Which great songs mention other great songs?

29 May 2022, 16:00

The Wombats in 2007 and Ian Curtis of Joy Division in 1979
The Wombats in 2007 and Ian Curtis of Joy Division in 1979. Picture: Colin McPherson/Corbis/Lex van Rossen/MAI/Redferns/Getty

Sometimes music gets self-referential... Here are some of Radio X's favourite lyrics about other people's lyrics.

  1. The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division

    "So let the love tear us apart, I've found the cure for a broken heart."

  2. Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down

    "And I've seen him with girls of the night and he told Roxanne to put on her red light." (The Monkeys reference Mr Sting and The Police)

  3. Travis - Writing To Reach You

    "And what's a Wonderwall anyway?" Fran Healy claimed he was inspired to write this song after hearing the Oasis classic.

  4. Oasis - D'You Know What I Mean

    "The blood on the tracks and it must be mine The fool on the hill and I feel fine" Another Beatles reference. Well, two actually. And a Bob Dylan one.

  5. Eminem - Stan

    The popularity of Phil Collins on the US hip hop scene remains a mystery to us here in Britain, but Eminem's classic tale of a stalker not only mentions one of his biggest hits - In The Air Tonight - but also name-checks one of the great rock 'n' roll urban myths. That is, the song is "About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drownin'" while Collins looked on, helplessly. Or something.

  6. Arctic Monkeys - Kneesocks

    Turner again, this time referencing a song within a film; namely the opening credits of Martin Scorcese’s 1973 classic Mean Streets that features The Ronette’s Be My Baby on the soundtrack: “Like the beginning of Mean Streets, you can be my baby, be my baby.”

  7. The Beatles - Glass Onion

    Lennon gets super-self-referential on this “White Album” track, mentioning a whole stack of other Beatlesongs: Lady Madonna, Strawberry Fields Forever, The Fool On The Hill and I Am The Walrus.

  8. Snow Patrol - Hands Open

    "Put Sufjan Stevens on and we'll play your favourite song / 'Chicago' bursts to life and your sweet smile remembers you."

  9. Placebo - Song To Say Goodbye

    "Your needle and your damage done" (from the Neil Young classic)

  10. John Lennon - How Do You Sleep?

    This time Johnny gets referential about his "estranged" writing partner in The Beatles, taking a shot at Paul McCartney's recent output: "The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday’ / And since you’ve gone you’re just ‘Another Day’". Ouch.


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