Almanac Music: Women and Men, and Songs: Part 2 – Songs Featuring a Male Name

 

 

Women and Men, and Songs: Part 2 – Songs Featuring a Male Name

 

Last week, my music piece for The Footy Almanac explored songs featuring a female name; this week, Part 2 examines songs highlighting a male name. As usual, comments from the Almanac community (and indeed anyone) are welcomed. As I wrote in the previous piece, readers should feel free to interpret my prompt loosely – some names are widely given to both males and females, for example.

 

‘The Man who Shot Liberty Valance’, written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David, performed by Gene Pitney (1962)

 

This western-themed song is a classic of the country-pop sub-genre, and one also recorded by various other artists in addition to Pitney, including, perhaps surprisingly, a blinder of a version by Oz band Regurgitator in 1998.

 

 

 

 

‘Arnold Layne’, written by Syd Barrett, performed by Pink Floyd (1967)

 

This psychedelic pop-rock number, about a social deviant, was, in one respect at least, a landmark sixties song, being Pink Floyd’s first single.

 

 

 

 

‘Rocky Raccoon’, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, performed by The Beatles (1968)

 

From the Beatles’ double album, The Beatles (also called the White Album), this amusing folk song parody, mainly written by Paul McCartney, begs the question: is there any kind of song McCartney can’t write? Five wonderfully witty lines round off the enjoyably rambling narrative piece: ‘Now Rocky Raccoon, he fell back in his room / Only to find Gideon’s bible / Gideon checked out / And he left it, no doubt / To help with good Rocky’s revival.’ Interestingly, ‘Rocky Raccoon’ is the last Beatles song to feature John Lennon playing the harmonica, something he did on quite a few occasions in their earlier work.

 

 

 

 

‘Reuben James’, written by Alex Harvey and Barry Etris, performed by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (1969)

 

This hit from Kenny Rogers & The First Edition is a catchy country-rock number about a poor, noble black man by the name of Reuben James, a sharecropper and victim of racism.

 

 

 

 

‘Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey’, written and performed by Paul and Linda McCartney (1971)

 

A wonderful prog rock / art rock pastiche of song fragments, this pre-Wings / post-Beatles effort went to Number #1 in the USA, and was a hit in many countries around the world. The medley appeared on the Ram album in 1971.

 

 

 

 

‘My Friend Stan’, written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, performed by Slade (1973)

 

So enjoyable, so English – this is straight ahead rock the Slade way, if with a slightly less heavy touch than usual. It’s the first single from Old New Borrowed and Blue, the band’s fourth studio album.

 

 

 

 

‘The Ballad of Eric Olthwaite’, written by by André Jacquemin and Dave Howman (1977)

 

This humorous little number, featuring the sound of a Jew’s harp (if I’m not mistaken), is best listened to in situ, as part of the closing credits of the Michael Palin Ripping Yarns episode it was attached to, about an incredibly boring Yorkshireman: ‘The Testing of Eric Olthwaite’.

 

 

 

 

‘Oliver’s Army’, written by Elvis Costello, performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1979)

 

This pop-rock-new wave number is a fine example of the songwriting craft. Its opening lines seemingly come out of nowhere ‘Don’t start that talking / I could talk all night …’ and the song proceeds along a witty, melodic, admirably brief exploration of geo-politics and militarism. The ‘Oliver’s Army’ of the title refers to the English army – Oliver refers to Oliver Cromwell.

 

 

 

 

‘Jesse’, written and performed by Carly Simon (1980)

 

‘Jesse’ is a country-pop song about a problematic love. (Aren’t so many of them?) It was the first single from Simon’s ninth studio album, Come Upstairs, and one of her biggest hits.

 

 

‘Jessie’s Girl’, written and performed by Rick Springfield (1981)

 

This rock song, written and performed by Australian singer and actor, Rick Springfield, is centred upon a popular theme of the genre – desiring a friend’s partner. Many Almanackers of a certain vintage will remember Springfield from his time with the Australian band, Zoot, in the late sixties/early seventies. Since that era, Springfield has primarily worked and lived in the USA.

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

So, Almanackers, it’s that time again!  Over to you. Your responses to this topic are warmly welcomed. Please add your own choice of a song (or songs) featuring a male’s name in the comments section, along with any other points you’d like to make.

 

[Note: Wikipedia has been a good general reference for this piece, particularly when it comes to checking dates and other details.]

 

 

 

For more from Kevin, click HERE.

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.

Comments

  1. Hi Kevin,I’ll get the ball rolling with a simple question ; have we ascertained which group of songs Lola fits into?

    Glen!

  2. Liam Hauser says

    Errol: Australian Crawl
    Richard Cory: Simon and Garfunkel
    Old John Robertson: The Byrds
    John Riley: The Byrds
    Hey Joe: (Love, The Leaves, The Byrds)
    Say it ain’t so Joe: Roger Daltrey
    Georgy Porgy: Toto
    Happy Jack: The Who
    Boris the spider: The Who
    Cousin Kevin: The Who
    Tommy can you hear me?: The Who
    Tommy’s Holiday Camp: The Who
    Get up Jake: The Band
    Stephen’s last night in town: Ben Folds Five
    Uncle Walter: Ben Folds Five
    The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill: The Beatles
    Maxwell’s silver hammer: The Beatles
    Doctor Robert: The Beatles
    Ben Crawley Steel Company: The Move
    The Words of Aaron: The Move
    Kilroy was here: The Move
    Ode to Billie Joe: Bobbie Gentry
    Smackwater Jack: Carole King
    Dennis: Badfinger
    Eddy’s Rock: Wizzard
    John the Baptist: Blood Sweat and Tears
    Dan, my fling: Carly Simon
    His friends are more than fond of Robin: Carly Simon
    Mr Crow and Sir Norman: Idle Race
    Hurry up John: Idle Race
    John, I’m only dancing: David Bowie
    Ziggy Stardust: David Bowie
    Daniel: Elton John

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Glen. I answered your question – in a succinct, humorous way – in the comments thread pertaining to Part 1 of ‘Women and Men, and Songs’. Basically what I wrote was that Lola can fit wherever Lola wishes. Essentially, what I’m saying is that Lola can choose whatever personal pronouns Lola likes. I suppose I’m asking you to extrapolate from here. We know that, traditionally, Lola is a female name.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Fabulous list, Liam.

    Interestingly, perhaps, I was thinking of ‘Richard Cory’ this morning, but it was the version Denny Laine sung when he was with Wings – and on the live ‘Wings Over America’ triple album (1976).

  5. Michael rowed the boat ashore.
    Semi detached Suburban Mr James
    Big Bad John
    Saint George and the Dragonet (Stan Freberg)
    Go Jimmy Go
    Tall Paul
    Hey Mickey

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Fisho.

    Thanks for your great little bunch of songs – a fine, diverse group.

    I’ll single out ‘Tall Paul’ (1959) for a special mention – what a cute, fun, very brief (under 2 minutes) beauty by Annette Funicello!

  7. Jumpin’ Jack Flash: The Rolling Stones.

    And seven zillion songs with Jesus in their title.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    No worries, Anson!

    Sometimes (like in your instance) brevity is the soul of wit!

  9. Dave Nadel says

    My Name is Jack – Manfred Mann
    Terry -Twinkle (60s British Pop’s contribution to the Necro Rock genre)
    Sam Stone – John Prine
    Mac the Knife – Bobby Darin (not to mention Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)
    The Sinking of the Reuben James – Woody Guthrie (written about ship sunk in WW2, but I still bet Kenny Rogers stole the name from Woody)
    Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues – Danny O’Keefe

  10. Joey’s Song
    Hats off to Larry
    Right Said Fred
    Tom, Tom Turnaround
    Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley
    Danny Boy
    Charlie Brown (He’s a Clown).

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Alex Chilton – The Replacements
    Aloha Steve and Danno – Radio Birdman
    Andy Warhol – David Bowie
    Arthur – Hoodoo Gurus
    Bennie and the Jets – Elton John
    Billy Hunt – The Jam
    Elvis Is Everywhere – Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper
    Levi Stubbs’ Tears – Billy Bragg
    Danny Says – Ramones
    David Watts – Kinks
    Gene Hackman – Hoodoo Gurus
    Geno – Dexys Midnight Runners
    Making Plans For Nigel – XTC

  12. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Dave N. Nice variety of songs here. I’ll single out ‘Terry’ (1964) by Twinkle for a particular mention, on account of its sheer difference to the other material you put forward – what an odd song!

  13. Kevin Densley says

    Hi again Fisho. Another selection of songs that is on the money, so to speak.

    Interestingly, I was listening to the Bernard Cribbins version of ‘Right Said Fred’ very recently – it was a hit in the UK in 1962, and was produced by the great George Martin, before he started his years of work with the Beatles

  14. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Swish, for your additions to to the developing list – interesting and thoughtful as always. ‘David Watts’ by the Kinks, for example, what a beauty – ‘things are not always as may be expected’ appears to be the underlying idea here.

  15. Dave Nadel says

    I have always had a morbid fascination with necro rock, Kevin. I did a two hour program on necro rock for CREW-FM in the 80s. (CREW- FM was the experimental name of Warrnambool Community Radio before it got its licence and became 3WAY)

    I love the corny last line of “Terry” “Please wait at the gate of Heaven for me, Terry”

  16. Rack off Normie – Maureen Elkner
    Ernie – Benny Hill
    A Boy named Sue – Johnny Cash
    Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry
    Vincent – Don McClean
    Micky – Toni Basil
    1952 Vincent Black Lightning – Richard Thompson
    Message to you Rudy -The Specials
    Chuck E’s in Love – Rickie Lee Jones

  17. Kevin Densley says

    Hi again, Dave N.

    Yes, necro rock is certainly a fascinating sub-genre. Another example of the sub-genre – which springs immediately to mind – is Australian singer-songwriter Bob Hudson’s ‘Teenage Cremation’ (1974). It appeared on his album, The Newcastle Song, of that year. In fact, ‘Teenage Cremation’ is both an example and a parody of necro rock.

  18. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, IW, for your solid list of material, all of which is spot on in terms of theme.

    And what synchronicity that I was just discussing Bob Hudson and The Newcastle Song album – in that, for those who don’t know, Maureen Elkner’s ‘Rack Off Normie’ centres around two main characters in ‘The Newcastle Song’ itself.

  19. Donald where’s your troosers ?
    The Ballad of John and Yoko
    and here’s a real oldie – Our Don Bradman

  20. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Fisho.

    As well as being an oldie, ‘Our Don Bradman’ is one of Australia’s iconic popular songs, of course.

  21. Rick Kane says

    St James Infirmary, Louis Armstrong
    Stagger Lee, Lloyd Price
    Danko/Manuel, Drive-By Truckers
    Ramon Casiano, Drive-By Truckers
    Rave On John Donne, Van Morrison
    Joey Black, Dave Warner
    Poor Howard, Robert Plant
    King Kunta, Kendrick
    Boom Boom Mancini, Warren Zevon
    Gary’s got a Boner, The Replacements

  22. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Rick – a great little selection!

    One of the songs you chose – ‘St James Infirmary’ by Louis Armstrong – has great ‘Sunday afternoon’ relevance for me, in that quite often, over the years, I’ve listened to Armstrong’s classic 1920s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens sessions at this time of the week. To my way of thinking, this classic bunch of recordings is jazz’s equivalent to The Book of Genesis – or maybe Exodus – depending upon the interpretative slant you place upon the context of these recordings in jazz’s history.

  23. Hmmm, them names are coming, going, quickly. I’ve got a few, from Australian bands of yore, as well there are some that may require vetting prior to inclusion. Let’s go.

    Darryl Braithwaite: Old Sid.
    Radio Birdmen: Aloha Steve & Danno.
    Rose Tattoo: Astra Wally, The Butcher & Fast Eddy.
    The Johnnys: Injun Joe, Elvisly Yours.

    Now , I’m sure there’s others that have escaped me, but here are some songs that may fit in. Kevin, do any of these pass scrutiny?

    Mental as Anything; Just Like Romeo, & Juliet.
    Russel Morris: Mr America.
    The Angels: Mr Damage.
    Brian Cadd: Gingerman.
    Buster Brown: Buster Brown.

    There are others, as well as some female names, I’m happy to add to the mix.

    Glen!

  24. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Glen! Thanks so much for all of these ‘Songs Featuring a Male Name’.

    This comments thread is very much a broad church, mate – like the Almanac in general. I don’t wish to be too finicky.

    Cheers.

  25. I”m Just Wild about Harry (from the movie Calamity Jane)
    James, James, Hold the Ladder Steady
    Hey Jude
    Bloodnock’s Rock and Roll and Bluebottle Blues (both goon show records in my collection)
    Bimbo (an Australian song from the fifties)
    And by the way, Stagger Lee which has already been mentioned, was the first record I ever bought.

  26. Kevin Densley says

    Great, Fisho. Thanks again.

    Love the inclusion of some Goon show stuff, too!

  27. My Girl, Bill
    Christopher Columbus (from Guy Mitchell)
    Hit the Road Jack
    Noman

  28. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Fisho; as usual, we’re getting together an impressive list in response to the ‘theme of the week’.

  29. I’m Henry the eighth, I am,.
    The William Tell Overture.
    Willie and the Poor Boy
    You’ve Gotta have Money in the Bank, Frank
    Barnacle Bill, the Sailor
    That’s a few out of left field for you to ponder, Kevin

  30. Dave Nadel says

    I don’t want to be pedantic but the Creedence song about Willie and The Poor Boys was actually called Down on the Corner.
    On the other hand I am impressed that you remembered Bimbo, Fisho. That came out in 1953 when I was six and I doubt if I have heard it since then.

  31. E.regnans says

    Letter to Alan – Cold Chisel
    Joey – Concrete Blonde
    Jimmy Sharman’s boxers – Midnight Oil
    Truganini – Midnight Oil
    You and Steve McQueen – The Audreys

  32. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks Fisho – left field is fine by me!

    And Dave N, I see where you’re coming from – that said; I did ask for songs featuring / highlighting a male name, so the name didn’t, strictly speaking, have to be in the title. In that context, ‘Down on the Corner’, which deals with ‘Willy and the Poor Boys’ would be more apt way of wording the matter.

  33. Kevin Densley says

    Hi again, David. Fine material. ‘Joey’ happens to be an old favourite of mine.

    ‘Truganini’ would fit in Women and Men, Songs – Part 1: Songs Featuring a Female Name, of course.

  34. Running Bear
    Jake the Peg
    Turn the Lights out, Johnny
    Rock around Stephen Foster (Stan Freberg)
    Does Bonaparte’s Retreat qualify ?

  35. Mark Poustie says

    Houdini – Foster the People
    Sean South of Garryowen, James Connolly – The Wolfe Tones
    Greg ! The Stop Sign , What Nationality is Les Murray – T.I.S.M
    Superman’s song- Crash Test Dummies
    Johny- The Celibate Rifles
    Conrad – Ben Howard

  36. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Fisho. You’re certainly coming up with some gooduns! Yes, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ gets a guernsey, I reckon – I don’t view this exercise in a pedantic way.

  37. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Mark – a fine bunch of apt songs on what may be termed the ‘alternative side’.

  38. Tony Forbes says

    Hi Kevin, just a small correction; Jesse was written by Janis Ian and not Carly Simon. Cheers,
    Can I add Ernie by Benny Hill and Big bad John? Michael row the boat ashore, I love to have a beer with Duncan.

  39. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Tony. Thanks for your input. The ‘Jesse’ (1979) I wrote about was indeed written by Carly Simon. Janis Ian wrote another song called ‘Jesse’ that was first released by Roberta Flack in 1973 and since recorded by others.

  40. The Jimmy Brown Song
    John and Marsha (Stan Freberg)
    The Ballad of Davey Crockett
    Along came Jones
    The Whole Town’s Talking about the Jones Boy
    And to TONY FORBES – Ernie, Big Bad John and Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore have previously been mentioned.

  41. Rick Kane says

    Hi KD, great point about Louis Armstrong’s 1920s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens sessions and I would extend it beyond Jazz to 20th century popular music. While Elvis and Chuck Berry exploded the scene with their ideas, Louis led the way. Cheers

  42. Rick Kane says

    Goodbye Earl, The Chicks
    Romeo’s Tune, Steve Forbert
    Adam’s Song, Rodney Crowell
    Acuff-Rose, Uncle Tupelo
    Django and Jimmie, by Willie and Merle
    Little Hitler, Nick Lowe
    The Year that Clayton Delaney Died, Tom T Hall
    Jim Dandy, LaVern Baker
    Luka, Suzanne Vega
    Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home, Aretha – yes, I know it’s a standard covered by everyone but I’ll go with Aretha
    Stan, Eminem

  43. Tony Forbes says

    Where would you put ‘My girl Bill’? Thanks for those corrections Kevin & Fisho!

  44. Kevin Densley says

    Fisho – you’ve come up with some more good stuff. Thanks! What a list is being compiled!

  45. Kevin Densley says

    Glad you liked the Hot Fives and Sevens material, Rick. I do love jazz, especially Trad New Orleans stuff. I’ll have to do some more writing in this area.

    And thanks for more songs for the general list.

  46. Kevin Densley says

    Hi again Tony. To the extent that I’ve thought of it, I’ve always figured that the matter is explained near the end of ‘My Girl Bill’, when one male says to the other ‘She’s my girl, Bill.’ Hence, we’re dealing with a male name for certain. This seems to be the prevailing opinion on the net, too

  47. There’s no doubt My Girl, Bill is about a fellow explaining to his friend, named Bill, that the girl in question actually belongs to him.

  48. Here’s a couple more –
    Pedro, the Fisherman
    McNarmara’s Band (a beauty from Bing Crosby)

  49. And here’s more-
    Up there Cazaly
    Charming Billy (Tex Morton)
    Young Abe Lincoln
    Oh Johnny Oh (Great song for learning how to square dance)
    John and Marsha (Stan Freberg)

  50. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your most recent stuff, Fisho. Excellent!

  51. Johnny Angel.
    Open the door, Richard

  52. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Fisho – oldies but goodies!

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