Song titles within a song – Discuss


I’ve always loved the Arctic Monkeys from the first time I heard them.  Whatever you may think of Alex Turner’s morph into a parody of himself, there’s no denying his gift for lyrics.  To me his songs are like poetry that show me a glimpse of life as a teen in Sheffield or into the mind of a man making drunken lustful calls to a woman he’s obsessed with.  I find them constantly fascinating and appealing; it helps that I like the guitars and drums of their typical sound.  I listen to them less frequently now, but when I do, their tunes lighten my mood and lift my spirit.  There’s always something new to hear.  That’s where this post comes from.

I had their last album, AM, on in the background the other day and the song Knee Socks came on.  Another ditty about getting it on with someone you fancy.  Out of the blue I noticed a line which I’d clearly heard many times before but only just clocked – it’s near the back end of the song and finishes the chorus sections:

Like the beginning of Mean Streets
You could be my baby

As soon as I heard the line, the image of Harvey Keitel’s head hitting the pillow to The Ronette’s singing Be My Baby in the opening scene of that film flashed through my head.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 16.44.10

Lots of artists mention other musicians in their songs, but not many incorporate other song titles into their lyrics (Pavement don’t count – they only listed R.E.M song titles as an homage to Stipe et al).

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to discuss this issue.  What do you know about all of this?  Share your tracks where the band/musician has used a song title as part of their lyrics.

16 thoughts on “Song titles within a song – Discuss

  1. Well that’s a challenge.

    So many references to songs in other’s songs:

    Gaslight Anthem continually reference Springsteen songs, one of them Meet Me At The River’s Edge mentions three: “The River” in the title, “No Surrender”, and “Bobby Jean”;

    High Lonesome takes lyrics direct from I’m On Fire “And at night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet, It’s a pretty good song, baby you know the rest”.

    Whiskey Myers reference “When The Levee Breaks” in Early Morning Shakes.

    Hootie and the Blowfish: Dylan reportedly sued them for Only Wanna Be With You which references three songs from Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album.

    One verse of the song describes “putting on a little Dylan -“The lyric “sittin’ on a fence” quotes Dylan’s “You’re a Big Girl Now.” The song then references and quotes extensively from the next song on the album, Dylan’s “Idiot Wind”. The song then mentions Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue.

    Put on a little Dylan sitting on a fence
    I say that line is great, you ask me what I meant by
    Said, I shot a man named Gray, took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
    I can’t help it if I’m lucky
    I only wanna be with you
    Ain’t Bobby so cool
    I only wanna be with you
    Yeah I’m tangled up and blue
    I only wanna be with you
    You can call me your fool
    Only wanna be with you

    That’s a start.

    Playlist and some more later.

  2. I guess this was the ultimate example of what you’re talking about. I think it was actually credited as “trad – arranged by John Lees”, perhaps in order to fend off any potential court cases.

    Barclay James Harvest were one of the bands I really loved before punk took over my life for a few years and, unlike Pink Floyd for example, I never quite recaptured the same feelings after the dust had settled.

    • Thinking about it, Titles was only the most extreme example of this kind of behaviour by BJH.

      “Poor Man’s Moody Blues” was so named because an unkind critic had used the phrase to describe them.
      The song itself almost-but-not-quite quotes lyrically and musically from Nights In White Satin.

      Then again “The Great 1974 Mining Disaster” performs very much the same Rutles-style trick with the similarly named Bee Gees song.

    • OMG, what a blast from the past. (My friend and I liked BJH so much we both embroidered butterflies – hers on her dungarees and mine on the back of my cord jacket. How long ago!)

      • Oddly enough, when I searched for Titles on Youtube I turned up so many other songs that I remembered, I went on a bit of a BJH binge.
        I used to have the 1974 live album which functioned as a kind of greatest hits so far and the following studio album “Time Honoured Ghosts”.
        I sold both of them to Record and Tape Exchange in 1977 and I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t.

  3. I used to have a single by a US band Time Bomb 77 called 77 In 95 which referenced a lot of 70s street punk song titles such as Where Have All The Bootboys Gone, Runnin Riot etc.

    The Final Conflict by Conflict goes a step further and features a load of their own song titles at the end!

    And of course The Clash – Complete Control
    “They said release Remote Control…”

  4. How about …

    Danny And The Dressmakers – If The Kids Were United They’d Throw Bricks At Jimmy Pursey

  5. Don’t know what’s going on with YT this morning but it won’t allow me to add certain videos to a playlist!!

    Here’s another one from Snow Patrol – Hands Open

    Put Sufjan Stevens on
    And we’ll play your favorite song
    ‘Chicago’ bursts to life and your
    Sweet smile remembers you, my…

  6. In this homage to the boss there’s reference to several of his tunes:

    Somewhere between that setting sun, I’m On Fire and Born To Run
    You looked at me and I was done, we were just getting started

    When you hear Born In The USA
    Do you relive those Glory Days from so long ago

    Eric Church – Springsteen

  7. One of the best set of lyrics ever written (I thing I might have to get this over to RR):

    Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – ‘Toby Take a Bow’

    i’ve never seen you so awful
    i found you at the bottom of a russian novel
    gold medal and a crown
    a cardigan and a frown
    all maladjusted and clever
    the greatest smiths fan ever
    your picture in the papers
    the captions shout
    “there is a boy and he never goes out”
    that same song on repeat
    you haven’t left the house in weeks
    won’t even come out for dinner
    toby grace, world record winner
    i guess you thought it’d make you feel better somehow
    but heaven knows your miserable now
    heaven knows your miserable now
    heaven knows your miserable now
    so toby take a bow

  8. late to the game, Tim Rice did the lyrics for Disney’s Alladin and sneaked a few old song titles for the mums and dads to spot .. over under sideways down from the Yardbirds in Whole New World
    me fave proggies Yes couldn’t resist putting Yes into the chorus of loads of songs .. but that’s a different game

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