Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My Top Ten Pigeon Songs

And so we reach my Top Ten Pigeon Songs, a post I wrote over a year ago... but I've been holding it back in reserve for the moment when I finally ran out of time to write any new ones. Luckily, it's half term next week, so hopefully I'll have a little more time to stockpile blogposts until Christmas. Otherwise... it may go a little quiet round here for awhile.

Anyway: pigeons. I like pigeons. Although I do seem to be in the minority. Here's ten odes to "rats with wings", some of them decidedly unpleasant...

Special mentions to The Pigeon Detectives and Lieutenant Pigeon.

10. Blur - The Woodpigeon Song

Obscure b-side... and, let's be honest, lads, it sounds like one.

9. The Uncle Devil Show - Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker

A one-off side project for Del Amitri's Justin Currie, this bizarre Beatles-esque pop tune was one of a handful of songs released by The Uncle Devil Show around ten years back. You could spot Currie's cynical tone a mile off...
A bird on the wing is a beautiful thing
With the exception of species whose speciality's faeces
So here's permission to land under the half brick
In my hand, in my hand...
8.  Genesis - Pigeons

Amazingly, this is post-Gabriel Genesis. Can't help but feel they were trying a little too hard to out-weird their former leader. From the Spot The Pigeon EP, which brings us nicely to...

7. Dick Dastardly & Mutley - Stop The Pigeon

Someone else who isn't a pigeon fancier. But how could I leave this out?
Mutley, you snickering,
Floppy-eared hound
When courage is needed,
You're never around.
Those medals you wear on
Your moth-eaten chest
Should be there for bungling
At which you are best.
6. John Prine - Clay Pigeons
I'm tired of running round looking for answers to questions I already know.
Written by Blaze Foley - now there's a great name for a country singer... or a burnt out detective.

5. Tom Lehrer - Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

Another classic slice of comic misanthropy... and pigeonthropy.

4. Cyndi Lauper - Sally's Pigeons

Cyndi recalls a childhood friend who's no longer with us.

Watch out for a young Julia Stiles playing teenage Cyndi in the video.

3. Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Stool Pigeon
Now if you wanna squeal, said the FBI
We can make a deal, make it worth your while...
Not about your feathered variety of pigeons, obviously. Kid Creole was cool.

2. The Handsome Family - Passenger Pigeons

Once upon a time, the Passenger Pigeon was one of the most abundant species of bird on earth. It was hunted to extinction at the beginning of the 20th Century... probably by the likes of Justin Currie, Tom Lehrer and Dick Dastardly.
Once there were a billion passenger pigeons
So many flew by, they darkened the sky
But they were clubbed and shot
Netted, Gassed, and Burned
Until there was nothing left
But vines of empty nests
I can't believe how easily
A billion birds can disappear
1. The Unthanks - King of Rome

Dave Sudbury's song tells the true story of Charlie Hudson, whose racing pigeon was entered into a 1913 race from Rome back to its home in Derby. But...
On the day o' the big race a storm blew in 
A thousand birds were swept away and never seen again
...and Charlie's bird was feared lost with them. But then, a miracle happened.
I was off with me mates for a pint or two 
When I saw a wing flash up in the blue 
"Charlie, it's the King of Rome 
Come back to his West End home 
Come outside quick, he's perched up on your roof"
Originally recorded by Sudbury, made famous by June Tabor... but this glorious version by the Unthanks and the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band takes some beating.

Ten pigeons set flying... but which one will win your race?


  1. Sadly the first one I thought of was number 7...and rightly as you say honourable mention to The Pigeon Detectives and Lieutenant Pigeon. In my collection I found the listed Sally's Pigeon's, Pigeons and another song called Pigeon that is untagged and Shazam doesn't know what it is so neither do I. Anyway I'm sure none of these should really get close to a Top Ten of any sort...but it was fun seeing them here...

    1. Thanks. Fun is the best I can hope to offer!

  2. Fair play to you for coming up with ten songs on this subject. I couldn't get past Stool Pigeon & the theme from Pigeon Street. Nice to see The Unthanks at the top of the tree, too.

    1. Cheers, Kippers - it seemed like a better idea at the time!

  3. Early Elton John song - Skyline Pigeon


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