Monday, 30 May 2016

10 Great Songs That Reference Other Artists

Music gets inspiration from various sources. Nature, human emotions and very often other musical artists. But it's not very often that musicians will name drop those inspirational acts in their lyrics, explicitly or not. Let's take a look at 10 songs that do that very thing.

1. Something Corporate - "Konstantine"

Also known as SoCo, sadly, Something Corporate are a pop-punk band from California. They broke up in 2006 and briefly reformed in 2010. Their hey days were definitely the late 90's and early 2000's when pop punk was ruling the radio and some of the most successful touring festivals were headlined sponsored by skateboard companies and headlined by pop punk/ punk/ emo and screamo. "Konstantine" was introduced to me as the "Stairway To Heaven" of our generation. It's an eight minute opus with ups and downs, highs and lows. It also references one of Something Corporate's favourite bands Jimmy Eat World's song "For Me This Is Heaven" and speaking of Jimmy Eat World...

2. Jimmy Eat World - "Kill"

Often cited among influences for many of the young punk bands who formed in the last 15 years Jimmy Eat World, the great champions of emo, have influences and favourite bands themselves. Their song "Kill" off the 2004 album Futures features a nod to Heatmiser, Elliott Smith's former band. It references lyrics from "Half Right" on the record Mic City released in 1996.

3. The Tragically Hip - "Bobcaygeon"

I feel like The Hip have been talked about a lot lately, for some unfortunate reasons, but they have a whole catalog full of great songs to enjoy and talk about. Gord Downie can write about anything and everything and shoehorn several worlds into a single song next to each other. Yes he talks about Willie Nelson early in this song, but the real interesting reference is when he talks about Toronto and it's "checkerboard floor" which in itself could be a reference to the legendary Toronto venue Horseshoe Tavern, which actually had a checkerboard floor. A band that played there frequently was The Men They Couldn't Hang, while there is no proof of them ever inciting a riot there have been a few class-war riots between several groups with that sort of music being partially blamed.

4. Blackie & The Rodeo Kings - "Lean On Your Peers"

Tom Wilson is a Canadian legend in the music world. He's played with many acts and is respected by countless of his own peers. Blackie & The Rodeo Kings' band name itself is a reference to Willie P. Bennett's album Blackie & The Rodeo King, and one of my favourite songs by them is "Lean On Your Peers". One verse in the song talks about Hamilton's punk king and references the legendary Keys to Bala in Ontario's Muskoka region. Though the song calls the character "Hank" I had a feeling it was actually a reference to the lead singer of Hamilton's Teenagehead, Frankie Venom. Tom Wilson tweeted me back when I asked him with the simple response "Who else..right?"

5. Don McLean - "American Pie"

I could do a blog post on just this one song, and I really should some day. Don McLean was very effected by the death of Buddy Holly and wrote the song "American Pie" about it.  While the main theme of the song was him recalling the day "The Music Died" he litters the rest of the lyrics with countless jabs and nods to artists creating music and the state of the scene since the death of Holly. He mentions The Quartet (The Beatles), The Jester (Bob Dylan), The Byrds, Lennon, The Rolling Stone and a girl who sings the blues (Janis Joplin). Honestly one of these days i'll break it all down, it's very intriguing.

6. The Who - "You Better You Bet"

T.Rex were a band largely credited with kicking off the Glam Rock movement in the UK shortly after the 60's came to an end. They released several albums in their few years of existence until their lead singer and key songwriter Marc Bolan was killed in a car accident in 1977. During that brief period they inspired the likes of The Smiths, David Bowie, Siousxie & The Banshees, The Ramones and The Who. David Bowie referenced the band in his song he wrote for Mott The Hoople ("All The Young Dudes) and Pete Townshend included the line "I've drank myself blind to the sounds of ol' T-Rex..." in "You Better You Bet"

7. Hootie & The Blowfish - "Only Wanna Be With You"

"Put on a little Dylan Sittin' On A Fence..." Ever wonder what Darius Rucker was going on about with that line. It was an inside joke reference to an old college band that some of his buddies were in Dillon's Fence. They decided to take it a bit further an reference a few Bob Dylan songs in their own lyrics such as "Idiot Wind" and "Tangled Up In Blue". "Ain't Bobby so cool?" asks Rucker, well Bob Dylan showed just how cool he ain't with people using his lyrics, as he sued Hootie & The Blowfish for copyright infringement and won.

8. Eminem - "Without Me"

I guess not every namedrop in a song is a positive one. At the peak of Eminem's meteoric rise in the late 90's and early 2000's quite a few artists and journalists were vocalizing their aprehension when it came to Slim Shady's lyrical content. As he's done before and since, Eminem felt the need to fire back through song and lyrically threatend Limp Bizkit, Moby and Chris Kirkpatrick of N'Sync in his song "Without Me"

9. The Gaslight Anthem - "High Lonesome"

The Gaslight Anthem's fantastic album The '59 Sound is chock full of references to the band's classic rock inspirations and it comes it in the music as well as the lyrics. Tom Petty and Bob Seger references can be found on other tracks, but "High Lonesome" drops two as it mentions wanting to look like Elvis and also includes the line "At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet, it's a pretty good song baby, you know the rest" An obvious nod to Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire"

10. Alkaline Trio - "We've Had Enough"

Alkaline Trio are another one of those bands with great lyrics that have about a hundred metaphors and similies per minute. And they're usually about death and killing...but in a humourous way. On the second track on their fantastic album Good Mourning, the song is more about annoying songs on the radio and it drops a reference to one of their main influences The Misfits. The Misfits i'm sure inspired countless young punk bands to dress in black, crank the guitars and scream until you're coughing up blood. "We've had enough! Put Walk Among Us on and turn it up!!" Screams Matt Skiba, a reference to the Misfits first major label full length release Walk Among Us in 1982.

Thanks for reading!!

More lists coming and exciting stuff coming real soon!!!!


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