Sunday, February 21, 2010

Songs named after the band

So lots of albums have a title track, and generally the stakes are a little higher for that song. You expect it to either be the best song in the album, or to carry some special significance in the album's message. And then, lots of bands have an eponymous album. It's often their first record, and they name it after themselves maybe to help get their name recognized more. We often expect the eponymous album to define the band's sound or style in a way.

But a song named after the band is exceedingly rare. There's something weirdly deliberate and recursive about an eponymous song, much more so than an album, so to me it's fascinating to find them. You're almost guaranteed to learn something about how the band sees itself. Many of them are anthems/mission statements, as you would expect, but many are not.

Wilco - Wilco (The Song).

Do you dabble in depression?
Is someone twisting a knife in your back?
...This is a man with arms open wide
A sonic shoulder for you to cry on
Wilco will love you, baby

A very accurate, and of course tongue-in-cheek, picture of Wilco. It's good to know they don't take themselves too seriously.

Belle and Sebastian - Belle and Sebastian. The band gets its name from a pretty old French novel of the same name. I don't read a word of French, but as far as I can tell, the characters in this song are modern versions of those from the novel, full of the band's usual adolescent unease and set to a catchy shuffle.

Okkervil River - Okkervil River Song. Gorgeous, folksy, and pretty much exactly what you'd expect this song to be about.

Built to Spill - Built to Spill. A great, grungy mission statement for a very under-appreciated band.

The Arcade Fire - The Great Arcade Fire. From a demo tape they recorded in their early days. Hilariously, it is quite literally about an arcade on fire.

The Rolling Stones - Like a Rolling Stone. I seriously can't believe it took them until 1995 to do this.

Flake Music - The Shins. Before they were called the Shins, they were Flake Music. Not their greatest song, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Sigur Rós - Sigur Rós. I have no idea what the hell this is.

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