -- "Mother, do you think they'll like this song?"

Phil (phil), Monday, 16 December 2002 16:23 (eighteen years ago) link

(There are other Pink Floyd examples, like "Jugband Blues")

Phil (phil), Monday, 16 December 2002 16:24 (eighteen years ago) link

Robyn Hitchcock, "I Something You":

In this kind of song
Middle bits are so predictable
But you came along
You were not at all predictable

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 16 December 2002 16:47 (eighteen years ago) link

There's "(Otto Make That) Riff Staccato" by D. Ellington, where the lyric details how the individual parts should be performed.

"Michelle" by The Beatles is arguable.

Amateurist (amateurist), Monday, 16 December 2002 17:36 (eighteen years ago) link

"Yachts, "Suffice to Say""

Aaah yes, "It's short and sweet and to the point...."(?). Good call Jody ("Can't say that I blame you...."), I'm going to have to dig that one out and blow the dust off it when I get home now!

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Monday, 16 December 2002 17:40 (eighteen years ago) link

They Might Be Giants' "Number 3"


"there's only two songs in me, and I just wrote the third
don't know where I got the inspiration or how I wrote the words
spent my whole life just digging up my music's shallow grave
for the two songs in me and the third one I just made"

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 16 December 2002 17:51 (eighteen years ago) link

L.L. Cool J: "I Need a Beat," "My Rhyme Ain't Done," "Mama Said Knock You Out" ("Olde English filled my mind / And I came up with a funky rhyme"). Actually, most hip-hop to thread.

Matt C., Monday, 16 December 2002 17:51 (eighteen years ago) link

Songs That Celebrate Themselves

gygax!, Monday, 16 December 2002 18:07 (eighteen years ago) link

In the closing refrain of Ja Rule & Bobby Brown's "Thug Lovin'" (a song I've become hatefully obsessed with due to its sheer, implausible awfulness), the diminutive Mr.Rule humbly exclaims at a decidedly non-civil volume, "This is what we buildin' here - Classic Shit!", referring, I'm supposing, to the song in question.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:12 (eighteen years ago) link

Signed Curtain by Matching Mole

Zora (Zora), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:16 (eighteen years ago) link

Pixies own this, from the 'Trompe Le Monde' title track:

go little record go
it is named by
some guy named joe
and the words
are the letters of the words
electrically played
for outer space and those of they who paid
this song is twice ocurred
and now its time to go
away on holiday.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:32 (eighteen years ago) link

Camper Van Beethoven - Joe Stalin's Cadilac (Where's The Bridge?)
Built To Spill - Joyride
TMBG - Number Three
Sloan - G Turns To D (And You'll turn to Me [not E] and you'll say...)

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:48 (eighteen years ago) link

Aletha & the Memories (Kim Fowley)-"The Worst Record in the World".

Arthur (Arthur), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:59 (eighteen years ago) link

nobody put Sk8terboi! In which she's singing the song they wrote about the girl IN the song they wrote about the girl.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 16 December 2002 23:44 (eighteen years ago) link

Ray Charles: A Song For You
half of all rap songs ever written

Jay K (Jay K), Monday, 16 December 2002 23:49 (eighteen years ago) link

Wire, "map ref"

Lukas Bergstrom (lukas), Tuesday, 28 January 2003 20:38 (eighteen years ago) link

on protect ya neck - "not long is how long that this rhyme took me" i think courtesy of inspectah deck

rather, cherchez la ghost

gabbneb (gabbneb), Wednesday, 29 January 2003 05:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Elton John "This Song's Got No Title" and...well, ALL of CAPTAIN FANTASTIC.

matt riedl (veal), Wednesday, 29 January 2003 14:20 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...
You guys missed the best one

The Monkees: Pleasant Valley Sunday

"The local rock group down the street is trying hard to learn this song"

That is such an underrated line.

Cunga (Cunga), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 08:44 (sixteen years ago) link

and what about "Why do I find it hard to write the next line"

which is the worst, as he keeps going SAYING THAT!!!

(Spandau Ballet, True, for the USA bods)

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 08:56 (sixteen years ago) link

You guys missed the best one

Mekons: Empire of the Senseless

"They took away our films and tapes and notebooks but it's OK, we self-censored this song. But these lines are all individuals! And there's no such thing as this song."

"This song promotes homosexuality. It's in a pretended family relationship with the others on this record. And on the charts and on the jukebox. And in the radio."

That is such an underrated song.

zero, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 09:00 (sixteen years ago) link

The Wake - "O Pamela" ("But my hand was shaking as I wrote this page...")

Ian Riese-Moraine has been xeroxed into a conduit! (Eastern Mantra), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 15:41 (sixteen years ago) link

No, no, nononoNO, all ya'll missed the best one. The one that can move me across the room and bring me to tears...

"I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour,
drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine,
don't think you knew you were in this song..."

David Bowie, 5 Years. But Borrowed Tune comes a close 2nd.

Joseph B. Cowart (flamingrev), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 15:52 (sixteen years ago) link

Justin Timberlake, "Rock Your Body" ("Gonna have you naked by the end of this song...")

jaymc (jaymc), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 15:53 (sixteen years ago) link

As if to entwine this thread a little further, two of the above self-references were in fact stolen from other songs, ie:

Billy Bragg – New England
I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I’m 22 now but won’t be for long
Nicked from Paul Simon: Leaves That Are Green

Second verse,
Same as th first,
Judy Is Punk - Ramones
Nicked from Herman's Hermits (et al): I'm Henry The Eighth I Am

harvey.w (harvey.w), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 15:58 (sixteen years ago) link

"and you know what's worse?
you was just like that nigga in the first verse"

- True to the Game, Ice Cube

tremendoid (tremendoid), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 16:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Madonna - "Beautiful Stranger" ("That's why I'm singing this song to you")

Seb (Seb), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 16:36 (sixteen years ago) link

the rentals - waiting

Fetchboy (Felcher), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 16:41 (sixteen years ago) link

(Spandau Ballet, True, for the USA bods)

I think this song was top 5 in the USA too.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 16:42 (sixteen years ago) link

This is a sad fuckin' song
We'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying

How does it feel?
Your night light, your curling iron
Lit up by the sweat of others,
For many's the day
But not from November to May

The floor is littered
With woodchips and apple cores
And hulls (holes?) of acorns
There is a chattering sound

Because they were squirrels; real squirrels.
(And there were thousands)
This isn't some kind of metaphor,
Goddamn, this is real

latebloomer: the Clonus Horror (latebloomer), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 16:45 (sixteen years ago) link

No no no, THIS is the best: "Her Name Is" by George Jones...

Oh I love her, and I just can't live without her
And I've got the urge to tell the world about her
But our love's a secret and can't see the light of day
But I went and wrote this love song anyway
Her name is [twang]
Her eyes are [twang]
Her hair is just like [twang]
And she measures [twang]
Oh someday, I'll fill in the lines when she and I are free
And we'll walk in the sunshine, [twang] and me

Still fitting (I think) but less awesome, though not by much:

1. "Another Irish Drinking Song," DaVinci's Notebook,
2. "Title of the Song," DVN,
3. "Meaningless Songs In Very High Voices" by Hee Bee Gee Bees, once they sing "The world is very very big and bacon comes from a pig but it's you I really want on my plate,"
4. "The Most Offensive Song Ever" from Kenny and Mr Hankey ("'Cause you can *mmph mmph mmph mmph* and still be a virgin, Mary!"), 5. "Silly Love Songs," Wings, and
6. "That's Evolution!" by Wally Pleasant ("Jesse Pickerel[sp?], why don't you just take it away! [musical interlude] Oh, Jesse, give it back!")

Nackles (Nackles), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Coincidence - I thought of this very notion when I heard Lighthouse's "Sunny Days" on the radio an hour ago.

So, "Sunny Days" by Lighthouse: "it was four in the afternoon when I wrote this tune."

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:11 (sixteen years ago) link

And in a similiar vein to the Squerrrl Song:

This is the song against itself
It's of two minds of its own
The discussion brough to logical conclusion
It follows through
But is not true

We'll just write a song against itself
Why do you act like you don't know
What in the world i'm talking about?
It follows through
You have no clue

danski (danski), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:12 (sixteen years ago) link

The mistakes are not mine, but I accept full responsibility for them.

danski (danski), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Okkervil River - Get Big
"And once we get to the end of this song, then another will begin."

pinder (pinder), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:26 (sixteen years ago) link

Elton John, "This Song Has No Title"

"Cause this song has no title/just words and a tune."

kornrulez6969 (TCBeing), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:33 (sixteen years ago) link

ilx is meta-crazy.

AaronK (AaronK), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 17:48 (sixteen years ago) link

The Organ - "Brother"

daavid (daavid), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 18:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Wilco, "Someone Else's Song," is one of my favorites:

Well I can't tell you anything
You don't already know
I keep on trying
I should just let it go

I keep on singing
Your eyes, they just roll
It sounds like someone else's song
From a long time ago

You already know the story
And the chords are just the same
You already know I love you
And I sound like what's his name

But you can't stop me
I want you to know
I know it sounds like someone else's song
From a long time ago

(played like faux-Hank Williams on the record, and like Led Zepplin live)


Steve Goodman/David Allan Coe, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" (extended ambiguity about whether it's a song to a rejecting lover or to a rejecting public, then spoken-word interlude about how Goodman told Coe it was the perfect country song, and Coe said it couldn't be the perfect country song if it didn't say anything about getting drunk, or mama, or prison, or trucks, or trains, followed by Goodman's response -- a final verse involving all of the foregoing).

Bright Eyes, "Take It Easy, Love Nothing" (If you stay too long inside my memory / I will put you in a song tied to a melody / And I'll keep you there so you can't bother me)

Shari Lewis, "The Song That Never Ends" (This is the song that ne-ver ends / Yes it goes on and on my friends / Some people started singing it not knowing what it was / And they'll continue singing it forever just because / This is the song that ne-ver ends . . . )

Vornado, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 18:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Uncle Tupelo - "Life Worth Living"

Will(iam), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 18:26 (sixteen years ago) link

New Riders of The Purple Sage-Lonesome L.A. Cowboy

Marxism Goes Better With Coke (Charles McCain), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 20:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I think it could be argued that all songs are "aware of themselves." I suppose what's meant here though is really "songs that refer to themselves."

Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 20:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Neil Young-pardon My Heart ("I don't believe this song")

Marxism Goes Better With Coke (Charles McCain), Wednesday, 6 July 2005 20:51 (sixteen years ago) link

do songs have consciousness?

matlewis, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 20:59 (sixteen years ago) link

more neil young:

"borrowed tune" ("i'm singing this borrowed tune/i took from the rolling stones..."

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 7 July 2005 03:50 (sixteen years ago) link

dammit, someone else noted borrowed tune a long time ago. apple-F just isn't working for me like it used to.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 7 July 2005 03:52 (sixteen years ago) link

The Wonder Stuff - Our New Song ("we're not afraid to write a pop song!")

The Drugs - Pop Song ("This is our number one pop song choor-us/we're hoping that it makes a million dollars for us")

kit brash (kit brash), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:17 (sixteen years ago) link

"This Song" - George Harrison
"Love Song" - Brinsley Schwarz

k/l (Ken L), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:22 (sixteen years ago) link

Would "Glass Onion" count? It's certainly aware of itself.

I believe Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" is actually about trying to write a song, no?

Maybe I'm waaay offbase...

PappaWheelie (PappaWheelie), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Anything ever done on a mixtape or 2/3 of modern hip-hop remixes? Not to mention all the R. Kelly remixes... hot and fresh out the kitchen.

mike h. (mike h.), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Spin Doctors "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," "I hope you heard this song, and it pissed you off."

And, of course, Weird Al to thread, cf. "This song is just six words long."

The Mad Puffin (The Mad Puffin), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I really dislike it when my songs mysteriously grow a consciousness and gain the ability of self-knowledge.

Mickey (modestmickey), Thursday, 7 July 2005 14:49 (sixteen years ago) link

"borrowed tune" still otm (or do ppl say "pwns this thread" nowadays?)

marc h., Thursday, 7 July 2005 15:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Raspberry Fields by Cannibal Ox has a bit where Vast Aire rhymes a word with itself then says "Oh shit, i said a word twice" and starts again from the beginning, using a different word the second time round.

Also Squirrel song ("This is a sad fucking song! We'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying") and Song Against Itself, both by Shellac.

Posadist, Thursday, 7 July 2005 17:18 (sixteen years ago) link

actually, scrolling up, somebody already mentioned those last two. I did a text search for Shellac but didn't find anything.

Posadist, Thursday, 7 July 2005 17:20 (sixteen years ago) link

"Jam On It" - Newcleus.

k/l (Ken L), Thursday, 7 July 2005 17:31 (sixteen years ago) link

"Hey man, listen to me, I'm on the stereo!" - Pavement

Mike Dixn (Mike Dixon), Thursday, 7 July 2005 18:36 (sixteen years ago) link

more Neil Young - the amazing "Ambulance Blues": he says "hard to say the meaning of this song" before he gets sucked back in.

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Friday, 8 July 2005 16:40 (sixteen years ago) link

sixteen years pass...

well, i wrote this song
with a vamp in the middle
and i knew when i wrote it
that i'd written it for the fiddle

no lime tangier, Thursday, 18 November 2021 04:06 (two weeks ago) link

Songs that get all meta and mention 'this song' in the lyrics

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 18 November 2021 06:18 (two weeks ago) link

This is the first verse
This is the first verse
This is the first verse, the first, the first
And this is the first verse, verse, first verse
And this is the first verse, verse
This is the first verse

And this is the chorus
Or perhaps it's a bridge
Or just another part of the song that I'm singing

And this is the second verse
It could be the last verse
This is the second verse, second verse, second verse
It could be the last verse, last verse
And this is the second verse
But it's probably the last one

And this is the chorus
Or perhaps it's a bridge
Or just another key change
Never mind, it doesn't hurt
It only means that I lost faith in this song
'Cause it won't help me reach you

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 18 November 2021 06:38 (two weeks ago) link

Yes sir, already told you in the first verse and in the chorus,
But I will give you one more chance...

fetter, Thursday, 18 November 2021 08:16 (two weeks ago) link

Now hear this Robert Zimmerman, I wrote a song for you...

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 18 November 2021 10:33 (two weeks ago) link

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