‘Cause you got to have friends

Valentine’s Day is generally considered a holiday to celebrate romantic love.  But this year, I’m making the suggestion that we also regard it as a day to celebrate the love of a good friend.

Friendships occur throughout our lives, sometimes waxing and waning as we age.  But some friendships last for decades, or even our entire lives.

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This weekend my wife invited several of her best friends from high school days in Cleveland, most of whom are turning 60 this year, to celebrate their milestone together here in Malibu and Santa Barbara.  A few of their daughters, who have been friends since they were toddlers, are attending as well.  I anticipate much hilarity, good-natured teasing, embarrassing old photos, plenty of wine and many sincere hugs of gratitude for the blessings of deep friendships.

My contribution to the celebration is this week’s post on “Hack’s Back Pages,” which singles out a dozen great classic songs about friends, and another ten songs designated as “honorable mention.”  I encourage the ladies, and all my readers, to use this Spotify playlist as a soundtrack for your weekend.

There’s nothing like friends, old and new!

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“You’re a Friend of Mine,” Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne, 1985

Unknown-148As the sax player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Clemons was pretty well known when he decided to do a solo project in 1985.  Songwriter/producer Michael Walden wrote this joyous song and gave it to Clemons to record on his “Hero” album.  Clemons invited Jackson Browne to sing it with him as a duet, and it reached #18 on the pop charts that year.  The lyrics underscore the importance of unconditional reliability among close friends:  “Oh, you can depend on me, over and over, over and over, know that I intend to be the one who always makes you laugh until you cry, and you can call on me until the day you die, years may come and go, here’s one thing I know, all my life, you’re a friend of mine…”

“You’ve Got a Friend,” James Taylor and Carole King, 1971

4b80a6e11ccb0309c04bc45047e467b7--photo-tapestry-carole-kingProbably the song about friends that tugs at most people’s emotional heartstrings is this heartwarming Carole King tune, which appears on her monumental 1971 album, “Tapestry.”  James Taylor was recording his “Mud Slide Slim” LP next door in the same L.A. studio, and they both played on each other’s recording sessions.  Once Taylor heard this song, he pleaded images-89with King to allow him to record his own version, and she agreed.  (Quite the friendly gesture, no?)  It went on to become Taylor’s only #1 single and one of his signature tunes.  The two friends reunited in 2010 to record and perform this song and many others from these fondly loved albums:  “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again, winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call, and I’ll be there, hey ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend…”

“Friends,” Bette Midler, 1972

Unknown-149Actor/musician Buzzy Linhart was part of the Greenwich Village scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s as an instrumentalist and producer, working with everyone from Richie Havens and Phil Ochs to John Sebastian and Jimi Hendrix.  Bette Midler was also part of that scene, performing periodically in the Continental Baths.  Linhart and Mark “Moogy” Klingman came up with the loose, fun tune “(You Got to Have) Friends,” which Midler heard and immediately recorded in a campy arrangement that ended up entitled just “Friends” on her debut LP “The Divine Miss M.”  It was one of three singles released from the album, and became her unofficial theme song:  “Standing at the edge of the world, boys, waiting for my new friends to come, I don’t care if I’m hungry or poor, I’m gonna get some of them, ’cause you got to have friends, ’cause you got to have friends…”

“See My Friends,” The Kinks, 1965

Unknown-155Ray Davies has said this song is about the death of his older sister, Renée, who lived for a time in Ontario.  Upon her return to England, she gave Davies his first guitar for his 13th birthday.  She then fell ill, owing to an undiagnosed hole in her heart, and died while dancing at a night club.  The lyrics to “See My Friends” deal with mourning the loss of a loved one, and the need to have friends to lean on.  Released in July 1965, this Kinks single reached #10 in Britain but not at all in the US, which severely disappointed Davies:  “See my friends layin’ across the river, she is gone and now there’s no one else to take her place, she is gone and now there’s no one else to love, ‘cept my friends…”

“Be My Friend,” Free, 1970

Unknown-151Vocalist Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser co-wrote this somewhat serious track from Free’s third LP “Highway.”  It was written with vocalist Paul Kossoff in mind, who struggled with emotional insecurity made worse by the fame the band got from their huge 1970 single “All Right Now.”  Kossoff said he loved the song, but he nonetheless suffered a breakdown that led to the premature dissolution of the band.  The lyrics speak of how crucial it is to have a friend to help us through our struggles:  “All I need is a friend, someone to give a helping hand when I’m afraid in the night, someone to squeeze me and tell me it’s all right, you know I worry such a lot, and I would give all I’ve got just to have someone believe in me, just to do that and put me back on evenly, baby baby, be my friend…”

“Good Friends,” Joni Mitchell and Michael McDonald, 1985

Unknown-152By the mid-’80s, Mitchell had developed a bitterness about the music business as well as conservative government policies, and it showed up in her work, especially on her 1985 LP “Dog Eat Dog.”  But there were exceptions, especially the leadoff track “Good Friends,” a marvelous duet with singer Michael McDonald.  The adjacent photo is from a compelling music video of the song that’s worth watching.  The lyrics describes her complicated relationship with her then-husband Larry Klein, who she said was more a friend and fellow musician than a spouse:   “I have to come and see you maybe once or twice a year, I think nothing would suit me better (right now) than some downtown atmosphere in the dance halls and the galleries, or betting in the OTB, synchronized, like magic, good friends, you and me…”

“Friends,” Elton John, 1971

elton-john-and-songwriter-bernie-taupin-attend-a-private-party-at-universal-studios-on-july-10-1973-in-universal-city-california-photo-by-ed-caraeffgetty-imagesEarly in their career, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were eager to get their songs exposed to audiences in as many ways as possible, so they accepted an invitation to write songs for the soundtrack of a quiet little French film called “Friends.”  It was released in early 1971 to little or no fanfare, but the accompanying “Friends” LP got attention because John had already scored his big hit “Your Song” by then, as well as his acclaimed “Tumbleweed Connection” album.  I have always had a soft spot for the John-Taupin songs on this neglected LP, particularly the title track, which I have adopted almost as a mantra for my life:  “Making friends for the world to see, let the people know that you got what you need, with a friend at hand, you will, see the light, if your friends are there, then everything’s all right…”

“You’re My Best Friend,” Queen, 1975

queen-youre-my-best-friend-1976-36While most of Queen’s voluminous song catalog was written by either vocalist Freddie Mercury or guitarist Brian May, a few were composed by bassist John Deacon.  One of his best efforts was “You’re My Best Friend,” a love song to his wife that appeared on Queen’s breakthrough LP “A Night at the Opera” in 1975.  As we all know by now, it was “Bohemian Rhapsody” that stole the show on that album, but “You’re My Best Friend” was no slouch, reaching #7 on the UK singles chart and #16 in the US:  “Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had, I’ve been with you such a long time, you’re my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true, I really love you, oh, you’re my best friend…”

“Old Friends/Bookends,” Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

Unknown-154How extraordinary that Simon wrote such worldly-wise songs as this one when he was only 27.  The first side of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends” album was an impressive song cycle that looks at several stages of life, including teenage angst, young married travelers, midlife divorce, and the declining years.  “Old Friends” and its followup track “Bookends” offer a sophisticated, poetic look at old age and the value of lifelong friendships and cherished memories:  “Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly, how terribly strange to be 70, old friends, melody brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears…”

“Hello Old Friend,” James Taylor, 1974

Unknown-153A friend doesn’t always have to be a person.  It could be a pet, or even a favorite place that one continually returns to.  For Taylor, that place is Martha’s Vineyard, where he had spent many summers as a boy, and it’s where he built a home for himself and then-wife Carly Simon to start a family.  He wrote about it in “Hello Old Friend,” a track from his reflective 1974 LP “Walking Man.”  His constant touring during this phase of his life took its toll, and he was always very happy to return to his island home in the woods:  “Hello, old friend, welcome me home again, well, I’ve been away but that’s all over now, say I can stay for October now, stay a while and play, hello, old friend, isn’t it nice to be home again…”

“Can We Still Be Friends?” Todd Rundgren, 1978

Unknown-156Both as the leader of Utopia and as a solo artist, Rundgren has always been more about artistic statements than commercial concerns.  Consequently, his albums and singles have performed respectably but have never been huge hits, except perhaps his 1972 single “Hello It’s Me.”  In 1978, Rundgren enjoyed his third-biggest single “Can We Still Be Friends?” from his “Hermit at Mink Hollow” album.  He has said the song is autobiographical, with lyrics that describe how, despite numerous attempts to fix his relationship with longtime companion Bebe Buell, it wasn’t going to work…but he wanted things to remain amicable:  “Let’s admit we made a mistake, but can we still be friends?  Heartbreak’s never easy to take, but can we still be friends?  Can we still get together sometime?…”

“That’s What Friends Are For,” Dionne Warwick & Friends, 1985

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(Clockwise from upper left): Gladys Knight, Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John

Written by the great Burt Bacharach and his sometime writing partner Carole Bayer Sager, this hugely popular song was first recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982 for the soundtrack to the comedy film “Night Shift.”  Three years later, it was recorded by Dionne Warwick with help from Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight and released as a charity single for AIDS research and prevention, earning more than $3 million.  It not only spent four weeks at #1 in early 1986, it went on to win the Grammy for Song of the Year for the songwriters, and Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal for the performers.  It reminds those who are going through challenging times that their friends are always there to support them:  “Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure, that’s what friends are for, for good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more, that’s what friends are for…” 

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Honorable Mention:

Friends,” The Beach Boys, 1968;  “Thank You for Being a Friend,” Andrew Gold, 1978;  “Friend of the Devil,” The Grateful Dead, 1970; “Waiting on a Friend,” The Rolling Stones, 1981;  “Snowblind Friend,” Steppenwolf, 1970;  “How Many Friends,” The Who, 1975;  “Good Friends,” Livingston Taylor, 1970;  “Thank You Friends,” Big Star, 1978;  “Hello Old Friend,” Eric Clapton, 1976;  “My Best Friend,” Jefferson Airplane, 1967.

Roy Orbison singing for the lonely

“Here’s another clue for you all, the Walrus was Paul…”

In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and pretty much ever since, popular songwriters have reveled in the occasional practice of inserting references to other musical artists in the lyrics, delighting their listeners with sometimes cryptic, sometimes overt mentions of well-known colleagues in the rock music arena.

The Beatles never went so far as to mention other artists, but they referred back to themselves more than once.  On 1968’s “The White Album,” John Lennon used his nonsensical song from the previous year, “I Am the Walrus,” to make a tongue-in-cheek reference to Paul McCartney in the lyrics to “Glass Onion” (see quote above).

peter_paul_mary-i_dig_rock_and_roll_music_s_3When folk music started morphing into folk rock in the mid-’60s, folk artists like Peter, Paul and Mary found themselves waning somewhat in popularity.  The solution:  Paul Stookey collaborated with songwriters James Mason and Dave Dixon to write “I Dig Rock and Roll Music,” a whimsical tune that name-dropped several of the rising (and established) stars of the new genre, and the result was a comeback #9 hit for the trio:  “I dig The Mamas and The Papas at the Beat, Sunset Strip in L.A., they’ve got a good thing going when the words don’t get in the way…”  “I dig Donovan kind of in a dreamed out, tripped out way, his crystal images, hey, they tell you ’bout a brighter day…  And when The Beatles tell you they’ve got a word ‘love’ to sell you, they mean exactly what they say…”

arthur-conley-sweet-soul-music-atlantic-11Similarly, R&B singer Arthur Conley teamed up with Otis Redding in 1967 to rework the old Sam Cooke song “Yeah Man” with new lyrics that called out several of the hot soul singers of that period.  The result, “Sweet Soul Music,” was a #2 hit on the pop charts and a Top Ten hit in Europe:  “Spotlight on Lou Rawls, y’all… Spotlight on Sam & Dave, y’all… Spotlight on Wilson Pickett, now…  Spotlight on Otis Redding, now… Spotlight on James Brown, y’all, he’s the king of them all, y’all…”

220px-The_South's_Gonna_Do_It_-_Charlie_DanielsThe musical fraternity of artists from the American South have supported each other throughout their careers, perhaps never as overtly as on The Charlie Daniels Band’s 1975 anthem “The South’s Gonna Do It,” which references no less than eight groups from that region:   “Well, the train to Grinder’s Switch is runnin’ right on time, and them (Marshall) Tucker boys are cookin’ down in Caroline, people down in Florida can’t be still when ol’ Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s pickin’ down in Jacksonville, people down in Georgia come from near and far to hear Richard Betts pickin’ on that red guitar…  Elvin Bishop sittin’ on a bale of hay, he ain’t good lookin’, but he sure can play, and there’s ZZ Top, and you can’t forget that old brother (Wet) Willie‘s gettin’ soakin’ wet, and all the good people down in Tennessee are diggin’ Barefoot Jerry and C.D.B...”

THE_MAMAS_AND_THE_PAPAS_CREEQUE+ALLEY-604509The Mamas and The Papas chief songwriter John Phillips wrote the 1966 autobiographical song “Creeque Alley” that told the background story of how he, Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot all used to hang out (and perform) with artists who later went on to greater fame in other bands.  Six verses of lyrics delve back to when they sang in Greenwich Village clubs and eventually worked their way to Los Angeles:  (John) Sebastian and Zal (Yanovsky) formed the (Lovin’) Spoonful, Michelle, John, and Denny gettin’ very tuneful, (Roger) McGuinn and (Barry) McGuire just a-catchin’ fire in L.A., you know where that’s at…”

Unknown-74In “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel’s #1 hit from 1989, he assembled a virtual grocery list of celebrities and events that marked the years from roughly 1950 to the late 1980s.  He didn’t comment on them, he just rattled them off, like a CNN feed line across the bottom of the TV screen.  A few of these were fellow musicians:  “Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland…”  Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, space monkey, Mafia…”  Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo…”  Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion…”

Don_McLean_-_American_Pie_(album)_CoverartAmerican Pie,” one of the biggest hits of 1971-72, famously chronicles the development of rock and roll from its mid-’50s infancy through the end of the ’60s.  Most of McLean’s lyrics use code words to identify the artists he’s singling out — “the jester” (Bob Dylan), “the king” (Elvis Presley), “the players” (The Rolling Stones) and “the marching band” (The Beatles).  Perhaps most easily identifiable was his allusion to Mick Jagger in the phrase “Jack Flash sat on a candlestick,” and the reference to The Byrds and their hit single in this line:  “Helter skelter in the summer swelter, the birds flew off to the fallout shelter, eight miles high and falling fast…”

the-righteous-brothers-rock-and-roll-heaven-paraiso-del-rock-and-roll-capitolBy the mid-’70s, rock music had already lost several of its stars to untimely deaths, so the time was ripe for a song like “Rock ‘n Roll Heaven,” which calls out the names and hits of four fallen stars.  Just before  The Righteous Brothers recorded it, songwriters Alan O’Day and Johnny Stevenson added a final verse to include two additional deaths, and the song ended up a #3 hit in the summer of 1974:  Jimi (Hendrix) gave us rainbows, and Janis (Joplin) took a piece of our hearts, and Otis (Redding) brought us all to the dock of a bay., sing a song to light my fire, remember Jim (Morrison) that way…”  “Remember bad bad Leroy Brown, hey, Jimmy (Croce) touched us with that song, time won’t change a friend we came to know, and Bobby (Darin) gave us ‘Mack the Knife,’ well, look out, he’s back in town….”

stevie_wonder-sir_duke_s_1One of Stevie Wonder’s biggest hits of the ’70s was “Sir Duke,” which came from the multi-platinum LP “Songs in the Key of Life.”  Wonder was a huge fan of Big Band music and its legends, and the track’s lyrics pay homage to Duke Ellington and four more of his peers from that period:  “But here are some of music’s pioneers that time will not allow us to forget, for there’s (Count) Basie, (Glenn) Miller, Satchmo (Louis Armstrong), and the king of all, Sir Duke, and with a voice like Ella (Fitzgerald) ringing out, there’s no way the band can lose…”

HollandCoverThe Beach Boys were on both ends of the name-dropping bandwagon.  In 1973 for their “Holland” LP, they wrote a suite called “California Saga,” in which they mentioned a stalwart hqdefault-19of the outdoor festival scene: “Have you ever been to a festival, the Big Sur congregation, where Country Joe (McDonald) will do his show, and he’d sing about liberty…”  Soon after, Neil Young referenced California’s favorite sons in his song “Long May You Run,” recorded by The Stills-Young Band in 1976:  “Maybe The Beach Boys have got you now, with those waves singing ‘Caroline,’ (oh Caroline No)…”

220px-The_Royal_Scam_album_coverSteely Dan name-checked two artists in two different songs in their catalog.  First, in the track “Everything You Did” from the 1976 LP “The Royal Scam,” the lyrics outline an argument between a warring husband and wife.  One of them offers R-2600245-1374933046-1601.jpega suggestion to keep others from eavesdropping on their conversation:  “Turn up The Eagles, the neighbors are listening…”  Then on “Gaucho” in 1980, the big hit single “Hey Nineteen” offers lyrics that illustrate the challenges of dating someone considerably younger who may not be familiar with your favorite artists:  “Hey Nineteen, that’s ‘Retha Franklin, she don’t remember the Queen of Soul, it’s hard times befallen The Soul Survivors, she thinks I’m crazy but I’m just growing old…”

Dvk88njW0AAk-WJThe Dutch rock band Golden Earring has had a long history of success in their native Netherlands, but their big moment on US airwaves came with the 1973 Top Ten hit “Radar Love,” a classic tune about a guy who’s always on the road, and dying to get home to his lady.  To drive the point home, the lyrics refer to a long-ago romantic hit by a long-forgotten female vocalist who used to top the charts:  “The radio is playing some forgotten song, Brenda Lee‘s comin’ on strong…”

Unknown-72Soft rock crooner Stephen Bishop enjoyed success in the ’70s and ’80s with hits like “It Might Be You” (from the “Tootsie” film soundtrack) and “Save It For a Rainy Day,” but his biggest chart hit was the 1976 tearjerker “On and On,” which referenced Ol’ Blue Eyes himself in the second verse:  “Poor ol’ Jimmy sits alone in the moonlight, saw his woman kiss another man, so he takes a ladder, steals the stars from the sky, puts on (Frank) Sinatra and starts to cry…”

4ac225c45ac0719eabaf8d7e62bac261British rockers Deep Purple were scheduled to perform at a venue in Montreux, Switzerland, which was to be recorded for a live album, but at a concert held there the previous night, a reckless fan accidentally started a fire.  Deep Purple turned that story into their 1973 signature song, “Smoke on the Water,” and the lyrics called out the band that had been performing:  “We all came out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline to make records with a mobile, we didn’t have much time, Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around, but some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground…”

Unknown-73Don Brewer, the drummer for Grand Funk Railroad,  came up with the song “We’re An American Band” and they got studio wizard Todd Rundgren to produce it, resulting in a #1 US hit that broadened the band’s audience.  The lyrics relate the ups and downs of life on the road, where their time spent offstage was sometimes spent in the company of other artists:  “Up all night with Freddie King, I got to tell you, poker’s his thing, booze and ladies keep me right as long as we can make it to the show tonight, we’re an American band…”

511Iw4aV0ALIn 1972, British rockers Mott the Hoople were about to hang it up due to lack of commercial success.  They got a big lift from David Bowie, who penned “All the Young Dudes” for them to record, and it ended up becoming one of the anthems of the glam rock movement on both sides of the Atlantic.  Two references to other artists show up in the lyrics:  “Television man is crazy saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks, oh man, I need TV when I’ve got T. Rex…”  “And my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones, we never got off on that revolution stuff, what a drag, too many snags…”

Club_at_the_end_of_the_streetElton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin finally got around to referencing another musician on Elton’s 1989 LP “Sleeping With the Past,” which contains songs meant to reflect the style of 1960s R&B.  On the Motown-inspired “Club at the End of the Street,” which leveled off at #28 on the U.S. singles chart, Taupin described the atmosphere you might find in smaller tucked-away venues:  “From the alleyways where the catwalks gently sway, you hear the sound of Otis (Redding) and the voice of Marvin Gaye, in this smoky room, there’s a jukebox plays all night, and we can dance real close beneath the pulse of a neon light…”

lynyrd-skynyrd_sweet-home-alabama_21In the early ’70s, when Neil Young wrote a couple of songs (“Southern Man,” “Alabama”) taking the South to task for its racist history, Lynyrd Skynyrd took exception and wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” in defense of their homeland.  Their lyrics came right out and mentioned Young not once but three times in one verse:  “Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her, well, I heard ol’ Neil put her down, well, I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow…”

51IsE5BzGDL._SS500In 1983, for his LP “Hearts and Bones,” Paul Simon wrote the song “The Late Great Johnny Ace,” which used the name of the often neglected ’50s R&B singer to talk about the night John Lennon was shot:  “On a cold December evening, I was walking through the Christmastide, when a stranger came up and asked me if I’d heard John Lennon had died, and the two of us went to this bar, and we stayed to close the place, and every song we sang was for the late great Johnny Ace, yeah yeah yeah…”

hqdefault-20Back in 1980, when John Mellencamp was going by the name Johnny Cougar, he had his first chart success (#17) with “Ain’t Even Done With the Night,” his first attempt at writing a soul song.  The lyrics speak of the frustration and eager hormones involved in early romance, referencing one of the best singers from that genre:  “Well, our hearts beat like thunder, I don’t know why they don’t explode, you got your hands in my back pockets, and Sam Cooke‘s singin’ on the radio…”

hqdefault-21Thunder Road,” one of Bruce Springsteen’s most celebrated songs from his pivotal “Born to Run” album, tells the tale of a young man longing to break out of his dead-end existence and coax the target of his infatuation to join him on his journey of discovery.  He uses the name of a ’50s icon to push the point home:  Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, hey, that’s me, and I want you only, don’t turn me home again, I just can’t face myself alone again…”

Jackie-Wilson-SaidIn 1972, Van Morrison boldly kicked off his “Saint Dominic’s Preview” LP with “Jackie Wilson Said (“I’m in Heaven When You Smile),” an overt reference to the energetic R&B singer (and his debut single, “Reet Petite” from 1957).  The lyrics use Wilson’s name to start the song, but the rest of it is really just a joyous love tune:  Jackie Wilson said it was ‘Reet Petite,’ the kind of love you got knock me off my feet, let it all hang out, and you know I’m so wired up, don’t need no coffee in my cup, let it all hang out…”

This trend shows no signs of slowing down, either.  Barenaked Ladies had two songs on their 1992 debut LP called “Brian Wilson” and “Be My Yoko Ono.”  Then there’s Taylor Swift’s 2006 debut single “Tim McGraw,” followed not so coincidentally by Tim McGraw’s 2007 song “Kristofferson” and Eric Church with his 2011 country hit “Springsteen.”  Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera teamed up that same year with the #1 pop hit “Moves Like Jagger,” which focused on how the narrator claims he can mimic the famous singer’s stage presence:  “Look into my eyes and I’ll own you with them moves like (Mick) Jagger, I’ve got the moves like Jagger…”

09ff8cbd79868ca287deef0138df0675.1000x1000x1Even Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, two of the most celebrated songwriters of the past half-century, have not been averse to mentioning another artist by name.  Mitchell’s wonderfully playful “Barangrill” from 1972’s “For the Roses” album cites Unknown-75one of pop music’s icons from the ’40s and ’50s: “The guy at the gas pump, he’s got a lot of soul, he sings ‘Merry Christmas’ for you just like Nat King Cole…”  Dylan’s 2006 track “Thunder on the Mountain” makes a blatant reference to a relatively new singer he admired:  “I was thinking about Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from crying, when she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line, I’m wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be, I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee…”