On December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot and killed outside his and Yoko’s NYC apartment. I remember where I was when I heard the news – in my morning Geometry class, freshman year of high school. How the word spread that quickly without electronic media I’m still not certain. We were all stunned, in a state of disbelief that a Beatle was dead.

In “The Ballad Of John & Yoko” he sings the somewhat prophetic words:

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are goin’
They’re gonna cruify me

john lennon – the ballad of John & Yoko

The song provides the theme for this week’s blog called “The Name Game” highlighting songs featuring peoples’ names in their titles. There are so many that the lists could go on forever, but included are some of my very favorites in the first Spotify playlist, and some honorable mentions in the second, no less great, and still very worthy of a listen. The lists could go on with hundreds more, but these are songs that I enjoy and felt worth sharing.


Some songs of note:

A few of my favorite songs of all-time: Elton John’s “Levon” and “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters,” Dire Straits’ “Romeo & Juliet,” Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile” though I much prefer the guitar work of Monte Montgomery’s version, which my uncle Joey, who played guitar in bands his whole life called one the the best guitar performance he had ever heard.

Chris Cornell’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” I had first heard his version on American Idol, sung by David Cook, who did it proud. I remember listening, and not quite able to place the song initially, though I was certain I knew it. Then it dawned on me – such an amazing interpretation of MJ’s hit pop song.  I couldn’t wait to give Chris’ original interpretation a listen.

Again an American Idol reference, one of my faves, Crystal Bowersox, covering Janis Joplin’s cover of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Red Sox fans can’t pass up a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which has become a Fenway Park tradition.

Some trendy name songs over the years include Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen,” Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny,” Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.”

There are 3 versions of “Gloria” between the two playlists, because how can you decide between versions by Van Morrison and Them, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison (who’s 80th birthday is today) and the Doors??? I love ❤️ them all!

And such a classic memory of one of my favorite Police songs “Roxanne” was provided by Eddie Murphy in the 1982 movie 48 Hrs.

And who knew that one of my idols, Stevie Ray Vaughan, provided a public service announcement before his passing, after achieving sobriety, offering “It’s real necessary to make sure that the kids understand that drugs and alcohol have nothing to do with what Rock & Roll is about. It’s really the downfall of Rock & Roll. I’m trying to get that across.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkUP2gJxc50

Yet I can’t get beyond they’re cutting his song and guitar solo short, so here he is performing the song in its entirety in Daytona Beach, 1987.

And considering the death of rock idols beyond John Lennon, I remember the day I heard that Stevie Ray died in a plane crash, on my drive into medical school in the summer of 1987 (08/27/87). Tragic 😢

A few songs of note made the list without a name in their title, as the name is such a prominent part of the song, truly what many think the song is called, with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aka “Major Tom” and The Moody Blues “Legend Of A Mind” or “Timothy Leary.” They seemed worthy additions.

Billy Joel (10), The Beatles (10), and Elton John (9) appear most frequently on the two lists, perhaps a testament more to my musical tastes than their penchant for writing songs with names in them, or more likely a mixture of both.


And for those interested in trying to apply the name game rules to any name to make it rhyme, here are the lyrics to the song.  Good luck – well beyond my brain power…

Shirley! 
Shirley, Shirley Bo-ber-ley
Bo-na-na fanna Fo-fer-ley
Fee-fi-mo-mer-ley
Shirley!

Lincoln! 
Lincoln, Lincoln, bo-bin-coln
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fin-coln
Fee-fi-mo-min-coln
Lincoln!

Come on everybody
I say now let’s play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme 
Out of anybody’s name
The first letter of the name
I treat it like it wasn’t there
But a “B” or an “F” 
Or an “M” will appear

And then I say “Bo” add a “B” then I say the name
Then “Bo-na-na fanna” and “fo”
And then I say the name again with an “”f” very plain
Then “fee fi” and a “mo”
And then I say the name again with an “M” this time
And there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme

Arnold! 
Arnold, Arnold bo-bar-nold
Bo-na-na, fanna fo-far-nold
Fee-fi-m-mar-mold
Arnold!

But if the first two letters are ever the same
I drop them both, then say the name
Like Bob, Bob, drop the “B’s”, Bo-ob
Or Fred, Fred, drop the “F’s”, Fo-red
Or Mary, Mary, drop the “M’s”, Mo-ary
That’s the only rule that is contrary

Okay?
Now say Bo
Now Tony with a B
Then “Bo-na-na fanna” and “fo”
And then you say the name again with an “F” very plain
Then “fee fi” and a “mo”
And then you say the name again with an “M” this time
And there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme

Everybody do Tony
Tony, Tony, bo-bo-ney
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fo-ney
Fee-fi-mo-mo-ney
Tony!

Pretty good
Let’s do Billy!
Billy, Billy, bo-gil-ly
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fil-ly
Fee-fi-mo-mil-ly
Billy!

Very good, let’s do Marsha!
Marsha, Marsha, bo-bar-sha
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-far-sha
Fee-fi-mo-ar-sha
Marsha!

A little trick with Nick!
Nick, Nick, bo-bick, 
Bo-na-na fanna fo fick
Fee-fi-mo-mick
Nick!
The name game

the name game – Shirley ellis

So without further ado the playlists:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!