Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published September 4th 2021
Old friends are good friends
Honesty time – I don't have many friends. I tend to be insular and like my own company, and I have some odd habits, especially with regards to when I write and exercise, so even attending social functions becomes awkward for me.
However, just recently, I have made some friends online (at least, it feels like friendship) and I reconnected with an old friend in real life, and that has made me re-evaluate my previous status as the hermit who lives in the old house and emerges when he runs out of food. Apparently, there are people out there willing to be friends with anyone.
Of course, as usual, this brought forth in me a bout of listening to music, and finding songs about friends.
As I mentioned in my Rolling Stones cover songs column, these things have a habit of getting out of hand. And, yes, I found too many. Sorry (especially to the editors). So, this is the first of 3 columns about friends.
Now, most of these songs are positive, but not all. I have avoided songs about a best friend's partner but apart from that, the songs are about friends and friendship. Now, to reduce the number even further, the word "friend" has to be in the title.
So, the first list is the "classic list", songs from the 1970s and 1960s about friends. I managed to cull this list down to 12, so a decent number. One song per artist, I need to like the song, normal rules apply. There were a number I cut from this list, so if I left out your favourite song about friends from this time period, please add it in the comments section below (and that includes the 2 Beach Boys songs with the word in the title).
Songs about friends, the first list!
'See My Friends' by The Kinks (1965)
Lyrically, this is the simplest song The Kinks ever recorded, but basically, a guy's lost his girl but he still has his friends. The tinkling piano gives it a strange almost music-hall-meets-beat-music aura that just makes the song a bit of fun.
'He Was A Friend Of Mine' by The Byrds (1965)
Roger McGuinn rewrote a much older song to be this track about JFK who he considered a friend because he was such a breath of fresh air in the US presidency that everyone felt like they just knew him. The vocal harmonies are as sweet as ever; the Byrds were so very good.
'With A Little Help From My Friends' by The Beatles (1967)
The all-time classic friend song, from the classic Sgt Pepper's… album… yes, classic all round. Ringo Starr's voice is well suited for the lyrics about needing friends to get through life. Such a good song.
'My Friend Jack' by The Smoke (1967)
Some psychedelia with the opening line that seems to be about the only bit of the song anyone remembers: "My friend Jack eats sugar lumps…" I grew up believing it was about a horse, but when I was older I learnt it was about a drug-dealer. Oh well. Still a friend, still a great song.
'Friends' by Led Zeppelin (1970)
I love the acoustic guitar, the strings coming in and Plant's voice on this weird track from Led Zeppelin III. More than that, it's about being positive and making new friends. This is one of the many overlooked songs in the Led Zep canon that should be better known.
'You've Got A Friend' by James Taylor (1971)
Yes, I am fully aware that Carole King did the original on her Tapestry album, but I grew up with the Taylor version and it is my favourite. This is a song about friendship, pure and simple, and how important it really is. Such a beautiful song.
'Friends' by John Paul Young (1975) Sorry! Between writing this and posting it, there is now no video available legally!
One of the negative songs here, about friends who walk away when things get bad, and the singer wanting to know who his friends really are, which sort of is the theme of the whole Hero album – what happens when things go bad? Still, as a song no one else seems to remember, this deserves a second chance.
'You're My Best Friend' by Queen (1975)
While not my favourite Queen song, this song about a friend, not a lover, is one that I still really like, and I know many Queen fans who rate it very highly. May's guitar soars here as much as Mercury's voice and it is a really nice sentiment to put to music.
'All My Friends Are Getting Married' by Skyhooks (1975)
The break-up of that old friendship group through matrimonial occasions. I know my friends from my teenaged years and I went through it. The old life gets put aside, and that includes friends, as wedding bells chime out. Sad and depressing, but still a great track.
'Hello Old Friend' by Eric Clapton (1976)
In light of recent, uhh, complications with Mr Clapton's beliefs, I am going to separate the art from the artist. Because, at his prime, Eric Clapton was known as a guitarist extraordinaire. This is from his AOR phase in the mid-70s to early-80s, laid-back and pleasant to listen to. And I'll leave it there.
'Are 'Friends' Electric' by Tubeway Army (1979)
Yep, proto-New Wave from Gary Numan's band, this song had to be here, didn't it? This is such a strange song and when I first heard it (probably a year or so after it was released) I thought it sounded like the science fiction I had recently started reading, only in musical form. My love for electronica started here.
'Friends Of My World' by The Boys Next Door (1979)
I have listened to this song for years, have read the lyrics, all the rest and I have no idea what it is supposed to be about. Sorry. But I really like it and Nick Cave was already the Nick Cave we have come to know, even this early in his career.
So, there we are, an even dozen (though eleven videos) covering the sixties and seventies, and also covering a large number of different musical stylings. Hope you found something here you enjoyed, and if not, then maybe the next column on this topic might be more to your liking!