Friday, 4 August 2017

My Top Ten 'When I Am King...' Songs

You could argue, of course, that pop stars already live like kings and queens, so the fact that they're always whinging about what they'd do if they had even more power and wealth is somewhat ironic. But what do we know? Peasants and commoners like us will never understand the woes of the rich and famous. (My humblest apologies if you are either rich or famous and still reading this. Please don't have me beheaded for my disrespect.)

Anyway, here's ten of the buggers to tell us about their kingly dreams...

10. Joe Walsh - Fun
Well, if I was king I'd sign a proclamation
And if I was president I'd pass a law
And I'd call for a full-blown Senate investigation
Of everyone who wasn't having fun
Joe Walsh did actually run for president in 1980, promising to make Life's Been Good the American national anthem and that he'd give free gas to everyone. Reagan still won by a landslide.

9. Marillion - Lavender

When Fish is king, dilly, dilly...

I haven't been able to take this seriously since Julia Davis danced to it in Nighty Night.

While we're in the 80s, I'd like to give a shout out to UB40 - Kingston Town...
And when I am king,
surely I would need a queen
And a palace and everything, yeah
And now I am king,
And my queen will come at dawn
She'll be waiting in Kingston Town
...and The Thompson Twins - King For A Day. (Tom would give it all away.)

And, though not actually from the 80s, really sounding like they should be: Steel Panther - If I Was The King... I think you might call that one NSFW, though I'm reliably informed it's a parody, they don't really think like that...

8. Great Big Sea - When I Am King

Great Big Sea are described by the interweb as a "Canadian folk-rock band" which makes me think of The Levellers with a maple leaf. So imagine my surprise when I discover they sound like Smash Mouth and The Offspring. Still, nice sentiment...
Well, the war's been won
All the fights are fought
You find yourself in just the spot
It's a place where everybody's got a song to sing
Just like the final movie scene
The prince will find his perfect queen
The hero always saves the world
The villains get what they deserve
The boy will always get the girl
When I am king
Also from the Charity Shop Roulette pile, and sounding not entirely dissimilar... Forever The Sickest Kids - King For A Day.

7. Three Dog Night - Joy To The World
If I were the king of the world
Tell you what I'd do
I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the war
Make sweet love to you
Well, that's very nice of you, Chuck, but I think I'll pass.

(Three Dog Night had about 300 lead singers. Chuck Negron sung this one. It was written by the mighty Hoyt Axton. That's all you need to know.)

6. XTC - King For A Day

Leave it to Colin ('cos he wrote this one: I did check, just for JC) and Andy to bring us back down to earth...

I have a feeling that when these guys are kings, there won't be any kings anymore.
Well the way that we're living,
Is all take and no giving,
There's nothing to believe in,
The loudest mouth will hail the new found way,
To be king for a day
Similar party pooping sentiments come from Tom Petty - It's Good To Be King.

5. Weezer - King of the World

If Rivers Cuomo was king of the world, we'd all be able to ride a greyhound all the way to the Galapagos and stay for the rest of our lives. Which would be nice.
We are the small fish
We swim together
No Prozac or Valium
We’ll face tsunamis together
4. Gene - We Could Be Kings

Sadly, this planet never was theirs: but it really should have been with songs as good as this.

3. The Magnetic Fields - '80: London By Jetpack

Another one from Stephin Merritt's mighty 50 Song Memoir, which I'm still enjoying the hell out of even though I'm only on disc 2. I'll have to feature some more songs from this disc soon as it's a cracker. Anyhoo...
When I am monarch of the world
Weighed down by matters weighty
I'll live in London once more
And decree it's 1980
That all may dress as Pierrots
And pirates, like their king
And all will have jetpacks
From club to club we'll go zooming

At the club with no name
We'll dance again
Vivienne Westwood
Will be my queen
2. Neil Diamond - I Am, I Said

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king... and then became one?

Turns out that frog was Neil. And what did he do with his kingly success?

Go into therapy... and write one of his very best songs while he was there.

1. Radiohead - Paranoid Android

Radiohead's Bohemian Rhapsody. When Thom Yorke is king, we'll all be first against the wall...

As you may have noticed, I couldn't find any songs about what Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush or Annie Lennox would do if they were queen for the day*. Hmm... I wonder what that tells us...

(*I am, however, happy for you to suggest them.)

What would you do if you were king / queen for a day?


  1. I've always liked Steely Dan's take on "King Of The World" which has lyrics that are really weird - even for a Steely Dan song.

    "No marigolds in the promised land
    There's a hole in the ground
    Where they used to grow
    Any man left on the Rio Grande
    Is the king of the world
    As far as I know"

    1. I'm kicking myself that I somehow missed that one, particularly as I was listening to Countdown To Ecstacy in the car only a couple of months back.

  2. I couldn't agree more with your comments on Gene. Such a great song.
    Bob Dylan recorded a rough demo of a song called 'If I Was a King' in a Glasgow hotel room in 1966. It's a lovely thing and quite at odds with the cacophony that was going on around him at the time. Needless to say, the song didn't officially see the light of day until 2015, when it appeared on Disc 18 (18!!!) of The Bootleg Series Volume 12.

    1. I'm looking forward to the Bob Sings In The Shower Bootleg Series, Volume 34.

  3. Replies
    1. When I am king, I will have no phone, no pool and no pets?

    2. But you will have a trailer for sale or rebt

    3. And all the old stogies I can find...


  5. How about a piece of 1970s studio created fluff, with slight psychadelic overtones?
    White Plains - When You Are A King
    (first heard sung by Sadie Frost in the film Love, Honour & Obey).

    Personally, I still remain unconvinced by the greatness of Radiohead (am I a dullard?), but Paranoid Android really is something special

    1. I didn't think I'd recognise that, having never seen the film you mention, but I did know it quite well. My memory has so many forgotten nooks and crannies.

      As to Radiohead, I'm one of those who believes they made two truly great albums, but greatness has been sporadic ever since.

  6. Might not be possible to be a King for a Day but Go West were the Kings of Wishful Thinking.

    Not many songs about being Queen for a Day but if you were Bridget the Midget the Queen of the Blues (as per Ray Stevens I was prompted by you to write about) you would be a Queen every day!

    1. Ah yes, what enlightened times they were.

      (Safety tip: do not google search Bridget The Midget. You won't get the Ray Stevens song, and you won't get Mrs. McClusky from Grange Hill either.)

  7. I've always like Jellyfish's The King Is Half Undressed. A great song and I'd much rather have Jellyfish than Fish in any list! I know Brian would also approve.

    1. I approve wholeheartedly. Jellyfish were great.

  8. I Am I Said is one of my guily secrets. Top tune, superbly delivered.


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