I knew this would happen. It’s one of the occupational hazards of embarking on any ambitious undertaking like compiling lists. When all is said and done (to quote a non-name song title by an act that will pop up three times below), and posted, all of those memories that you couldn’t tap into when you needed them most suddenly come rushing back.
With my latest list, the one I posted yesterday of the 12 best name songs, the onslaught began when a friend gently reminded me of “Roxanne,” The Police’s 1978 breakthrough Top 40 U.S. single. Frankly, I never particularly cared for that song about a guy in love with a prostitute (more than a decade before Richard Gere and Julia Roberts made it Hollywood in Pretty Woman) and its hint of potential violence (“Told you once, I won’t tell you again, it’s a bad way”), but how could I forget that other song about another difficult girl by the same name?
Remember “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO? In addition to being one of the earliest rap hit singles in 1984, it kicked off a series of response songs, the first of which launched the career of Roxanne Shante, one of the first star female MC’s.
Why hadn’t I thought of Roxanne (either of them) earlier — or these great tracks (in chronological order) with names for titles? (Fun fact: One of the real-life women who inspired the second song was the singer of the third one.)
“Suzanne” Leonard Cohen/Judy Collins
“Guinnevere” Crosby, Stills and Nash
“Carey” Joni Mitchell
“Belle” Al Green
“Elaine” ABBA (B-side of “The Winner Takes It All,” which I used to own on 45)
“Suzy & Jeffrey” Blondie (B-side of “The Tide Is High,” which I used to own on 45)
“Dudley” Yeah Yeah Yeahs