10 Response Songs

10 Response Songs

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Posted 2022-03-04 by Steven Gfollow
There has been a trend going back for decades that is called the "response song" or the "answer song" or the "return song". This is when an artist records a song that is an answer to a song recorded earlier. Sometimes it's because the two artists had dated in the past and were sniping at one another, sometimes it was because they felt the song was wrong, sometimes it was because they felt the story needed to go on.

But, no matter what, responses as songs have been popular for years.


I have mentioned a response song before, looking at death songs , and that is a fine example, but I will have all new songs here. So, I should say that for this list I need to like both the response and the original song, so 'Dawn Of Correction' by The Spokesmen, a response to 'Eve Of Destruction' by Barry McGuire isn't here because, while McGuire's song is excellent, the response is awful. I am going to avoid that slew of 2000s response songs that are all about the F-word. I have also avoided parody songs.

Anyway, here are some response songs!
'Mannish Boy' by Muddy Waters (1955)

**Response to
'I'm A Man' by Bo Diddley (1955)**

Bo Diddley released his song to brag about being a manly man, who can satisfy women and do manly things. Muddy Waters responded by claiming an even greater amount if machismo, all the while proclaiming he was still a boy at the same time. One-up-man-ship in song, using the same music, so very puerile, and yet with some amazing blues guitar thrown in.
'Peggy Sue Got Married' by Buddy Holly (1959)

**Response to
'Peggy Sue' by Buddy Holly (1957) **

In the first song, Buddy Holly tells us about his girlfriend. In the second song things have not gone well and she's married to some-one else now. It's like a continuation of the first song, but the response is unmistakeable. It's actually quite depressing, truth be told. But it's Buddy Holly so it's magnificent as well.
'Judy's Turn To Cry' by Leslie Gore (1963)

**Response to
'It's My Party' by Leslie Gore (1963) **

Another artist who released a response to their own song, but this time in the same year. In the party song, Judy goes off with Johnny; in the response, Judy's left alone because Johnny's back with the singer. Interesting, but, to be honest, I think both girls are better off without him. He seems a bit of a two-timing jerk.
'Back In The U.S.S.R. ' by The Beatles (1968)

**Response to
'California Girls' by The Beach Boys (1965) **

Some said it was a pastiche or parody of the Beach Boys, but McCartney in an interview indicated it was a response to the hyper-nationalism that the USA is known for and which grates on citizens of other countries. He aimed it at Brian Wilson as part of the friendly rivalry they shared. It could also be said to be a response to Chuck Berry's 'Back In The U.S.A.' but the Beach Boys sounding music is more indicative of where it was aimed.
'Killing Me Softly' by Lori Lieberman (1972)

**Response to
'Empty Chairs' by Don McLean (1971) **

This song has been covered by many, most noticeably Roberta Flack, but Lori Lieberman was the one who wrote it, despite the two men who got a co-writing credit making sure she was removed from its history. Lori saw McLean perform 'Empty Chairs' and this song was the result. It might be a response to the singer, but this was the actual song that killed her softly.
'Sweet Home Alabama' by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)

**Response to
'Southern Man' by Neil Young (1970) **

There is no doubt about who and what this song is a response to – they are name-checked in the lyrics of the Skynyrd classic. Politics thrown in everyone's face, from both left and right, and both songs are stunning.
'Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad' by Meat Loaf (1977)

**Response to
'I Want You, I Need You, I Love You' by Elvis Presley (1956) **

According to Steinman himself, the record company people who heard the first few songs from Bat Out Of Hell wanted something they felt was more radio-friendly. He was listening to the Elvis song while trying to come up with something, and so he wrote a response to it. Can't get much simpler than that. And the song is amazing.
'God Save The Queen' by Sex Pistols (1977)

**Response to
'God Save The Queen' (1744) **

Yes, the Sex Pistols responded to the traditional anthem in the most direct way possible – by naming their song after it. Taking the patriotic tone and juxtaposing the realities of the working class and the class divide was a master-stroke and set the Pistols onto a music-world-changing run.
'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division (1980)

**Response to
'Love Will Keep Us Together' by Neil Sedaka (1973) **

Apparently, the late Ian Curtis heard this track and decided that it was not right, because he was married but was falling in love with someone else, and had to express this new paradigm. Arguably, the Joy Division song is the better track, more realistic and less twee.
'Major Tom (Coming Home) ' by Peter Schilling (1983)

**Response to
'Space Oddity' by David Bowie (1969) **

It could be said that Bowie himself released a response track with 'Ashes To Ashes' but this one is so much more blatant and direct, from German musician Schilling. Major Tom makes his decision in the new lyrics, and it is actually a great song. The 12" version (yes, I own it) mixes the German and English versions together, by the way, and it is so brilliantly odd.
And there we are, 10 response songs. There are many more, I know (yes, looking at you, Taylor Swift and her exes), so what have I missed out? Feel free to add more in the comments section below.
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83608 - 2023-06-11 06:43:40

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