50 Songs Named After Real People

Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.

I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”

Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.

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5 Responses to 50 Songs Named After Real People

  1. Laura Kuhn

    As Skippy is my witness, the first thing I thought after reading your headline was “Buddy Holly!” But I’m not sure Eleanor Rigby is real.

  2. Larry

    May I suggest:
    Alison Statton – Pants Yell!
    Antonio Carlos Jobim – Heatmiser
    Bessie Smith – The Band
    Cat Power – Patterson Hood
    Charlie Parker – I’m From Barcelona
    Chris Bell – The Sharp Lads
    Courtney Love – Hollywood Ending
    Dock Ellis – Lotion
    Drew Barrymore – SZA
    Duane Eddy – The Great Unwashed
    Duke Ellington – The Mountain Goats
    Eddie Vedder – Local H
    Elvis Costello – The Graverobbers
    Faron Young – Prefab Sprout
    Frank Sinatra – Cake
    Gene Clark – Teenage Fanclub
    Grant Hart – The Posies
    Grant McLennan – Tenant from Zero
    Harper Lee – Suzanne Vega
    Helen Reddy – Trembling Blue Stars
    Jacqueline Susann – Pernice Brothers
    Jacques Brel – Matthew Schlomowitz, Peter Ablinger
    Jean Paul Sartre – The Crabs
    Jenny Holzer – KOOL A.D., Chippy Nonstop
    John Darnielle – Brook Pridemore
    Link Wray – Jason Ringenberg
    Lucinda Williams – Vic Chesnutt
    Marianne Faithfull – Kate Simpkins
    Nancy Sinatra – The Bottle Rockets
    Pauline Kael – The Graveblankets
    P.F. Sloan – Jimmy Webb
    Philip Seymour Hoffman – Cameron Blake
    Robert Johnson – Bill Morrissey
    Roy Rogers – Elton John
    Skeeter Davis – Mike Macharyas
    Steve Earle – Lydia Loveless
    Tammy Wynette – Richard Neal
    Tom Courtenay – Yo La Tengo
    Vic Chesnutt – The Grownup Noise

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