Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Philosophy of Rock

Rick Nelson Sings "For You"
1963, Decca, Mono in NM might bring $25-40

Rock songs as instructions for life?  For posing the big questions?  As cautionary tales?  Yeah, sometimes….

I was discussing some pending life decision with a friend recently and she said “Well, you know what Ricky Nelson would say ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’”

Now I could have set her straight about Ricky Nelson not being the originator of this phrase (or the song either) but: 1) I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.  I had a ginormous crush on Ricky Nelson when I was nine or ten, and 2) I couldn’t for the life of me remember the actual origin.  (I’ve looked it up since and it was Alexander Pope who first used it in his Essay on Criticism).

Today I decided to peruse my itunes library and see how many other songs I could find that might fit this category.  I hit 100 in a trice (as Alexander Pope might have put it)–perhaps due to my rather loose parameters for what fits the category. 

Please help me enlarge the list.  What songs can you think of that advise, warn or philosophize?

Some of these are the original artist and some are covers. Here's my list:

  1. Keep on Chooglin’- CCR
  2. Don't Eat The Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa
  3. Tell It Like it Is-Aaron Neville
  4. Wake Up-Arcade Fire
  5. Tighten Up-Archie Bell & The Drells
  6. Love the One You’re With-CSN&Y
  7. Let the Mystery Be-Natalie Merchant & David Byrne
  8. Can I Get a Witness-Marvin Gaye
  9. Come Together-The Beatles
  10. Walk On-U2
  11. People Get Ready-Curtis Mayfield
  12. You Can't Hurry Love - the Supremes
  13. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? - the Lovin' Spoonful
  14. Carry that Weight-The Beatles
  15. Don’t Let it Bring You Down-Neil Young
  16. Light On Candle-Peter, Paul and Mary
  17. Be Kind of My Mistakes-Kate Bush
  18. Can’t Get There From Here-R.E.M.
  19. Too Late To Turn Back Now - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
  20. Think of London-Tindersticks
  21. How to Be Perfect Men-Songs:Ohia
  22. Don't Take Your Guns To Town - Johnny Cash
  23. What a Fool Believes - Doobie Brothers
  24. We Can Work it Out-The Beatles
  25. You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd - Roger Miller
  26. You Don't Mess Around With Jim - Jim Croce
  27. Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye-Leonard Cohen
  28. Make Your Own Kind of Music-The Mamas and the Papas
  29. One Thing Leads To Another - the Fixx
  30. Bright Side of the Road-Van Morrison (cover)
  31. Let It Alone-Old Crow Medicine Show
  32. Gotta Serve Somebody-Bob Dylan
  33. You Ain’t Going Nowhere-Bob Dylan
  34. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright-Bob Dylan
  35. The Time They Are A-changing-Bob Dylan
  36. Respect Yourself-Aaron Nevile w/ Mavis Staples
  37. Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady - Helen Reddy
  38. Walk Like A Man - Four Seasons
  39. A Change is Gonna Come-Aaron Neville
  40. Please Remember Me-Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt
  41. Let’s Live-The Neville Brothers
  42. You Should Be Dancing - Bee Gees
  43. The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
  44. Don't Sleep In The Subway - Petula Clark
  45. All You Need Is Love - the Beatles
  46. Get a Grip-Aerosmith
  47. Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys-Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
  48. Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
  49. Express Yourself - Madonna
  50. Shut Up and Dance-Aerosmith
  51. Whatever Gets You Through The Night - John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
  52. Try and Little Tenderness-Al Green
  53. Don’t Turn Around-Ace of Base
  54. Practice What You Preach-Alex Taylor
  55. When You Say Nothing at All-Alison Krauss
  56. What The World Needs Now Is Love - Jackie DeShannom
  57. Get On the Line-The Archies
  58. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free - Sting
  59. It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be-Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston
  60. Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves-Aretha Franklin w/ the Eurythmics
  61. Please Pardon Yourself-The Avett Brothers
  62. Walk Like an Egyptian-the Bangles
  63. It’s All Been Done-Barenaked Ladies
  64. With a Little Help From My Friends-The Beatles
  65. Don't Talk To Strangers - Rick Springfield
  66. Just Like You-Keb Mo, Bonie Raitt, Jackson Browne
  67. Stand Up (and be Strong) Keb Mo
  68. You Can Love Yourself-Keb Mo
  69. God Trying to Get Your Attention-Keb Mo
  70. Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy-The Kinks
  71. Good Times Bad Times Led Zepplin
  72. Stay-Lisa Loeb
  73. Talk to Me, Talk to Me-Little Willie John
  74. It’s a Hard Life-Nanci Griffith
  75. Smile-Lyle Lovett
  76. Don’t Give Up the Fight-The Magic Numbers
  77. Simple Man-Lynyrd Skynyrd
  78. Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There is a Season)-The Byrds
  79. Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real thing-Marvin Gaye
  80. Change What You Can-Marvin Gaye
  81. Life is for Learning-Marvin Gaye
  82. It Takes Two-Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston
  83. If You’d Learn From My Mistakes-Moby Grape
  84.  These Are Days-Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs
  85. What a Wonderful World-James Taylor, Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
  86. Everybody Hurts-R.E.M.
  87. Wake Up and Dream-Richie Havens
  88. Shouldn’t We All Be Having a Good Time-Richie Havens
  89. Fools Rush In-Ricky Nelson
  90. Love Radiates Around-The Roches
  91. Mama Said-The Shirelles
  92. Get a Job-The Silhouettes
  93. Don’t Let Nobody Turn you Around-Steve Miller Band
  94. Play That Funky Music White Boy-Wild Cherry
  95. Better World a-Coming-Woody Guthrie
  96. Don’t Fight It-Wilson Pickett
  97. Slap Leather-James Taylor
  98. Don’t Let the World Get in Your Way-The Jayhawks
  99. You Can Leave Your Hat On-Joe Cocker
  100. 100. Have a Little Faith in Me-Joe Cocker


  1. Haven’t digitized my collection yet, but these lyrics come to mind:

    “Maybe God can be on both sides of the gun” “Say When,” The Fray

    “Don’t speak I know what you’re thinking”, No Doubt

    “I’ve learned one thing
    From how we were
    That an ounce of prevention
    Is worth a Pound of cure”, Tom Waits “Purple Avenue”

    “The less I seek my source from some definitive /
    the closer I am to fine” Indigo Girls

    “Papa listen to your princess so that she will find /
    attentive princes familiar” Alanis Morissette

    “I’ve looked at love from both sides now /
    From give and take and still somehow/
    It’s love’s illusions I recall /
    I really don’t know love at all” Joni Mitchell

    “You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes” Eagles

    “Accidents Will Happen,” Elvis Costello

    “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, & Understanding?” Elvis Costello

    “All My Ex’s Live in Texas
    That’s why I hang my hat
    In Tennessee,” George Strait

    “God does, but I don’t /
    God will but I won’t /
    that’s the difference between God and Me,” Lyle Lovett

    “Romance is mush /
    Stifling those that strive /
    I’ll live a lush life /
    In some small dive,” Billy Strayhorn

    “A man needs a maid,” Neil Young

    “I believe my shirt is wearing thin
    And change is what I believe in,” REM

    “God Made Me,” The Sundays

    “It’s my Destiny to be the King of Pain,” Sting

    “Simple Twist of Fate,” Dylan

    “Breathe…dash away your tears and sorrow /
    When the World begins to tear you apart /
    Find the daffodil in heart and let it grow” ShaeLaurel

    “If everyone cared and nobody cried
    If everyone loved and nobody lied
    If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
    We’d see the day nobody died.” Nickelback

  2. Nice choices Matt :)

    I was thinking about this and Billy Joel has some in his songs like:
    Only the good die young
    You may be right
    We didn't start the fire
    Oh and a couple funny ones :)
    "You Need A Man Around Here" by Brad Paisley
    Another Lyle Lovett song "Don't touch my hat"
    And Indie Arie's "There's Hope" is a really cool song.

    This is fun I'm going to be thinking of more all week now :)