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Lyrical response

I was driving down the interstate this weekend when “Sweet Home Alabama” started playing on the radio. I always stop my channel tuning and listen to this Lynard Skynard song when it’s on, just like I always stop to watch “The Shawshank Redemption” when it’s on TNT. However, there is one stanza that I didn’t understand the first few years after I’d first heard it:

Well I heard mister Young sing about her

Well, I heard ole Neil put her down

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember

A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow

I don’t always pay attention to song lyrics. It can take me 4 or 5 listens before I start to decode what a song is really about. It was only when I took a History of Rock n’ Roll class that I heard the Neil Young song, “Southern Man,” which is critical of the south and is what Lynard Skynard is referring to.

As I continued driving along, I tried to think of more songs that make reference to other songs. It sounds like a good idea for a mixed tape. I could only think of two pairs, the first being Camera Obscura’s song “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” which is a response to Lloyd Cole’s, “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken.” Then there is Tori Amos’ “In The Springtime of His Voodoo” which quotes The Eagles song, “Take it Easy” when she sings about standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and being in the wrong song.

Can you guys think of any more songs that reference other songs? Help make my mixed tape idea a reality!

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62 Comments

Mel • April 13, 2009 at 11:00 am

No-Doubt “Ex-Girlfriend”

You say youre gonna burn before youre mellow

Ill be the one to burn you

Whyd ya have to go and pick me

When you knew that we were different

Completely

Is a reference to a Bush song (The Science of Things)

In all this sorrow

I’m doing you in tomorrow

I’ll burn before I mellow

Dorothy died for your pleasiure

It’s hard to get along

It’s hard to get along

———-

Reference to Gwen and Gavin Rossdale relationship.

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Tara • April 13, 2009 at 11:02 am

The only one I can think of is “Fire, Water, Burn” by The Bloodhound Gang.

“So if man is five and the devil is six than

that must make me seven

This honkeys gone to heaven”

A play on “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by the Pixies.

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Michelle • April 13, 2009 at 11:08 am

Rocket by Def Leppard. The video is also chock full of references. In fact, the chorus is built entirely around Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love. You can find lots of interviews on the web about how the song came about.

Try this link to DL’s website. Hopefully it will take you straight to the lyrics.

http://www.defleppard.com/discography/lyrics.asp?song=36

Here’s a link to 2 members of the band talking about the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1IEz9kvdlg

Let me know what you think. Enjoy!!

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Karen • April 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

I don’t know if these count, as it’s a song referencing a song by the same group, but the Beatles’ song “Glass Onion” references their song “Strawberry Fields Forever” in, I think, the first line and later, it references their other song “I am the Walrus.”

Likewise, in their song “All you Need is Love” they reference their older song, “She Loves You” towards the end.

And that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. :-)

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Sheila • April 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm

This was fairly common back in the old days, at least in the form of sequels. “King of the Road” begat “Queen of the House”. “This Diamond Ring” had a sequel the title of which I can’t remember. “It’s My Party” begat “Johnny’s Come Back”.

Harry Chapin’s song about a cab driver encountering an old flame led to a follow-up song about their meeting years later, after the cab driver had become a successful singer/songwriter. “Jack and Diane” showed up at least visually in the video for a later song by John Mellencamp.

And of course, sampling is very common now, which seems a little lazy but is more respectable than releasing remixes instead of taking the trouble to write a new song.

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Jean • April 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm

What about Don McLean’s American Pie. He references quite a few songs.

Here’s a link

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/music/american-pie/

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Megan • April 13, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Stevie Nicks’s “Stand Back” was inspired by Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”. Prince even played keyboards on it.

And almost every song on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album is about the other members of the band.

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vague • April 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Unfortunately the first example I thought of was that Hootie and the Blowfish song (their big hit; I forget the name) that quoted Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind.” I think Dylan might have actually sued them over it!

Anyway, while the Dylan song is incredible, I would hate to taint your mixtape with Hootie.

This is an excellent idea, though!

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Ana • April 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Neat idea! First one that popped into mind is Snow Patrol’s “Hands Open” song, which references Sufjan Stevens:

Put Sufjan Stevens on, and we’ll play your favorite song,

Chicago bursts to life in your sweet smile remembers you

My hands open and my eyes open, I just keep hoping that your heart opens.

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K • April 13, 2009 at 1:09 pm

If you want a song referencing other songs and artists – you’d be hard-pressed to find more references than are in: Life is a Rock by Reunion.

lyrics here: http://www.leoslyrics.com/listlyrics.php?hid=MA4e4B0hjK4%3D

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betsy • April 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Oldies but goodies:

Peter, Paul and Mary’s song ‘I dig rock ‘n roll music’ references Beatles songs, Mama and the Papas songs, and Donovan.

shades of the 60′s and 70′s when rock was young.

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lynn • April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Major Tom (Coming Home)” by Peter Schilling …a response to Space Oddity

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Emi • April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

These are kind of emo, but Something Corporate’s ‘Konstantine’ references Jimmy Eat World’s ‘For Me This is Heaven.’

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Amy • April 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

In the song “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi there is a lyric that goes-

“…like Frankie said I did it my way,”

referring to My Way by Frank Sinatra.

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Kyle • April 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Songs About Rain by Garry Allen references a bunch of songs:

The chorus is:

“Rainy Night In Georgia”

and “Kentucky Rain”

“Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”,

“Blue Eyes Cryin” in the “Early Morning Rain”

They go on and on, and there’s no two the same

Oh it would be easy to blame all these

Songs About Rain

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? • April 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Another Tori reference: talks about “Nine Inch Nails” in Precious Things. I’m sure there are others that I’m just not thinking of right now!

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Amy • April 13, 2009 at 2:53 pm

The Hootie & the Blowfish song is “I only wanna be with you” and it has references to 3 Bob Dylan songs (Idiot Wind, Tangled up in blue, and You’re a Big Girl Now) as well as Dylan himself:

“Aint Bobby so cool? I only wanna be with you.”

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MSWR • April 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

There’s a whole song in the Broadway musical Avenue Q (http://www.avenueq.com/) about mix tapes, called, appropriately enough “Mix Tape”. One of the characters gives another one a mix tape, so the recipient character goes through and reads all the song titles (e.g., “Theme from Friends”, “That’s What Friends are For”, “A Whole New World”, “Yellow Submarine”…) Plenty of material for a mix tape…a whole mix tape just devoted to this one song, even!

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AJS • April 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Counting Crow’s “Mr Jones and Me” reference Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” (Somethings happenin’ here but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones). Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” was a response to “American Pie”. Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” referenced Dylan, John and Yoko and himself. There are three off the top of my head. I’m with you- for years I hadn’t caught the reference to “Southern Man” until I ran across it on the radio a year ago or so. Oh, and the Beatles “Back in the U.S.S.R” totally referenced the Beach Boys.

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Laura • April 13, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road includes the line, “Roy Orbison singing for the lonely…” refers to Only The Lonely.

Tom Petty’s Running Down a Dream, “Me and Del were singing Little Runaway…”

Van Morrison’s Real Real Gone, “Wilson Pickett said:

- In the midnight hour, that’s

When my love comes tumbling down

Solomon Burke said:

- If you need me, why don’t you call me

James Brown said:

- When you’re tired of what you got, try me

Gene Chandler said:

- There’s a rainbow in my soul…”

Billy Joel’s Keeping the Faith, “I thought I was the Duke of Earl when I made it with a red haired girl in a Chevrolet…”

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Rebecca • April 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Van Morrison: Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)

Opening lines:

Jackie Wilson said

it was “reet petite”…

Reet Petite was Jackie Wilson’s top-rated song.

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Carey • April 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Tim McGraw song “Give it to me Strait” references many of George Strait’s songs and I know there are other but I can’t think of them right now.

Great idea.

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Tara • April 13, 2009 at 3:49 pm

@Mara @ What’s For Dinner? -

In ‘Caught a Lite Sneeze’ she sings “Dreamed a little dream, made my own Pretty Hate Machine’….which is a NIN reference as well.

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Sarah Fowler • April 13, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I was going to say Don McLean’s American Pie, but someone beat me to it! This is shaping up to be a huge mix tape; will you post the playlist on your blog? :-)

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Jenn • April 13, 2009 at 3:56 pm

This song is before my time, but I still like it. Johnny Rivers references The Beatles “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonley Hearts Club Band” in his song “Summer Rain” twice:

“All summer long we spent dancin’ in the sand

& the jukebox kept on playin’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ ”

and

‘All summer long we spent groovin’ in the sand

Everybody kept on playin’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ ”

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Tina • April 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Supposedly, Ani Difranco’s “Napoleon” is a song about being pissed that Sarah McLachlan sold out by signing on to a major record label. And Sarah McLachlan’s song “Adia” is supposedly a response to that song.

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eggy weggs • April 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Belle & Sebastian refer to the Felt song “The World is as Soft as Lace,” in “I Don’t Love Anyone.”

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Rebecca • April 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Since I put on my Van Morrison disc when I referenced it, I found he seems to like to pay tribute to those who came before him. The last verse of “Real Real Gone” is total listing:

Wilson Pickett said:

- “In the midnight hour, that’s

When my love comes tumbling down”

Solomon Burke said:

- “If you need me, why don’t you call me”

James Brown said:

- “When you’re tired of what you got, try me”

Gene Chandler said:

- “There’s a rainbow in my soul”

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Rachael • April 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

This is an easy one, but that Kid Rock song from last summer that references “Sweet Home Alabama” and samples Werewolf of London (Warren Zevon).

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Raelene • April 13, 2009 at 5:54 pm

“Try to save your song” by Deborah Conway adds that they are: “Moon dancin’ to Van Morrison”.

What a great list! Might make a mixed tape too :)

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Rachael • April 13, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Asked Hubby. Here are two from him!

Major Tom by Peter Schilling (references Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie)

Swan Song by Julianna Hatfield (references Jack and Dianne by John Cougar Mellencamp)

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Sarah • April 13, 2009 at 6:03 pm

FYI Major Tom was covered by Shiny Toy Guns (it’s on that recent Lincoln commercial). Try the cover, it’s loads better than the Peter Schilling version.

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Ang • April 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” references “Yankee Doodle”. Don’t think it would go with the rest of the songs on your mix tape, though!

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maggieapril • April 13, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I always loved the Pasadenas “Tribute (Right On)” but it lacks the subtlety (hidden lyrics/references) of some of the others.

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Laura Brandon • April 13, 2009 at 8:07 pm

If you’re a Regina Spektor fan, her song Consequence of Sounds references her song Pavlov’s Daughter. 2 of my favorite querky Regina songs!

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Coleen921 • April 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm

The Eddie Money song, “Take me Home Tonight” has a line “just like Ronnie sang” which refers to Ronnie Spector’s hit with the Ronettes, “Be My Baby” She also sings that line in his song. This is a great idea!

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Denise • April 13, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Kid Rocks song All summer Long makes reference Sweat Home Alabama?

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Denise • April 13, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Kid Rocks song All summer Long makes reference Sweat Home Alabama?

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Anne • April 13, 2009 at 11:10 pm

The Beastie Boys song “Hey Ladies” quotes the line “She thinks she’s the passionate one,” which is originally from “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet.

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Kelly • April 14, 2009 at 1:44 am

@Tara – And Trent Reznor sings with her on Past the Mission.

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beth • April 14, 2009 at 7:52 am

@Tina – I don’t know if I believe that. Sounds like music mythology to me.

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beth • April 14, 2009 at 7:54 am

Just thought I would put this out there: Isn’t that “Sweet Home Alabama” song about racism in the South and wanting to keep segregation/ Jim Crow laws? That’s what I always thought, but everyone always sings it without understanding what it means.

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valerie • April 14, 2009 at 9:26 am

Flight Test by the Flaming Lips references Father and Son by Cat Stevens – well, not explicitly, but if you listen to them both, you’ll see what I mean. They even got sued over it!

Click on my name to see a post in which both songs are embedded.

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heidi • April 14, 2009 at 11:07 am

The song Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band:

“We sang the songs of childhood

Hymns of faith that made us strong

Ones that mother maybelle taught us

Hear the angels sing along”

Mother Maybelle being Mother Maybelle Carter, June Carter Cash’s mom.

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caroline • April 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

There’s a song by Okkervil River on the album The Stage Names called “Plus Ones” that has at least a dozen or more references to other songs, usually adding a one to a number mentioned in a famous song. From Wikipedia:

“”Plus Ones” references several other songs with numerical titles including “96 Tears”, “99 Luftballons”, Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”, R.E.M.’s “Seven Chinese Brothers”, David Bowie’s “TVC15″, the Zombies’ “Care of Cell 44″ and others, except with one number added ”

It’s a really, really great song by a pretty solid band. The lyrics are in the media section of their website.

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Laura • April 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I heard another one this morning! Erin Carmen’s Make Me Lose Control, “Jennifer’s singin’ Stand By Me, and she knows every single word by heart.”

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Samantha • April 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Another one by Regina Spektor:

In her song “On the Radio” Regina Spektor mentions “November Rain” (by Guns N’ Roses):

“On the radio

We heard November Rain

That solo’s really long

But it’s a pretty song

We listened to it twice

‘Cause the DJ was asleep”

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Dunja • April 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

@lynn -

In response to that, Bowie himself references Space Oddity in Ashes to Ashes:

“Ashes to ashes, fun to funky,

we know Major Tom’s a junky…”

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K • April 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm

They Might Be Giants’ “It’s Not My Birthday” references “McArthur Park” -

“You left the cake out in the rain / And I don’t think I can take it / ‘Cause it took so long to bake it / And I’ll never have that recipe again” becomes

“As this whole world crumbles like a cake / I’ll be hanging from the hope / That I’ll never see that recipe again”.

And – OK, this is really obscure – Moxy Fruvous’s “The Drinking Song” has the chorus from the old song “Goodnight Irene” stuck in the middle.

And I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned that song that references “singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long”! I don’t know who wrote it but it was a hit last summer in the UK.

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tony • April 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Don’t think anyone’s mentioned this one – “Back on the Chain Gang” from the Pretenders references Sam Cooke’s “Workin’ on the Chain Gang” twice; once in the title and secondly in the “hoo……HA” chorus in both songs. There’s also a song, “Do You Like Good Music’ that calls up all the old soul-type singers and their songs, lou Rawls, Otis Redding and others. Course, it’s just my age showing…

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Rachael • April 15, 2009 at 6:25 pm

@K – I did, I did! It’s Kid Rock.

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Jenn • April 16, 2009 at 12:50 am

My husband helped with this one:

Kenny Chesney’s “I Go Back” references

John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane,” Steve Miller Band’s “Keep On Rocking Me Baby,” and Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.”

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Pam • April 16, 2009 at 8:14 am

nearly all the song titles from pat benatar’s “seven the hard way” are referenced on roxette’s first cd (not released in US) “pearls of passion.”

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ev • April 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I got one for ya…

Jimmy Eat World, “A Praise Chorus”:

Crimson and clover, over and over

Crimson and clover, over and over

Our house in the middle of the street

Why did we ever meet?

Started my rock ‘n roll fantasy

Don’t don’t, don’t let’s start

Why did we ever part?

Kick start my rock ‘n’ roll heart

Which reference…

“Crimson and Clover,” Tommy James and the Shondells (or Joan Jett, take your pick)

“Our House,” Madness

“Why Did We Ever Meet,” The Promise Ring

Started my rock ‘n’ roll fantasy…Bad Company, maybe?

“Don’t Let’s Start,” They Might Be Giants

“Kickstart My Heart,” Motley Crue

Plus, it’s just an awesome song. :)

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Hoolie • April 16, 2009 at 11:26 pm

The Dead Milkmen reference the Beach Boys cover of “California Dreamin” (originally a Carpenters song) on their song Punk Rock girl.

“We went to the Philly Pizza Company

And ordered some hot tea

The waitress said well no, we only have it iced

So we jumped up on the table and shouted anarchy

And someone played a Beach Boys song on the jukebox

It it was “California Dreamin”

So we started screamin

On such a winter’s day ”

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Rachael • April 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

@Hoolie – I love that song!

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Jay • April 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I am such a massive geek, I’ve been thinking about this all week.

I’ve managed to come up with the Ash song Kung Fu with the line “I haven’t been the same since my teenage lobotomy”, a reference to the song Teenage Lobotomy by the Ramones.

The band Screeching Weasel recorded a song called I Wrote Holden Caulfield, a reference to the Green Day song Who Wrote Holden Caulfield. Strangely enough, neither song makes mention of Holden, nor that the book’s actual title is The Catcher In The Rye.

In But Julian, I’m A Little Bit Older Than You by Courtney Love there’s the line I see Paris, I see France, oh I hear London calling a reference to London Calling by the Clash, which she almost removed after the death of Joe Strummer. On the subject of Courtney Love, Hole had a tour and later a song called Use Once and Destroy, a partial reference to Nirvana’s song Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. The lyrics could be interpreted as being about Kurt Cobain, but then so also could their song Playing Your Song.

I desperately wanted to find a song reference in something by Har Mar Superstar, just so I could quote one of his songs and inadvertently encourage others to listen to them, but it would just be so forced it’s not worth it.

Oh, and Pearl Jam’s Love Boat Captain makes reference to the Beatles All You Need is Love.

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Cari • April 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Tori also references the Jimi Hendrix song The Wind Cries Mary in her song Mary. There are probably other ones in Tori’s oeuvre… too many to think about right now!

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charis • April 20, 2009 at 12:26 am

Tom Petty’s song ‘Running Down the Dream” references Dell Shannon’s “My Little Runaway”

The Bare Naked Ladies reference The Beach Boy song “Fun, Fun, Fun” in their song “Brian Wilson”

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Jessy • April 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Luckenbach, Texas by Waylon Jennings

“Between Hank Williams pain songs, Newberry’s train songs

and blue eyes cryin’ in the rain, out in Luckenbach Texas

ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain”

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Colleenzo • May 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

Blink 182′s Adam’s Song answers back to Come As You Are by Nirvana…

NIrvanan lyrics:

Take your time,

hurry up,

the choice is yours, don’t be late

Blink lyrics:

I took my time,

I hurried up,

The choice was mine, I didn’t think enough

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Alecia • September 8, 2009 at 3:40 am

Weezer red album “Heartsongs” it is my song of the moment. The entire song is a musical journey referencing all sorts of fun stuff. It is so fun to listen to and piece everything together!!

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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