Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Singing about celebrities is like ...

In a recent comment, Bankston linked me to the term 'star-fucker.' Which got me thinking.

Here's a ranked list of songs about (and titled to) celebrities.

10. "Michael Stipe" - P (featuring Gibby Haynes, Bill Carter, Sal Jenco and Johnny Depp)
9. "Andy Warhol" - David Bowie
8. "MLK" - U2
7. "Lenny Bruce" - Bob Dylan
6. "What Would Willie Do" - Bruce Robison
5. "I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night" - Billy Bragg
4. **"Wyonna's Big Brown Beaver" - Primus
3. "Hey Jack Kerouac" - 10,000 Maniacs
2. "Edie (Ciao Baby)" - The Cult
1. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" - Bauhaus


There's a great quote about music writing. It goes something like 'writing about music is like dancing about architecture.'

Still, I always look forward to the year-end polls. I've never been one to say, 'It's been a bad year for music.' Somewhere, someone is wrapping a good story in a sweet melody. And each year, my trusted 'have you heard?'s - eMusic, Aquarium Drunkard, Ramble On, Harp, Q, emails/comments/mixed CDs from friends, etc. - increase.

But if my only source was this Amazon list, I'd be fucking bummed the way this year turned out.


**The word is still out on this song and its connection to Winona Ryder. Here's what Primus' Les Claypool said on the topic: "That song was never supposed to be what it became. It was gonna be this goofy little song on the record with some banjo and some upright bass, and it just kind of evolved into the lead track. I met Winona Ryder. She had heard from a friend of ours that I'd possibly written a song about her. She's actually really cool. She wasn't pissed really; I think she was just more confused. She wanted to know why we might write a song about her and I told her, 'It has nothing to do with you.' It was really cool. I got to meet a movie star."


At 3:16 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Well, there's one of the weirdest damn pop songs ever written: "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright," by Simon and Garfunkel. It includes the truly bewildering line, "Architects may come and
Architects may go and
Never change your point of view."

We must be on the same wave-length, Triple J, because a little over an hour ago I was at the Wal-Mart with my friend James, buying some extra pillows and wintery stuff, and as we headed out to the car I asked him, "Did you notice the name of my clerk?"


"It was Winona. And I was sorely tempted to ask her if she had a big, brown beaver."

"For some reason I'm thinking she wouldn't have appreciated that."

At 3:21 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Oh yes, also--

"Michael Caine" by Madness.

"Johnny Carson" by the Beach Boys.

"I Feel Better Than James Brown" by Was (Not Was).

"Robert De Niro's Waiting" by Bananarama.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Damn, also--- "Dan Blocker" by Gurf Morlix.

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I Want To Be Like Jackie Onassis" by Human Sexual Response (I think).

"Biko" by Peter Gabriel

"Sergio Leone" by Jackson Browne

At 4:32 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

"Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

"Abraham, Martin, and John," by Dion.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Scrubby Nub and The Bothered Brigade said...

"David Duchovny, Why Won't You Love Me" by someone whose name I don't know, but only made money off of that song and none other. You wanna talk star-fucker.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

bettie davis eyes

At 5:37 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Mojo Nixon--"Elvis is Everywhere" and "Don Henley Must Die."

At 5:43 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Nice ones ... speaking of lyrics, love that Don Henley one Bankston mentioned.

"Don Henley must die/Don't let him get back together/With Glenn Frey"

At 5:49 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

My friend Tim was at The Hole in the Wall the night Don Henley emerged from the crowd, and Mojo said, "Oh shit. I had a feeling this day would come." Then Henley jumped on stage and sung the song with him.

At 5:50 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

"Sang," I mean. Little sleep here, folks. Busy trying to count/catalogue my CDs.

At 12:11 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Falco--"Rock Me, Amadeus"

Elton John--"Candle in the Wind" and "Candle in the Wind '97" (The first sort of counts in that it mentions its subject by name, but the second doesn't.)

Ozzy Osbourne--"Mr. Crowley"

The Clash--"Sean Flynn"

Bob Dylan--"Hurricane"

Loudon Wainwright III--"Rufus is a Tit Man."

Bo Diddley--"Bo Diddley."

David Bowie--"The Jean Genie" (Said to be about writer Jean Genet, the line "The Jean Genie loves chimneystacks" is supposed to refer to Genet's fondness of erect phalluses.)

Serge Gainsbourg--"Bonnie and Clyde."

At 7:15 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Statler Brothers--Whatever HAppened to Randolph Scott?

Johnny Cash--The Ballad of Ira Hayes

Jerry Reed--Lord, Mr. Ford

Waylon Jennings--Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?

Jimmy Dean--PT-109 (About JFK and mentions him by name)

Matthew Sweet--Winona

Spike Jones--Der Fuhrer's Face

At 7:33 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Sufjan Stevens--John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

The Thrills--Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?

At 8:43 AM, Blogger tastho said...

Split Lip Rayfield - "Just Like A Gillian Welch Song"

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Tara said...

Mrs. Potter's Lullaby - Counting Crows -- Sparked by Adam Duritz's seeing Monica Potter in Patch Adams of all things.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Groove Farm had a song called "Nancy Sinatra."

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Luke said...

Holy shit! That Amazon list is awful! I'm ripping my ears off as I type this!

And what the hell is Bankston doing shopping at Wal-Mart?! The Evil Empire??? Bankston???

Add to your list: Warren Zevon's "Boom Boom Mancini."

At 10:06 AM, Blogger TripleJ said...

So here's a question.

What is the single best song written about a celebrity? You only get one.

I went with 'Bela Lugosi's Dead'.


Another close one that I forgot about until now is 'Joey' off Bob Dylan's Desire. It's written about a famous mob boss born in 'Redhook Brooklyn.'

This example might be stretching the idea of celebrity.

Dylan took a lot of heat for that song. Many saw it as Dylan glamourizing the life of a known criminal. (He was paving the way for N.W.A.) I saw it more as complicated story told in a colorful, point A-to-B way -- and a key song off Dylan's best story-driven album.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Wal-Mart, well...I wanted some sheets and pillow cases and was too cheap to buy them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. There's not much point in getting something with a high thread count if it's just gonna have Basset Hound slobber all over it.

And baby, I'll take my collapsible stool wherever I can get it.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

I think this may be the longest NJK thread not involving bared asses or erectile dysfunction.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Luke said...

Time out. We're forgetting the best one of all: REM (it pains me to type that), "Man in the Moon."

At 10:35 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Well, Bowie's "China Girl" name checks Marlon Brando.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Likewise, CSN&Y's "Ohio" mentions Nixon. And Bertie Higgins's "Key Largo" cites Bogie and Bacall.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Jolie Holland's "Old Fashioned Morphine" mentioneds Wm. S. Burroughs and Isabelle Eberhardt.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger incognato said...

weezer "buddy Holly"

At 2:27 PM, Blogger incognato said...

also, bauhaus was my favorite band in high school. I had a bela lugosi's dead poster and painted a biker jacket the eclipse fromt he Sky's Gone Out album.

yeah, i had problems.


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