15 Homages in Lyrics

By Adam Morrison

There are two ways to pay tribute to your influences. The “Blurred Lines”/”Got to Give It Up” trial is apparently how not to do it. The other way (which is still okay–for now) is to namecheck the people whom you admire in your lyrics. Here are 15 songs that do just that.

1. The lyrics of Deep Purple‘s “Smoke On the Water” tell a story that involves a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

2. I’ve heard that the guys in Oasis were always somewhat fond of the Beatles. The nearly title track from Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? album includes the line “Walking to the sound of my favourite tune/Tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon.”

3-4. Rancid don’t hesitate to mention their musical heroes. Desmond Dekker is mentioned in “Roots Radicals,” and “the great Joe Strummer” gets a tip of the hat in “Indestructible.”

5. Jesse Michaels, who was in Operation Ivy with Tim and Matt of Rancid, also dropped Desmond Dekker’s name in a song. “Classics of Love” also includes mentions of Ella Fitzgerald and The Clash album London Calling, among others. NSFW for language.

6-7. Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Give It Away” identifies Bob Marley as a “poet and a prophet” and “walkin’ like he talk it,” and “Deep Kick” includes the lyrics “But the Butthole Surfers said, ‘It’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do’.”

8. In a track recorded in the eighties and released in 1991, Bob Dylan states that “No one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell.”

9. In “Put It Off,” the closing track on the Tragically Hip‘s Trouble at the Henhouse album, Gord sings, “I played ‘Love Tara’ by Eric’s Trip on the day that you were born.”

10. Sublime‘s “KRS-One” found Brad Nowell singing about what he knew because of the rapper.

11. The voice of Rush’s Geddy Lee is discussed in Pavement‘s “Stereo.”

12. Sleater-Kinney‘s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” includes the title in the lyrics and the line “I wanna be your Thurston Moore.”

13. The end of Gallows‘ “Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)” finds Wade MacNeil naming some deceased punk legends. NSFW.

14. I’m sorry if this puts the song in your head, but Train‘s “Hey, Soul Sister” mentions the band Mr. Mister. They might be on the radio. I’m not sure.

15. The lyrics of Metric‘s “Gimme Sympathy” include the question “Who’d you rather be: the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” plus the request for “something like ‘Here Comes the Sun’.”

Anything you can add to this list?

* * * * * *

House of Love’s “Beatles and Stones” works. – AC

4 thoughts on “15 Homages in Lyrics

  • I suppose Bowie’s “Song For Bob Dylan” is a little too obvious, but it’s one I’ve always enjoyed.

  • Wesley Willis has a dozen or so, but I’ll pick Alanis Morirsette as his best of.
    Cheap Trick – Surrender, for Kiss.
    Pixies – I’ve Been Tired, for Lou Reed


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.