Everybody likes music. People who write music especially like music. So, if you love music and you write songs, why not just write a song about music you love? While such a topic seems like it might not work, each of these songs shows how it can be done.
Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke”
This is not a song that would normally be covered on Hybrid Moments, but this is my favorite song of all time. From the horn breaks, to the melody, to the use of the flat 6 chord to, to the bass line – it’s just perfect. Not only that, but the whole song is just a love letter to the music that Stevie loves most, complete with name-checking Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and of course, Sir Duke himself, Duke Ellington.
Common Rider – “Classics of Love”
Common Rider is Jesse Michael’s post-Op Ivy band that released two records in the 90s. This song is the lead-off track from Common Rider’s first album, Last Wave Rockers. Of course, Jesse went on to name his next band, Classics of Love. This song is an awesome slow ska number that is almost identical to “Sir Duke” in lyrical motivation: the love of music and name-checking some greats. This time it’s Desmond Decker, the Clash, and again, Ella Fitzgerald.
Of course, this isn’t the only example of a “love letter to music” song from Michaels. There’s also “Sound System” by Op Ivy, among others.
The Replacements – Alex Chilton”
Now for something totally different, Paul Westerberg lays out his love for Alex Chilton, most famous for singing for theperennially under-known Big Star. I like how this song paints Alex Chilton in a unique light. Other highlights in this songs are the handclaps in the chorus and that awesome short bridge.
Propagandhi – “Banger’s Embrace”
This song is about seeing the classic under-the-radar Canadian metal band, Sacrifice, reunite. I love how the lyrics focus on the adolescents feelings of music fandom (“We are fucking stoked, just like we’ve always been, since we were pimpled pubeless teeens”).
The Ergs – “Introducing Morrissey”
This one is great because it never name-checks Morrissey or the Smiths, but talks about the first Smith’s formation and ends on the lifted refrain of “life is long when you’re lonely.” This subtlety is a nice touch.
Another thing I love about all these songs is how excited the singer sounds in all of them. The love of the music being talked about comes through in the performance.
So there you have it. If you trying to write a song and don’t have a topic, just write about the music you love!