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Ron Reed

Meta-songs: Music about music

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Lucinda Williams, "Righteously"-- "...just play me John Coltrane."

Steely Dan, "Parker's Band"

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"I Don't Want The Night To End" by Phoebe Snow

<i>"I stood too near the gaslight and I cried

The dirty city mist had seeped too deep inside

It took me on some kind of heady ride

They told me Charlie Parker died

And I don't want the night to end..."</i>

(Actually not a reference to the musician, but to a friend by that name. Still, for years I thought it must be Bird, so it goes on the list. Great song, by the way. Great album.)

David Hadju has written a lovely piece about Snow. I confess I don't know her music, but I wholeheartedly support everything Hadju has to say about the fleeting quality of popularity:

For years now, when the subject of Snow has come up around me, I’ve found people responding with a look of, “Whatever happened to her?”

What they’re really wondering is, “Why did she disappear from the top of the pop charts and stop appearing on television and in big concert tours?” The question is dumb. The fact is, the shelf life of pop stars is mercilessly brief, and only a miniscule fraction of singers who ever have top-ten hits, as Snow did with her first single, “Poetry Man,” in 1975, ever stay popular for long. To wonder why her fleeting claim to stardom ended is like wondering what stardom itself is. It’s fleeting, that’s what it is. Moreover, in mainstream pop forms like top-40 music, longevity favors the malleable, the artists best skilled at adjusting to the vagaries of popular taste. Great and original artists are rarely so accommodating.

It is remarkable that Phoebe Snow sustained an active creative life for so long.

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Oh, missed this thread the first time around.

They Might Be Giants tend to litter their songs with these sorts of references. Just a few off the top of my head:

"Twisting" (from Flood) references the dB's and Young Fresh Fellows.

"The Day" (from their s/t debut) references Phil Ochs and Marvin Gaye.

"Rhythm Section Want Ad" (from the debut) mentions Menudo and the Euthrymics, among others.

"See the Constellation" (from Apollo 18) steals a line from Warren Zevon.

"Why Must I Be Sad?" (from John Henry) is a song comprised almost entirely from Alice Cooper tune titles.

"XTC vs. Adam Ant" (from Factory Showroom) is...well, about what happens when Beatles-based pop fights the new romantic.

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Swedish Purse by WovenHand:

Fallen from braided hair

New Morning on the stereo...

I owned about 6 or 7 Dylan albums at the time I first heard that

since then I've picked up 6 or 7 more.

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The Bicycle Thief- Rainin

"It's 4 AM and I just got home

And everybody's asleep

So I just keep listenin'

To Irma Thomas sing

"It's rainin' and rainin'"

Over and over again............................................the Bicycle Thief is Bob Forrest.....he is the guy in the hat counseling on celebrity rehab.... I am sure he is doing good work and is focused on his own health and well being but I miss his writing and singing.

Joni Mithchell- When Furray Sings the Blues

"Old Furry sings the blues

Propped up in his bed

With his dentures and his leg removed"...

Yo La Tengo- Drug test

"I see myself with headphones on

I'm listening to Wake of the Flood"

I have always heard the first line as " Ate a left over steak for breakfast, watching the sun go down".....the internets tell me something different...I like my version best...but I still don't like the Greatful Dead.

Neil Young -Borrowed Tune

"I'm singin' this borrowed tune

I took from the Rolling Stones,

Alone in this empty room

Too wasted to write my own."

Bruce Cockburn -"Last Night Of The World"

"I'm sipping Flor De Caña and lime juice, it's three a.m.

Blow a fruit fly off the rim of my glass

The radio's playing Superchunk and the friends of Dean Martinez".......a mention really sneaking into the Meta thread, but come on Superchunk! In a Cockburn song!

The Dream Syndicate- John Coltrane Stereo Blues

"I got some John Coltrane on the Stereo baby, make it feel all right, I got some fine wine in the freezer mama, I know what you like" ......cue guitar solo.......cue Peter Case on Harmonica....

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