Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Never Heard of 'Em

In Liz Phair's "Stratford-on-Guy," which I heard this afternoon, she describes herself "pretending to be in a Galaxie 500 video." Is that the most obscure band mentioned in a song by a major artist? I can think of the Mugwumps geting name-checked by the Mamas and the Papas in "Creeque Alley," and then there's the line in They Might Be Giants' "Twisting" that goes: "She doesn't have to have her Young Fresh Fellows tape back."

More often, though, you get things like Mott the Hoople with their Beatles and their Stones, as well as T. Rex, who show up in the Who's "You Better You Bet" as well. It would have been cooler if they'd given a shout-out to Desmond Dekker or the Casinos or somebody like that.

12 comments:

MJN said...

There's the Del Fuegos from Juliana Hatfield's "My Sister." Maybe not as obscure as Galaxie 500, but close.

Anonymous said...

The Clash name-dropped a number of reggae artists ... does that count?

Joe said...

Roy Harper seems more obscure to me -- does anyone in the US know who he is for any reason except that he's in the title of a Zeppelin song? And even then, do Zeppelin fans know who he is?

MJN said...

I'm familiar with Roy Harper as the vocalist on Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar," but that's the only other reason I've heard of him.

Joe said...

Yeah, forgot about his Pink Floyd cameo. Still I submit: Pretty obscure. He's a folkie-poet-rock dude who put a string of albums in the UK, some with Jimmy Page guesting on guitar. Zeppelin named the last track on Zep III in his honor.

Rob said...

The Rolling Stones mentioned the Dead Kennedys in “Sympathy for the Devil”--10 years before the DKs played their first gig!

Galaxie 500 were a lot more famous than Liz Phair was, at the time she sang this song, so it's not exactly like Van Halen singing about Top Jimmy, or Lynyrd Skynyrd singing about the Swampers. More like Garth Brooks singing about Chris LeDoux, Golden Earring singing about Brenda Lee or John Fogerty singing about Buck Owens.

Anonymous said...

How about George Harrison's tribute to "Legs" Larry Smith ("Ladies and Gentlemen (His Name Is Legs)")?

That one must have baffled his American listeners.

Kinky Paprika said...

The Band namedropped Spike Jones on "Up On Cripple Creek." Is he obscure?
(More so now than then, I think.)

I would also bet that the name Blind Willie McTell means nothing to most non-Dylanologists.

Joe said...

Spike Jones scored plenty of pop hits in the '40s and '50s, so not really more obscure to the Band's audience any more than Weird Al would be today.

Please, Mr. DJ, all Van Morrison wants to hear is some John Lee Hooker on the radio -- you could do a whole list of white guys shouting out their blues heroes.

Joe said...

Also: The Van Halen thing is a lot like "Hats Off to Roy Harper." No one outside of LA had ever heard of Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs. (Who were better than Roy Harper, if you're scoring the game at home!)

T. Nawrocki said...

I didn't even know the Swampers were a real band.

On the other hand, Spike Jonze isn't obscure at all.

Repoz said...

In the non-obscurio...

On Erik Hallden's latest he sings...

"I may not be Harry Belafonte
but my kisses taste like Del Monte cause that's what's in my cupboard.

I'm just like John Cale
I'm just like John Cale
Ohhh, I'm just like John Cale

Except I never met Lou Reed"

Genius!