Let’s face it. Male musicians (and some female ones) have been writing songs about their female muses ever since the first teenybopper swooned for some nerd holding a guitar. The girl’s-name-for-a-title song is an important part of the pop music aesthetic, and one that I personally love. A song that is a straight-up ode to a woman I’ll never meet has always held a certain mystique for me, as it lets me speculate about who she is and what her relationship with the musician is really like. So today I bring you nine songs written about nine ladies: The “I Call Your Name” edition of BitchTapes.
1. Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly
This song is so darned cute (I have long fostered an unrealizable crush on Mr. Holly, so I am biased). However, my mother Cynthia Louise has reminded me several times that the original was called “Cindy Lou” and Holly was asked to change it. Poor Cindy.
2. Susanne by Weezer
Clearly inspired by the great Buddy Holly, Weezer released this awesome jam as a part of the Mallrats soundtrack. As a MAJOR fan of both the band and the movie, I couldn’t love this song more. It kind of makes me wish my name was Susanne. (Of course, the only song I can find featuring my actual name is by the douche-y teen band Metro Station, so you won’t be hearing that one today.)
3. Cleo Cleopatra by Kari Lynn
Not all name songs are about someone the artist knows personally. Kari Lynn sings this song for the historical Cleopatra, whom she clearly admires. This track makes life on the Nile seem like so much fun!
4. Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys really know how to come together and make a girl feel special. One of the things I like most about this, the 45 version of the song, is that it has an outtake at the end where the band all sings different girls’ names and can’t quite get it together, but in a really good-natured way. Fun!
5. Jessica by Adam Green
Leave it to Adam Green to make me feel sympathetic toward Jessica Simpson (the inspiration for this track). It sounds like Green honestly wants Jessica to heed his advice and cheer up a little bit.
6. Mary by Scissor Sisters
This Elton-John-inspired song was recently featured on Pitchfork’s top 500 songs of the decade, and it’s easy to hear why. Sooo good.
7. Bernadette by The Four Tops
Another group song, The Four Tops really let loose on this one. Bernadette! Please get back together with them, OK? Thanks.
8. Gloria by Patti Smith
What needs to be said about this Van Morrison cover by Patti Smith? It speaks loudly and clearly enough for itself, and the message is that it kicks ass and anyone named Gloria is totally lucky.
9. Oh Yoko! by John Lennon
Sigh. Isn’t this song romantic? I know there are a lot of Ono haters out there, but I think they should just listen to this track a few times and get over it.
What name songs would you include in an “I Call Your Name” mix?