Jun 272011

Every songwriter hits a dry spell with lyrics. When they do, many that have been writing for awhile go this old trick: they write lyrics about the very song they are singing at that time. They sit there with their instrument and sing about sitting there with their instrument to tell you more about the song they are sitting there singing about. Jane! Get me off this crazy mobius strip! George has one of the better examples in this vein because it’s not just about the song he’s singing, but really a funny reaction to the legal troubles he had when accused of ripping off “He’s So Fine.” Still, it’s a song about the song itself.

OK, LMS: What other songs have a lyric that makes reference to the same song being sung?


  72 Responses to “Last Man Standing: This Song”

  1. “Your Song” Elton John.

  2. mockcarr

    Gettin In Tune by the Who.

    George has helped me figure out something here – I really don’t like Broadway production, but I do like a lot of rock songs with what I guess I consider cinematic production. No fiddlely piano and high register squealing sax for me. Essentially, if it sounds like the end of Saturday Night Live, I’m against it.

    Low brass and ominous strings, very often, I like. George has come down firmly on the wrong side of that divide here.

  3. mockcarr

    I will however give him props for that little sample of Monty Python in there, sounds like a Terry Jones in drag voice from a sketch. Or is that a youtube addition?

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Pete Townshend had a few of these, didn’t he? I’m thinking “Pure and Easy” — a song I love!

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    “New Song,” the Who

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    Here’s another Georgie song about itself: “Only a Northern Song.”

  7. tonyola

    Public Image Limited – “This Is Not a Love Song”.

  8. misterioso

    Elton John/Bernie Taupin, “This Song Has No Title” from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

  9. misterioso

    No, it’s in the song itself. There is a fairly amusing video for this, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsUkACDSIZY

  10. bostonhistorian

    Does Herman’s Hermits “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” count? “Third verse/same as the first”

  11. Does “Schools Out” count?

    “We got no class
    And we got no principles
    And we got no innocence
    We can’t even think of a word that rhymes”

  12. tonyola

    I’d say that’s pushing it – otherwise we’d have to include every song with a “one more time…”, “take it, Johnny”, or some other coaching by the singer.

  13. bostonhistorian

    I would consider those examples of instructions to a band, not part of the lyrics. The Herman’s Hermits line seems to be a deliberate injection of humor into the lyrics. In any case, I have more examples if I can remember the actual song titles. Getting old is fun.

  14. Frank Zappa – “Joe’s Garage”
    “Guess you only get one chance in life to play a song that goes like…”

  15. Right on, MC.

    I had wanted Mr. Mod to post that video, and instead he opted for the George in his Bee Gees white suit instead as part of his “when icons go disco” series. Way to make GH look bad.

    I love your SNL closing theme rule. That’s great. I’m a big fan of this song, This Song, though. I find it very catchy.

    Yeah, something about “sugar-pie, honey bunch” is ad-libbed in the background. I

  16. Agree with Tonyola.

  17. “I wrote this song about it”. G Turns to C by Sloan.

  18. “Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes…” –Calhoun Tubbs


  19. s’posed to be a reply, natch

  20. bostonhistorian

    The Dead Milkmen, “Bitchin’ Camaro”:

    “The… Now, that’s another story. The important thing here is that we get to the part where you ask me how I’m gonna get down to the shore.
    – Oh, how you gettin’ down to the shore?”

  21. BigSteve

    David Allan Coe’s version of Steve Goodman’s You Never Even Called Me By My Name has that routine about whether it’s the perfect C&W song and the added verse to make it so:


  22. mockcarr

    Damn, I was holding onto that one, since I’m going to see those guys tonight, I’ve been revisiting their catalogue.

  23. Joyride by Built to Spill


    this part of the song is called the second verse
    sounds just like the first but with different words
    it only has three chords and they are A and E and D
    they are A and E and D
    then it goes to B minor, D, uh, A, E, D

  24. mockcarr

    The ultimate has to be CCR’s Wrote A Song For Everyone, doesn’t it?

  25. hrrundivbakshi

    Damn, I almost forgot that’s tonight! Hey, C and I need to meet you (and Michelle?) somewhere.

  26. ladymisskirroyale

    Darn it, this was the first song that I thought of and now it’s stuck in my head:

    Last Song by Edward Bear

  27. Here’s a new angle on the topic… writing about not being able to write a song– “Borrowed Tune” by Neil Young…

    I’m singin’ this borrowed tune
    I took from the Rolling Stones
    Alone in this empty room
    Too wasted to write my own

  28. ladymisskirroyale

    George Harrison’s Handmade Films produced some of those Python films as well as a personal favorite, “Withnail and I.”

  29. ladymisskirroyale

    And from another Neil: “Song Sung Blue.”

  30. tonyola

    Rolling Stones – “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)”.

    “Why don’t we sing this song all together?
    Open our minds let the pictures come.”

  31. hrrundivbakshi

    Strong contender for stupidest (I suppose I mean that literally) lyric/song concept ever. And Mr. Mod wonders why I hate hippies!

  32. tonyola

    Psh. That’s nothing. I should make you read Jon Anderson lyrics for the rest of the day.

  33. Dire Straits – Heavy Fuel (I love the babes, don’t get me wrong, in fact that’s why I wrote this song)

    I hate to say that I have written a song that references the song – I tried many times to chage the lyric but then got used to it (line: The ending to this song is still far away)

  34. ladymisskirroyale

    You could make a case that almost every Pavement song fits in this category.
    The first one I came across is Gold Soundz: “And you’re coming to the chorus now…”

  35. tonyola

    Matching Mole – “Signed Curtain”
    “This is the first verse….”


  36. ladymisskirroyale

    Pavement: So Stark (You’re A Skyscraper) – “It’s 6/8 time…It’s 3/4 time.”

  37. tonyola

    The Who – “The Song Is Over”

    “This song is over
    I’m left with only tears
    I must remember
    Even if it takes a million years”

  38. Hi all,

    Three things:

    1) Do any of you RTHers have a copy of “Nilsson Schmilsson” on CD? If so, I’d appreciate it if one of you could burn me a copy. Can’t remember where I was (might have been an old fart hippie party a few weeks ago) but I recently heard some of it and was surprised that it actually sounded kinda good.

    2) I’d also like a copy of “Ballzy” by Ambrose Slade. Again, I think I might have heard that one too at the same party held by a bunch of older freaks from my neighborhood. I found it sort of surprising that I never head of the album before. Whatever came forth from the speakers was again pretty good.

    3) Those that are kind of enough to burn CD copies of the aforesaid LPs will be rewarded with VG copies of any Jefferson Airplane / Starship LP post “After Bathing at Baxter’s”. I only have one copy of that winner and always listen to it once a year just to make sure it’s still as terrible as the last time I listened to it.

    Hoping to hear from someone soon,

    E. Pluribus

  39. Can’t help you with those discs but have you seen the Harry Nilson documentary yet? I’ve always been ambivalent about him but it was really good.

  40. ladymisskirroyale

    Nick Cave – The Weeping Song.

  41. I did see it. I thought it was pretty bad -more or less one of those cheap slide projector documentaries (not enough decent footage, a few cheesy reenactments, lots of interviews with people that aren’t the major players in the story, etc.) My only real revelation from sitting through that turd was that the guy had incredible pipes.

    E. Pluribus

  42. Hi Milady,

    I’m lost here. What’s “The Weeping Song”?

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    E. Pluribus

  43. “Sara” by Bob Dylan –

    “I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells,
    I’d taken the cure and had just gotten through,
    Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel,
    Writin’ “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” for you.”

  44. A good portion of Stawberry Fields Forever is seems to be Lennon discussing writing the song.

  45. Great song, great album.

  46. 2000 Man

    Three Dog Night – It’s Just an Old Fashioned Love Song.

    Please take that out of my head!

  47. ladymisskirroyale

    2000 Man – ok, this will replace TDN very nicely. Not only is it WORSE, it fits the LMS criteria.

    Oh, God, make it stop: Playground In My Mind:

  48. How about Weird Al’s parody of George’s “Got My Mind Set On You”?

    “This song is just six words long
    This song is just six words long
    This song is just six words long
    This song is just six words long

    Couldn’t think of any lyrics
    No I never wrote the lyrics
    So I’ll just sing any old lyrics
    That come to mind, child”


  49. trigmogigmo

    I am totally in love with King Crimson’s relatively recent (well, 2003, where does the time go) “Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With”, which fits the bill in a very artful way. The music is a knockout punch, and the lyrics begin:

    And when I have some words
    This is the way I’ll sing
    Through a distortion box
    To make them menacing

    And then I’ll have to write a chorus
    We’re gonna need to have a chorus
    And this would seem to be as good as any other place to sing it till I’m blue in the face

    A later chorus says “I guess I’ll repeat the chorus”.


  50. In airport with a minute to spare. Empty Pages comes to mind if not already mentioned.

  51. mockcarr

    Wilco – Someone Else’s Song

    I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know.
    I keep on trying, I should just let it go.
    I keep on singing, you’re eyes they just roll.
    It sounds like someone else’s song from along time ago.
    You already know the story and the chords are just the same.
    You already know I love you, and I sound like whats-his-name.
    But you can’t stop me, I want you to know.
    I know it sounds like someone else’s song from along time ago.

  52. misterioso

    It’s not entirely clear to me, but my feeling is that Dylan’s song “Eternal Circle” is about itself.

  53. ladymisskirroyale

    Early U2 also contains a couple of examples. I’m guessing that Bono didn’t really mean for the lyrics to be taken as I am/we are using them for this post, but technically I think they are legit entries as both “40” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” contain “How long to sing this song?” or the similar “How long must we sing this song?”

    Judges please?

  54. cherguevara

    Leon Russell, a song for you.

  55. ladymisskirroyale

    “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

  56. Damn! I was just going to say that one.

  57. BigSteve

    Damn! I was just going to say that one.

  58. 2000 Man

    Thanks! You just made my shit list for today!


  59. BigSteve

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps too. The lyrics don’t refer to the lyrics, but they refer to the song and to the guitar part.

  60. misterioso

    Big Star, “For You.” “I thought I’d sit and write this song just for you…”

  61. bostonhistorian

    I knew my love of Half Man Half Biscuit would pay off:

    “And I went la la la la la la la
    La la la la la la laaaaaa
    I went la la la la la la la
    Just like everyone else does when they can’t think of any more words”

    From “Venus in Flares”

  62. ladymisskirroyale

    In response to BigSteve, I propose: “Song For a Blue Guitar” by Red House Painters.

  63. underthefloat

    I also loved that on the album included “special thanks to Eric Idle for not appearing on this album”. 🙂

  64. 2000 Man

    I figured since you stuck that in my head, I’d actually watch the video as long as I could. Man, it’s even worse than the song!

  65. ladymisskirroyale

    All right, I’m adding my last entry and then throwing the list away:

    “Song To Sing When I’m Lonely” – John Frusciante.

  66. Wreckless Eric “A Pop Song” : http://youtu.be/u76_YFFgtC8

  67. How did we go so long without The Who’s “Getting in Tune”? LMS!

  68. I don’t know, but now that you’ve mentioned The Who again, “Guitar and Pen”.

  69. Oh, wait! “Getting In Tune” was the #2 entry, by mockcarr.

  70. Seems like Townshend is due to write a song about writing a song he’s currently singing. This song cubed.

  71. I want him to sing a song about singing the song he’s currently writing, which happens to be about writing the song he’s singing….or something like that.

    Also, “The Music Must Change” by Th’ Bloody Oo. I am the one they call LMS.

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