"Different Songs With the Same Name: Part 1
Inspiration can come at odd times. On one of my recent trips to Rock NYC Headquarters, Helen Bach and I got into a wee bit of legal trouble. It’s a long story that started with us…um…borrowing all of the money in the petty cash fund and ended with us carpet bombing unsuspecting pedestrians with doughnut holes from our penthouse suite in Trump Plaza. When the arresting officer arrived, he looked at Helen, sighed heavily, and said, “Not you, again.” Helen simultaneously assumed the position while winking at me and cooed, “I’m head over heels over this creep.” I later remarked how impressive it was to reference Tears for Fears (“Head Over Heels”) and Radiohead (“Creep”) while being arrested. Helen quickly shot back, “I was quoting The Go-Gos and TLC, you sexist pig!” Just another day in the city.
OK, if you were a neurotic music nerd (hey, is that a mirror I see?), you could name different songs with the same title all day. However, the Rock NYC editorial staff took mercy on you and this list is limited to the Top 30. Special thanks to Rob O’Connor, Sandy Skrinjaric, Bill Holdship, Vic Garbarini, and Craig Stenseth for contributing to this effort.
First, the Honorable Mention category: “Rock Your Baby,” George McCrae, Justin Timberlake. “Tell Me Why,” The Beatles, Neil Young. “Blue Sky,” The Allman Brothers, The Bottle Rockets. ”Jackson,” Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams. “Dallas,” The Flatlanders, They Might Be Giants; “Let the Good Times Roll,” Louis Jordan, Shirley & Lee. “Crazy Love,” Poco, Van Morrison. “Cherry Bomb,” The Runaways, John Mellencamp. “Stay,” David Bowie, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.
30. “She’s the One,” Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones. Thematically, these both end up in the same place, although Bruce waxes poetic about French cream, thunder, and the midnight sun, while the Ramones get to the point of the matter, “When I see her on the street/You know she makes my life complete.”
29. “Born to Lose,” The Heartbreakers, Ray Charles. The Heartbreakers had a great rock ‘n’ roll sound, like a careening semi with a flat tire that was swerving to avoid ditches. Ray Charles popularized the 1943 classic country Ted Daffan hit with his 1962 remake.
28. “Heartbreaker,” Led Zeppelin, Pat Benatar, Motorhead, Dionne Warwick. This is an interesting one. The Benatar number leads the pack, because it accommodates the most fun alternate lyrics (“You’re an…egg shaker, milk taker, leaf raker/Don’t ya mess around with me”). The Zep and Motorhead songs are strong rockers in those acts respective wheelhouses. The Warwick contribution is a bit weaker but warrants a Psychic Network shoutout. Even the Rolling Stones played a (doo doo doo doo) variation on this heart breaking them.
27. “Don’t Bring Me Down,” Animals, ELO. The Animals song was a Goffin/King composition that was a major international hit in 1966. ELO scored their biggest U.S. hit with “Don’t Bring Me Down” in 1979, even with the rather tortured “snake in the grass/break your glass” rhyming scheme.
26. “Best of My Love.” Eagles, The Emotions. Probably the biggest commercial success of different songs with the same name, since they both went to #1 on the pop charts. The Emotions song actually went to #1 twice, but the second time was a theft by Mariah Carey titled, ironically, “Emotions.”
25. “One,” Harry Nilsson, U2, Metallica. Harry Nilsson wrote and recorded “One” (as in “the loneliest number”) in 19689 and it was popularized by Three Dog Night in 1969. U2’s “One” is the most important song ever, because Bono sings it and the Metallica contribution is a sprightly waltz about a veteran with a body ravaged by war. Party on, Garth!
24. “Tonight’s the Night,” Neil Young, The Shirelles, Rod Stewart. Rod The Mod and The Shirelles both produced cork poppers from different gender perspectives with this theme, while Neil deals with a drug overdose and needs a new Econoline van loader.
23. “Fire,” Jimi Hendrix, Ohio Players, Pointer Sisters, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Like “Hearbreaker,” a four bagger that crosses genres to include classic Hendrix, ‘70s funk, a Springsteen cover hit, and the ‘60s persona that was as eccentric as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
22. “Love is All Around ,” The Troggs, Joan Jett. The last major U.S. hit for The Troggs was a tender ballad – a 180 degree turn from their traditional caveman garage rock sound. Joan Jett, and Husker Du, covered “Love Is All Around” (also known as the “Theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show”), which was written by Sonny Curtis of “I Fought the Law” fame.
21. “B Movie,” Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron. Costello dishes out one of his typically well constructed put downs, while Scott-Heron looks at the “Ronald Reagan as John Wayne image” and finds more style than substance.
20. “There She Goes Again,” Marshall Crenshaw, Velvet Underground. Crenshaw kicked off his first album with a beautifully crafted pop song about romantic obsession. The Velvet Underground’s tale is about a woman that finds her independence through prostitution. Add in “There She Goes” by the La’s for a nice variation/continuation of the theme.
19. “Walk Like a Man,” The Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen. The Four Seasons topped the pop charts with their 1963 hit, while Bruce picked up the theme for a song about growing into a marriage. As Rob O’Connor has noted, Springsteen is a king of title taking with “Mansion on the Hill” (Hank Williams), “Two Faces Have I” (Lou Christie), and “Ramrod” (Duane Eddy).
18. “I’m on Fire,” Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Twilly Band. Iman Lababedi calls this Bruce effort an “astounding, atmospheric sex song” and I concur. Twilley is primed and ready to change the fortunes of a lover less female.
17. “Starry Eyes,” The Records, Roky Erickson. The Records must be the only band in history to debut with a single about how poorly they were being managed. Roky channels the spirit of Buddy Holly to address the girl of his dreams.
16. “Let There Be Rock,” AC/DC, Drive By-Truckers. A unique double name entry in that the DBTs number wasn’t simply influenced by the AC/DC song, it’s a direct homage to it. Both songs have the same crank up the speakers, empty the whiskey bottle, and scream to the heavens testosterone vibe. That’s a good thing.
Next time we’ll take on the Top 15 title sharing songs. We’ll go “Crazy” and “Runaway” after saying “Bye Bye Love,” but we won’t worry about our “Bad Reputation.