Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published May 12th 2022
Not songs as lists but songs about lists
We're about to get meta!
I was challenged on Twitter to write a list about songs about lists. Not songs that were just lists of things, but songs where the word list is important to the song. Yes, some of them are lists, but the word list is mentioned if that is the case.
Sorry, I know this is confusing, but I cannot resist a challenge.
So, here are ten songs where the idea of a list is important to the song. I have put them in order of release, which is fine because the first song is actually much older than that.
Intrigued? Good. Let's look as songs about lists that are not necessarily lists!
'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (live)' by Bruce Springsteen (1978)
And we start with a man who is "making a list and checking it twice". This song dates back to the 1930s (at least, that's when the first known broadcasts of the song occurred; the first known recorded version was 1934), and it has become a beloved Christmas carol, but my favourite version is when Springsteen and the E-Street Band do it live. It is so much fun.
'Kiss On My List' by Hall & Oates (1980)
One of the many songs that Hall & Oates recorded that became hits, this is a little more pop than some of their earlier stuff, and yet still maintains their vocal harmonies. However, it is such a cool pop song, one that heralded the way their music would go over the next ten years.
'Danger List' by John Cougar (1982)
From the American Fool album, this deep cut was overshadowed by the two classic singles that came from that work, and even the number of classic songs from this era (before he took on his own surname of Mellencamp). However, it is still a wonderful track from an album that is truly a great one.
'[Untitled]' by R.E.M. (1988)
I don't like this hidden track/untitled track thing, but it's been around for decades so what you gonna do? This one from the album Green closes out side 2. It is a slow song with some nice harmonies, with an interesting lyric about letting go: "I made a list of things to say/ But all I really want to say… Hold her and keep her strong/ While I'm away from here…"
'Celebrity Hit List' by Terrorvision (1996)
A band not that well-known outside their native UK, they play straight-ahead rock with a slight traditional punk edge that makes their music, to me, feel almost out of time. Weird lyrics, but a good song for all that.
'Guest List' by The Eels (1997)
I know nothing about this band. I have this song on a compilation album from the time and it was one of the stand-out tracks on it for me. Slow, atmospheric and just an easy listen, this is a great song. I really should track down more of their work.
'Time Well Wasted' by Brad Paisley (2005)
It's been a while since I've put Brad on a list like this. While the word list only comes up very sporadically, and the song is a list of things he'd rather be doing than working, I think it deserves to be on here, just because he acknowledges this is a list of those things. And it is a song I personally can relate to.
'My List' by The Killers (2006)
Yes, they sang one of my favourite songs of all time, but The Killers are more than just that one song. This song with its build to an anthemic chorus is a wonderful piece of music, so much so that it was one of the first songs I thought of (after Hall & Oates) for this column.
'Blank Space' by Taylor Swift (2014)
This is actually my favourite track from the 1989 album, where Taylor admits she's a psycho ex-girlfriend… although she now claims it is a made-up story. It doesn't matter, as Taylor sings about her long list of ex-lovers who say that she is insane. This is a really good pop song.
'Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To' by Courtney Barnett (2021)
I reviewed the source album for this track and said this song was a highlight, though I could not put my finger on why. I think it really is the music and the way her voice complements it so well. That and some really strong lyrics.
And there we are, ten songs about lists. There is a good chance I forgot a few as, as well as looking at titles, I was going by my memory of the lyrics of the songs. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section, but remember the song has to be about a list, not just a list of things.
As always, I hope you enjoyed it, and, again, as always, if you have any suggestions for music-themed columns, please let me know in the comments below. I can't guarantee I will get to them all, or can even do them, but I will give it my best go.
Thanks for the 'list of lists' Steven.
I can't think of any more list songs - but I am wondering if you have done any articles on songs about letters?
This one came to mind - Take a letter Maria -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvFsULpx0To