Tuesday, 22 August 2017

My Top Ten Humphrey Bogart Songs

Another new feature. I pick a famous actor or actress, then find ten songs which link to them one way or another... and try to explain the link in as few words as possible.

We're starting with Humphrey Bogart because he is a legend. Not the greatest actor ever, but certainly one of the greatest movie stars. This guy had charisma, attitude, presence by the bucketload. He was a tough guy, sure, but he knew how to take a beating too. And while the kids of today probably wouldn't even know his name, the songwriters of yesterday couldn't stop writing about him. I could probably have made this a Top 20, just from songs that mention him by name (I won't be as direct with every star I choose), and I didn't even have to go to Nik Kershaw.

10. Peter Hammill - No More (The Submariner)

Get ready to have you brain fed through a Van der Graaf Generator. Prog off!
Oh! To be King John or Douglas Bader,
Humphrey Bogart or Victor Mature!
Which one is false and easy?
Which one harder?
9. Hall & Oates - Heavy Rain

Anyone who doesn't dig Hall & Oates, well... when you're slapped, you'll take it and like it.
We've seen a million faces
All staring at you and me
But just like Humphrey Bogart said
Before he passed out on his bed
Here's looking at you kid
And the rocky road ahead
8. Melissa Etheridge - Watching You

Probably one I should haved saved for volume 2 of My Top Ten Stalker Songs...
Sure I'm alright
No I'm not very cold
Every now and then I can feel the subway heat
So go on inside
I'll leave you alone
Anyway Bogart's on in the window down the street
And I gotta do something
7. Roxy Music - 2HB

2HB? To Humphrey Bogart. Thanks, Bryan.
Here's looking at you kid
Hard to forget
Here's looking at you kid
At least not yet
Your memory stays
It lingers ever
Will fade away never
6. The Good Rats - Tough Guys

Lots of famous tough guys from the golden age of Hollywood pop up in this Good Rats song, but Bogie takes centre stage...
Bogie, I've always dug your crowd
The fat man and Peter
And Claude and the rest

Play it again, Sam
These falcons have gone
To their nest
Oh, yes
5. The Beautiful South - I May Be Ugly

I pulled this one out for My Top Ten John Hurt Songs, but it's too good to ignore here...
He dreamt of those old-fashioned movies
Where Bogart gets the dame
But a lorry load of Lorre
Is still the score of pain
"A lorry load of Lorre"... that's some top alliterative punning right there.

4. Suzanne Vega - Freeze Tag

Two kids mucking around in a playground as winter draws in...
You stand
With your hand
In your pocket
And lean against the wall
You will be Bogart
And I will be
3. The Donnas - Pass It Around
But there's always someone who's gotta spoil it for the rest of the gang
You're such a little Bogart and I'm sorry but you just can't hang
Why don't you pass it around
Don't bring the party down
If you don't pass it around
We'll run you right outta this town
I had to Urban Dictionary this one...

"To keep something all for oneself, thus depriving anyone else of having any. A slang term derived from the last name of famous actor Humphrey Bogart because he often kept a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, seemingly never actually drawing on it or smoking it."

See also Little Feat - Don't Bogart That Joint.

2. Al Stewart - Year of the Cat
On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat
Definitely Al's finest moment. (I wonder if I could have managed a Peter Lorre Top Ten?)

1. Bertie Higgins - Key Largo / Casablanca

Two for the price of one. Another couple I owe to Wogan, I suspect. No idea how else I'd remember these songs. The interweb informs me that "Bertie Higgins is one of China's most requested American entertainers". Good for him.
We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo...

If you think I've missed any obvious ones out... they might crop up in volume two of this series... so you might be able to guess who's coming next.

Feel free to leave a comment, but remember: people lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you'll be polite.


  1. I'd just like to say that I first heard "Don't Bogart Me" (The original title of "Don't Bogart That Joint") when I saw "Easy Rider" in 1969. It was sung by a band called Fraternity of Man who I've never heard of since, although band member Richie Hayward became drummer for Little Feat. Fraternity of Man's guitarist - Elliot Ingber - was originally with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention and played on the Mothers' 1966 debut album "Freakout" album, before being sacked by Zappa and helping to form Fraternity Of Man. Ingber was then transformed into the mighty Winged Eel Fingerling when he joined Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. A 3rd band member - Warren Klein - ended up as a member of The Stooges in the early 1970's - and like Ingber - can be heard on a couple of Little Feat albums.

    1. Thanks, Lynchie - that's my kind of comment!

  2. I got really excited that I could offer something up for this one, then scrolled down to No. 2 - thwarted. Then I remembered that when I wrote about that song you left the following comment.

    Rol: A good start to feature Al too…, I’ve been saving Year Of The Cat for a Top Ten I keep promising I’ll do one day… The opening line might give you a clue.

    That day obviously came. Here's a challenge though - Don't just wonder, do a Peter Lorre Top Ten. If anyone can do it, you can.

    1. I found a couple more beyond the ones referred to above, but I think even I would struggle for 10.

  3. "Anyone who doesn't dig Hall & Oates, well... when you're slapped, you'll take it and like it."


    PS : Brilliant piece. Really went thought-out and presented.



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