A list of real songs about fictional songs (e.g. "Jailhouse Rock")


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/30/crocodile-rock-time-warp.html


“The Time Warp”, “Monster Mash” and a few more of these are not songs about songs; they are somgs about dances. #pedantic


Elton John “Your Song” treads the line, I think. Could be interpreted as talking about a second piece of music.


Hey, I once tried to start a bbs topic about this! Sweet Baby James and Obla-di Obla-da were the ones that set me off…


Tenacious D’s Tribute.
ETA: already in the other discussion. I guess we’re really supposed to go contribute over there, not start a new list here. Looks like I should get myself some more coffee and/or have picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.


I don’t see the difference between The Time Warp and The Twist, in terms of self-reference. Both say, hey, let’s do this particular dance, just that the Time Warp has already been done n times (perhaps infinity times) but we haven’t done The Twist just yet.


Not sure I buy this premise. Many of those songs are about dances, even if they are self-fulfilling. Even The Twist started out as a song about a dance before it became a dance craze. The Time Warp, although part of a musical, is still about a dance. Crocodile Rock is probably closer to what is intended here: it’s a song reminiscing about a fictional style of music (as much as Bernie Taupin lyrics can be parsed).


Fun game!
Maybe the most beautiful example is the Brecht-Weill “Bilbao-Song” where Lotte Lenya keeps trying to remember a song that starts “Alter Bilbao-Mond” (That Old Bilbao Moon) but she can only recall fragments. It is indeed a haunting refrain.
The song she sings is about a dive called “Bill’s Balhaus” where it was always full of noise & smoke, the moon shone green, & we sang this old song. O, how does it go? “He smoked Brazilian cigars…” You might not have liked it but it was beautiful. Nowadays the place is very genteel, with ice-cream, & the green moon has been cancelled. But back then…O, how does that old song go?


I’ll also wage good money the Cramps have referred to songs that don’t exist, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Also, Starr’s song technically references a dance in the making, so…I’m just bad at this.


I am currently writing “I Want a Cowboy Song for Christmas”.

It’s a cowboy Christmas song about wanting a cowboy song for Christmas.

Not sure if this qualifies.


According to the lyrics, the Monster Mash was a song as well as a dance, because when the coffin-bangers were about to arrive with their vocal group, the Crypt Kicker Five, “They played the mash, they played the monster mash.”


Yeah I agree here. I think a song about itself is more like This Song.


The Band Played Waltzing Matilda would be a song about a song about a song.


Not to be “that guy,” but many of these dances are actually about architecture.


Hey, we’re trying to write about music here.


How about Die Meistersinger?


This kind of counts:


I feel like there are a thousand not-quite-fitting examples where song narrators attribute lines to other people, but there isn’t a properly titled song that they’re referencing.

“They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie…”

“She bought herself a guitar
She learned a few chords
She wrote me a song and it goes like this…”



Killing me softly with his song, song sung blue, just an old-fashioned love song, a somebody done somebody wrong song, …