Today: songs that comment on their own song-ness. They step outside themselves to say, not that, THIS. THIS SONG YOU ARE LISTENING TO, RIGHT NOW.
Up top: one I did a while back, from here:
“Map Ref. 41º N 93º W”, the catchiest song ever recorded about cartography, seems to anticipate a future in which systems both political and technological would increasingly seek to describe every last corner of our reality, making surveys and assigning GPS coordinates and laying claim not just to formerly-mysterious land, but to the unknown geography of human minds and hearts.
But the map is not the territory; messy reality doesn’t slot squarely into boxes. Like the way that the burbling 3-beat pattern of the liquid bass never quite fits into the relentlessly-ticking 4-beat grid of the drums.
And dig the way they get meta, snarking “Chorus!” when it rolls around at 1:35, their massed harmonies descending on approach to meet the word “altitude”:
“Disappointed” is the last track on Morrissey’s Bona Drag, an early singles comp, at a time when I think there was still some question about how much farther the guy could go without guitar genius Johnny Marr, and its final, Moz-hater-trolling lines (complete with faux-audience response) are:
[crowd cheers wildly]
No, I’ve changed my mind again
[crowd groans AWWWWWW]
Goodnight, and thank you
But farther he did go, to the disappointment of many. In this next one, he sardonically highlights those unique structural features that make HIS songs so special:
It could’ve been me
Everybody says so
“Ah, you have loads of songs
So many songs
More songs than they’d stand
La, la la la la
Here’s a famous one, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift:
(and Cale’s version IS the best. FACT.)
An ex- of mine was really bothered by this next song. “BUT IT IS!”:
This IS a love song:
This is NOT a love song (I’ll be nice and provide the soothing cover, rather than the thumpin’, caterwaulin’ original):
This is also not a love song, nor is it The Greatest Song In The World. It’s just a Tribute:
Not to argue with Sir Elton, but I think MY song is actually “Bennie and the Jets”:
This one might count – is it ABOUT “Crocodile Rock”, or IS it “Crocodile Rock”?!:
For Mike. I think it counts when a band makes up a band to make a song about, and also pretends to be that band in the song (however, I disqualified TMBG’s “We’re the Replacements” – since the Replacements exist, that’s just a parody):
For sending everyone down a recursive rabbit hole of madness:
Add other examples in comments!
*The fourth video. See what I did there?