Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My Top Ten Song Titles Bands Were Named After

Ten songs SO good... they named their bands after them. (And Victor Kiam bought the company.)

10. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Death Cab For Cutie

Why Ben Gibbard's alt-indie-occasionally emo band from Washington DC decided to name themselves after a bizarre Elvis spoof by Neil Innes and Viv Stanshall's psych-comedy 60s band from that London is anybody's guess. The title itself seems strangely apt - tragic beauty filtered through an everyday lens being Gibbard's lyrical stock in trade. But  then you listen to the actual song... which couldn't sound more different to the band DCFC if it was played solely on a Hawaiian nose-flute.

9. Tim Buckley - Starsailor

If you imagine Jeff's dad as the blueprint for a bunch of heartfelt indie romanticists led by Warrington's angelically voiced James Walsh, it sounds like a pretty good fit. Starsailor the song, however, is possibly the weirdest thing Buckley Sr. ever recorded. It's pretty far out there - certainly further out there than anything the Starsailor lads themselves have turned their minds to.

They should have called themselves Mojo Pin.

8. Leonard Cohen - Sisters of Mercy

Ah, Lenny, what a storyteller.
When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
Don't turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.
Alternatively, don't turn on the lights because Andrew Eldritch is one scary melon farmer.

7. Bernard Cribbins - Right Said Fred

All hail Saint Bernard of Cribbins: he's still too sexy for his shirt, even at 85 years young.

6. Wings - Jet

The band named after this song were little to get excited about, but as much as I like to rib good old Sir Thumbs Aloft, this is still one of his finest post-Beatles moments.

If you don't believe me, ask Alan Partridge. (That clip sadly not available on youtube.)

5. Queen - Radio Gaga
I'd sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio
This song could pretty much be the story of my youth... and probably explains why I'm sat here at all hours of the night, after a long day at work, writing this blog now.

I'm guessing Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta must have had a very similar adolescence...(!)

4. Talking Heads - Radio Head

Here's David Byrne inspiring Thom Yorke...
The sound of a brand new world
If only Thom's band could record a record as joyously upbeat as the one that gave them their name... but I guess, if they did, they wouldn't be Radiohead.

3. Steely Dan - Deacon Blues

There was a time when you could reliably predict an appearance by either Morrissey, Bruce, Jarvis or Billy on this blog at least once a week. You might soon add Fagen & Becker to that list.
Drink scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama 'The Crimson Tide'
Call me 'Deacon Blues'!
Only a band with real Dignity could do justice to a name like that!

Steely Dan, of course, were named after one of William Burroughs' dildos. One day, I'll compile a list of bands named after dodgy sexual euphemisms... step forward 10cc and The Lovin' Spoonful. (Or did I blow my load with those two?)

2. David Bowie - The Kooks

It's not that long since I last featured this early Bowie classic, in my Top Ten Songs About Becoming A Parent. (Coincidentally, it made Number 2 in that list also.) The Brighton boys who took this name for their band never quite lived up to its potential... but that was a pretty tall order, so good on them for giving it a go.

1. The Smiths - Shakespeare's Sister

Another of Mozzer's playfully exuberant suicide anthems, with a cheeky nose-thumb to Billy Bragg thrown in...
I thought that if you had
An acoustic guitar
Then it meant that you were
A Protest Singer
Oh, I can smile about it now
But at the time it was terrible!
All of which led to some inspired pop-goth wonderment from a former Bananarama and Mrs. Dave Stewart way back in the Dawn of Time that was the early 90s. Of course, they misspelled Shakespear, but Big Willy was never too fussy over spelling anyway.

There are probably more bands named after Smiths or Morrissey lyrics than any other songwriter. See also Gene (Jeane), Panic! At the Disco, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Girl In A Coma, The Ordinary Boys (shudder!)...

All those song titles gave birth to stars. There's another Ten somewhere about bands named after lyrics (not titles) but we'll save those for another day. In the meantime, which one makes you want to change your name?


  1. Partridge/Wings clip not available on YouTube but it is available online here!

    Top tune at #1, btw.

    1. Not the clip I was thinking of (it was the one where he wrecks his hotel room while air-guitaring along to Jet) but still good to watch again!

  2. Damn...I posted a comment from my phone last night...and it hasn't popped up. Anyway, it said something like this is a particularly brilliant (and educational) post even though I don't have any additions...

  3. great list - Shakespeares sister is one of my Smiths all time favourites and I'm sure it was only a B side. Right said Fred time to 'ave a cup of tea is one of my daily chimes.

    I'm going to have to think abut this list and get back to you I think. HWMBO is flicking through the CDs now, I dread to think what 'Parental advisory' he is about to come up with!!

    1. SS was a hit single, pop pickers - A side too. Number 26 with a (rather slow) bullet in March, 1985.

  4. Ok HWMBO just piped up!!

    Metallica Album Kill 'em all has 3 consecutive songs on it Whiplash, Phantom Lord and No Remorse. All of these are band names.

    So there you have it!! Bless him :)

    1. That's good to know. Sadly, I only have Whiplash in my collection... and I've never heard anything by the band that took that name. Which is probably for the best.

  5. Apparently Deep Purple were named after Peter DeRose's "Deep Purple". From jazz to rock... far out.

    1. When I was in a band, we used to play Deep Purple.

      Sadly, it was a brass band, and we didn't play Smoke On The Water.

  6. Sorry for the late response, the best I can think of is "Powderfinger" by Neil Young, which was the inspiration for the name of a great Aussie rock band.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...