Self-Referencing In Songs - Classic or Dud?

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Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'd say a bad thing. it depends on the context, but it can appear conceited. And without substantial re-writing, it render's one's songs uncoverable.

MarkH (MarkH), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:16 (eighteen years ago) link

So, do you think it's good when artists' own names are mentioned in songs? The odd thing about it is that the amount to which it happens varies considerably depending on the genre of music. It's ubiquitous in rap, quite common in r&b and various kinds of dance music (eg, KLF) but not nearly so common in metal, punk, emo etc.

MarkH (MarkH), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:18 (eighteen years ago) link

And without substantial re-writing, it render's one's songs uncoverable.

That's a hilarious line.

michael wells (michael w.), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:24 (eighteen years ago) link

It was classic in the '70s, when Steely Dan did it in "Show Biz Kids" ("they got the shapely bodies / they got the Steely Dan t-shirt"). It was kinda unusual back then. And Bo Diddley used to reference himself all the time.

Of course, now every damn hip-hop song has a reference to the artist that performed it. (BTW, speaking of conceited: "Nelly I... love you...")

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:27 (eighteen years ago) link

but she does!

michael wells (michael w.), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:30 (eighteen years ago) link

"my name is prince / and i am funky."

matthew james (matthew james), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:44 (eighteen years ago) link

"Love Action" / "The Look of Love": classic for these alone surely?

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:46 (eighteen years ago) link

"my name is prince / and i am funky."

But he is!

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 10:50 (eighteen years ago) link

For this,

So, I broke into the palace
with a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said, "I know you, and you cannot sing"
I said, "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

and this

It's just like in the old days
I used to compose my own critical notices in my head
The crowd gasps at Cocker's masterful control of the bicycle
Skilfully avoiding the dog turd next to the corner shop
Imagining a blue plaque above the place I first ever touched a girl's chest

and this

This kid comes up to me
Says, "You've gotta raise your game"
The kid is half my age
"Pleased to meet you Mr Haines"

and this

Quick nip next door to the vendor of charisma
because the time, the place and the mood is right
And good old Kevin'll be all right
Here comes "His soul", get your pen and notebooks ready
But you won't look like me
You'll never think like me

classic.


Eyeball Kicks (Eyeball Kicks), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Is And without substantial re-writing, it render's one's songs uncoverable hilarious? I would've thought ppl would want other ppl to cover their songs, so they'd get the royalties. It also makes the song less of an ephemeral thing, less stuck in a particular cultural context.

MarkH (MarkH), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:16 (eighteen years ago) link

What could be romantic to Mike Watt?
He's only a skeleton.
His body is a series of points
with no length, height, width.
In his joints he feels life
His strongest connection
Between the yelling and the sleep
Pain is the toughest riddle.
He's chalk.
He's a dartboard.
His sex is disease.
He's a stop sign.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:45 (eighteen years ago) link

- "Jocko Homo" by Devo (containing the classic call & response query, "Are We Not Men?" -- initially lifted from "The Island of Lost Souls" -- "We Are DEVO!")

- "Julian H. Cope" by....er...Julian Cope

- "Triumphal Theme" by Cop Shoot Cop

- "We're a Happy Family" by the Ramones (sorta....though they never mention their actual name)

- "This is Radio Clash," "We Are the Clash" (the latter being off the abortive CUT THE CRAP album) by the Clash

- "Public Image" by Public Image Ltd.

- "Adrenochrome" by the Sisters of Mercy

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Pretty much all of ORANGE by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion as well.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:48 (eighteen years ago) link

All of those are classic, by the way.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:49 (eighteen years ago) link

DUD: "Video" by India.Arie.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 13:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Bon Jovi made a reference to "Livin' on a Prayer" in "It's My Life."

And by that I mean DUD. A million times DUD.

My name is Kenny, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 14:11 (eighteen years ago) link

'every damn hip-hop song' - maybe this is a sign that self-reference plays a different role in rap than it does in rock, and you shoudn't be as nominally worked up ('damn') as you are over it. (it sounds like saying 'every damn hip-hop song has a beat')

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 14:35 (eighteen years ago) link

search: R.A.M.O.N.E.S by, durr, The Ramones. all of Luke Haines Oliver Twist Manifesto album.

destroy: the song at the end of Youthanasia by Megadeth where Mustaine references all of his hits in the most godawful cheesy way imagineable.

Wyndham Earl, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 14:58 (eighteen years ago) link

(BTW, speaking of conceited: "Nelly I... love you...")

But that's true, too!

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:06 (eighteen years ago) link

"The Story of Them".

Nate Patrin, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:11 (eighteen years ago) link

"R.A.M.O.N.E.S." is actually by Motorhead stalwart Sir Lemmy of Kilmeister. Still, I liked the band's cover well enough.

TMFTML (TMFTML), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:16 (eighteen years ago) link

"I got your body right now on my mind and I drunk myself b-lind
To the sound of old T-Rex
To the sound of old T-Rex - and Who's Next"

You Better You Bet - The Who


"Tell me good Captain, how does it feel
To be driven away from your own steering wheel...."

Upon The My Oh My - Captain Beefheart


"He said 'Captain'
I said...."

Wot! - Captain Sensible

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:29 (eighteen years ago) link

"This is Radio Clash, We Are the Clash (the latter being off the abortive CUT THE CRAP album) by the Clash"

Not to mention Clash City Rockers - but why "abortive"? The album was released.... grated it was an abortION....

.... which reminds me:

"We Are The League" - Anti Nowhere League

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:36 (eighteen years ago) link

"grated" above s/be "graNted" obv.

Actually, on second thoughts....

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:38 (eighteen years ago) link

'every damn hip-hop song' - maybe this is a sign that self-reference plays a different role in rap than it does in rock, and you shoudn't be as nominally worked up ('damn') as you are over it. (it sounds like saying 'every damn hip-hop song has a beat')

Rrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh. "Worked up." Fuck you.

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 15:41 (eighteen years ago) link

'nominally'!

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:10 (eighteen years ago) link

The Clash ripped self-referencing off Bo Diddley. With Tim on 'Love Action'.

stevo (stevo), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:22 (eighteen years ago) link

i tried to warn ilm about the bitter weird faced angry indie girls but did anyone listen!!

simon trife (simon_tr), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:25 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, if you realize that I'm not actually COMPLAINING then what's your point? Oh yes. Your point is to place me on the Pedestal of Dumb Rockists and assume that this notion of "different roles" is completely foreign to me and that I have the intuitive abilities of a piece of looseleaf, right? Gimme some credit, for crying out loud.

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:30 (eighteen years ago) link

bitter weird faced angry indie girls

Er, hardly. I don't even particularly like indie.

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:32 (eighteen years ago) link

sorry jbr you know im just another dumb wigger

simon trife (simon_tr), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:34 (eighteen years ago) link

http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/images/wh9.gif

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:38 (eighteen years ago) link

I never called you that. I used the word in quotation marks to suggest that someone else was saying it.

Jody Beth Rosen, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:39 (eighteen years ago) link

how about gimmie indie rock by sebadoh? that one's pretty sad.

fields of salmon (fieldsofsalmon), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:41 (eighteen years ago) link

S.T.E.V.E.N.
P.U.S.H O. Double eff


Also, not their name but don't New Order play a snip of Love will tear us apart on (forget the track) Brotherhood?

geoffdickens, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:42 (eighteen years ago) link

when something happens in south central ilm, nothin happens...its just another wigger DEAD

simon trife (simon_tr), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:46 (eighteen years ago) link

the "relax" bassline/drums are reprised (or, er, predicted) at the beginning of abc's "date stamp."

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 16:48 (eighteen years ago) link

I think there's a bit at the end of a song (from memory, sorry) on SY's Hold That Tiger live thing where it all collapses and one of the guitars springs up with a two-second chug-chug-chug-bend riff that HAS to be a nascent "Kool Thing."

Also, Ian Svenonius to thread.

g.cannon (gcannon), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 17:07 (eighteen years ago) link

Iggy Pop's "China Girl" - "Oh Jimmy, just you hush your mouth." or whatever he says.

nickn (nickn), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 19:15 (eighteen years ago) link

Can't believe no one's mentioned...

Hang on John / John hang on -- Lennon

Aaron, Tuesday, 1 October 2002 19:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Hang on John / John hang on -- Lennon

Loads of Lennon solo songs (or at least post-Yoko -- "Ballad of...") qualify here. He seems to be more a blurring of the private and public (see also:Eminem) than simply being self-referential.

(also I’ll add Miss Dy-Na-Mi-Tee-Hee and Belle and Sebastian.)

scott pl. (scott pl.), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 19:28 (eighteen years ago) link

Sunrise, wrong side of another day,
Sky high and six thousand miles away,
Don't know how long I've been awake,
Wound up in an amazing state,
Can't get enough,
And you know it's righteous stuff,
Goes up like prices at Christmas,
Motorhead, you can call me Motorhead, alright

Brain dead, total amnesia,
Get some mental anasthesia,
Don't move, I'll shut the door and kill the lights,
And if I can't be wrong I could be right,
All good clean fun,
Have another stick of gum,
Man, you look better already,
Motorhead, remember me now Motorhead, alright

Fourth day, five day marathon,
We're moving like a parallelogram,
Don't move, I'll shut the door and kill the lights,
I guess I'll see you all on the ice,
I should be tired,
And all I am is wired,
Ain't felt this good for an hour,
Motorhead, remember me now, Motorhead alright

Siegbran (eofor), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 19:51 (eighteen years ago) link

You should all be very ashamed at yourselves for this thread getting so far without a nod to the greatest exponents of this outside rap: put your hands together for Mott The Hoople, the greatest self-mythologising act before Eminem!

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 20:04 (eighteen years ago) link

". . . you might find Wildlife in your own backyard"

dan (dan), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 21:57 (eighteen years ago) link

"No my name ain't baby, it's Janet..." etc.

The interesting footnote here is that even this line did not render the song uncoverable.

Kim (Kim), Tuesday, 1 October 2002 23:28 (eighteen years ago) link

so who covered it? And what did they say at this point?

MarkH (MarkH), Wednesday, 2 October 2002 07:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic: Felt's "Ballad of the Band", which is all about Maurice Deebank leaving, and mentions a couple of songs from their previous albums. And Denim's "Back in Denim", amongst others.

Andrew Norman, Wednesday, 2 October 2002 08:36 (eighteen years ago) link

MarkH, I believe it was Killdozer (B side?) and they said the same thing!

Britney's done it live too I think.

Kim (Kim), Wednesday, 2 October 2002 10:24 (eighteen years ago) link

eighteen years pass...

Revive!

I'm delighted I've found this thread because for my regular quiz on Sunday, I've decided to feature a round of self-referencing songs in which the participants aren't told what the theme is - they have to figure it out from a bunch of 15-second intros.

Any others you can think of that were not mentioned in the old thread above (18 years ago!)?

Hot Chip's The Warning, for example, included the gently intoned line "Hot Chip will break your legs".

giraffe, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:10 (one week ago) link

Amy Grant - Saved by Love

aphoristical, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:13 (one week ago) link

Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement
And I won't kill your parents
And roast them on a spit

(Harness your Hopes)

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Friday, 20 November 2020 10:26 (one week ago) link

Iggy Pop - "Dum Dum Boys"

willem, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:31 (one week ago) link

Hallelujah, hallelujah
When Shaun William Ryder
Will lie down beside ya
Fill you full of junk

Happy Mondays - Hallelujah. Love that line!

the article don, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:57 (one week ago) link

Polygon Window "UT1-dot" has an almost indecipherable robo voice that says something akin to 'introducing integration in step with electronic techno music controlled manually by Aphex Twin programs'. The rare self ref in a chin-strokey electronica work, although the track actually slaps.

Sushi and the Banchan (Spectrist), Friday, 20 November 2020 11:21 (one week ago) link

In that case there's also Autechre's Goz Quarter, with a sample of Kool Keith saying something that sounds like (but probably isn't) "jam like autechre"

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Friday, 20 November 2020 11:23 (one week ago) link

Another banger along the same lines is Chaos AD "Mind War Electro" which matter of factly repeats the tag of 'acid mind warp electro recorded by Squarepusher, 1995'

Sushi and the Banchan (Spectrist), Friday, 20 November 2020 11:26 (one week ago) link

And of course "Come on you cunts lets have some Aphex acid!"

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Friday, 20 November 2020 11:28 (one week ago) link

Kool and the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging"

I remember
Not too long ago
I went to a theater
And I saw the Kool & The Gang Show

Bandscamp Fryday (Noodle Vague), Friday, 20 November 2020 11:32 (one week ago) link

it render's one's songs uncoverable.

For some reason I'm reminded of the Pet Shop Boys' "We're The Pet Shop Boys", which is self-referential when they perform it, but is itself a cover of a song by an act (My Robot Friend) who was *not* in fact the Pet Shop Boys. And there's a further cover by Robbie Williams!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 20 November 2020 13:07 (one week ago) link

I feel like The Fall must have something like 37 such songs...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 20 November 2020 13:14 (one week ago) link

Christy Moore, Cabaret:

Your wife says "Oh not Christy Moore, we've heard him loads of times before, We're gonna miss Gay Byrne on the Late Late Show"

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Friday, 20 November 2020 13:36 (one week ago) link

“glass onion”

la table sur la table (voodoo chili), Friday, 20 November 2020 13:42 (one week ago) link

In Luxuria's Against the Past, they mention "Howard DeVoto Boulevard".

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 20 November 2020 16:52 (one week ago) link

There's a much better thread on this here:

Non-rap examples of lyrics where the artist refers to him/herself by name

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 20 November 2020 17:14 (one week ago) link

Thanks for the suggestions on here and the signpost to the other thread.

giraffe, Sunday, 22 November 2020 12:42 (six days ago) link

The New Kids on the Bock celebrate the expanse of their 1.5 year-long career in the song 'Tonight'.

You will notice a small sink where your sofa once was. (Old Lunch), Sunday, 22 November 2020 12:55 (six days ago) link

The discography of Mike Jones

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Sunday, 22 November 2020 14:27 (six days ago) link

Two songs from Sparks:

The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael
The Decline and Fall of Me - "goodbye future Mrs. Mael"

The Roches: The Death Of Suzzy Roche

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 22 November 2020 17:12 (six days ago) link

Are You Jimmy Ray?

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Sunday, 22 November 2020 17:24 (six days ago) link

No, halfway there but for you.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 22 November 2020 17:29 (six days ago) link

UTAH SAINTS

ledge, Monday, 23 November 2020 11:55 (five days ago) link


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