Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published May 21st 2023
Jim, James and Jimmy - they're all here in song
My last column (songs about Carol) was one I'd started a while ago when I was going through a series of name columns. Well, looking through my files, this was another one I had started as well, but at the time I had only written about one song and listed two others. I wondered if that meant I didn't have enough songs to fill this one up. Well, I checked and I do have enough songs!
The title is "Jim and Friends" because I will also be including James and Jimmy here, as is only fair. There are some famous people and some popular pop culture figures mentioned, but they are all Jims in one way or another. And, yes, I do realise some are surnames. I don't think it matters.
So, usual rules apply – one song per artist, one version of each song, I need to like the song. And, with that in mind, let's listen to songs about Jim!
'Go Jimmy Go' by Jimmy Clanton (1959)
Just a bit of fun late-50s pop, when the rock aspects were really getting into the music. It might sound a little twee to modern audiences, but I do still like it.
'Jimmy Mack' by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas (1966)
I first heard this song as a disco remix of the original, but stripped of the tinny drums and too much treble, the song is actually a really good one. Not one of Reeves' better-known tracks, this is still one of her better ones in quality.
'Sweet Baby James' by James Taylor (1970)
I always thought this was a self-insert song, but when I saw a concert of local artists doing James Taylor covers about 15 years ago, I discovered it was written for his nephew who had been named after him. A pleasant song that verges on lullaby territory while maintaining its country base.
'Doctor Jimmy' by The Who (1973)
A longer song from the Quadrophenia concept album. I have to say, this song worked better in the movie, as there was easier to get context (for me) but the original is still a wonderful piece of music.
'James Dean' by The Eagles (1974)
Early Eagles' songs tend towards the country side of music, but this album cut is a definite rock and roll track, and is one of my favourite songs from the On The Border album.
'Reuben James' by Kenny Rogers (1978)
Country from a country music legend, this might not be one of my favourite of Kenny's tracks, but it is still a really good song that does not push the country music sound too hard.
'James' by The Bangles (1984)
An album cut from All Over The Place, the band's debut album. This is just a fun pop-rock track with Susannah Hoffs taking on lead vocals. I think this could have been a decent single, had they chosen to release it at the time.
'Just Like Jesse James' by Cher (1989)
Cher when she was in full-on stadium pop-rock diva mode, releasing power ballad after power ballad to great success. This is my favourite era of Cher's music, and this is certain one of the better songs she released.
'James Bond Theme' by Art Of Noise (1989)
I had so many choices to make here, from the original full band version, a rock version, even an a cappella version. However, I have decided to include here a strange bit of 1980s pop from a band that had a habit of taking older tracks and making them modern (for the time).
'James Brown Is Dead' by LA Style (1993)
This is a great bit of techno dance music from the 1990s, and my club-going days, where I first encountered it. The band is from Europe, as it seemed so many dance tracks were in the 1990s, and this is one of the very good ones.
'Are You Jimmy Ray?' by Jimmy Ray (1997)
A true one-hit wonder, this debut song from Jimmy Ray might not have been a good thing to go with, as he is already questioning who he is. Apparently, he was an Elvis impersonator or rockabilly performer, but the record company inflicted this upon him. Still, a fun little track.
'St. Jimmy' by Green Day (2004)
From the classic American Idiot album, this song is one of the pivotal songs in the story that that album tells, and became one of the main songs in the stage version when the album was made into a musical.
'Jim Crow' by John Mellencamp (2007)
A protest song, basically saying that the Jim Crow laws of the US might have been gone, but were still there in spirit. Mellencamp's track is one that, coming from his later career, not many know about, and that is a shame because his later work is on a par with Springsteen.
'James Bond' by Iggy Pop (2019)
One of my favourite tracks from Free, Pop's 2019 album, a track about a man being subservient to his female partner. Pop still has it, even today.
'Goodbye Jimmy Reed' by Bob Dylan (2020)
And we finish with, again, one of my favourite tracks from an album, this being Rough And Rowdy Ways, Dylan's album from a few years ago that shows he still has "it", lyrically and musically.
One of the widest spreads of years and decades I think I've done in a column, with songs from so many musical styles, there seems to be something in these 15 Jim songs for everyone. At least, I hope you found something to enjoy.
If you have any ideas for music, book or film columns you'd like to see, please leave a comment below.
And thanks for reading!