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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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.
Read this and weep. Seriously, it’s sad.
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
Yes, you may! Thanks! I’m not familiar with many of these. I’ll dig into them later in the week. Thanks again!