A Playlist For The Week: Songs-Named-After-Girls Edition

I wanted to post my new playlist yesterday, but Grooveshark was down. Sorry I’ve kept you waiting so long since the last one. I love putting these together, but they’re time consuming.

So here’s the story: Elvis Costello was on both the Colbert Report and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me during the past week (man, I am such a lefty elitist sometimes, aren’t I?) and that led me to listen to “Alison” about a million times. This in turn led me to listen to a lot of other Elvis Costello songs (just love that guy) which led me to rediscover another favorite of mine, also named after a girl. You’ll see it later

The whole experience got me wondering two things: first, where can I get myself a hat like the one Costello is wearing in that picture above? And second, given how many songs are named after girls, is it possible I could make a whole playlist of songs named after girls, with one for each letter of the alphabet?

The answer is yes. The results are available for your listening pleasure in the link above. The comments are below the fold.

Alison–Elvis Costello

Did you think I was going to start with anything else? Actually I almost did. I also like “Alison Road” by Gin Blossoms, but that’s not directly named after a girl. “Allison” by Stereo Fuse is good to, but, not good enough to top the man in the hat.

Brandy– The Looking Glass

My little brother introduced me to this song a number of years ago (he’s always been more hip to the hits of yesteryear than I am). I’m so glad he did. It might be my favorite one-hit-wonder ever.

By the way, a runner up for this position on the list was “Bethany” by Moyer. Check that one out if you have the time

Chelsea Dagger–The Fratellis

I hate the band name so much it makes me want to stab someone. With a Chelsea Dagger.

Coincidentally, the name of the album this song comes from is “Costello Music.”

Daphne–Porter

A little emo maybe. Just sit back, relax, and remind yourself that no one’s listening so it’s okay to admit to yourself that you enjoyed it a little.

Elizabeth–Frank Sinatra

I first heard this song in a department store, which seems fitting. It’s super late Sinatra, circa 1970. From his endlessly mopey concept album “Watertown.” The rest of the songs aren’t much, but for some reason this one has always appealed to me.

Florence–Crooked Still

I’m not usually much for Bluegrass, but of course, I love Florence ;-)

I’m also aware this song isn’t necessarily named after a girl named Florence, and in fact doesn’t reference “Florence” at all. Once you hear it you’ll understand why I had to include it, but for the record, the runner-up was ZZ Top’s “Francene.”

Ginger–Lover

Maybe two melancholy songs in a row with string instrument backing is a bit much, but this is also the best “Ginger” song I know.

Heather– Zac Brown Band

Sometimes the Zac Brown Band is basically Vertical Horizon plus a lot of country music cred and some Grammy recognition. This song exemplifies that, plus adds a digerido0.

Irene–Marcy Playground

Simple songs are sometimes the best. This is pop-folk at it’s best.

Jenny–The Mountain Goats

This was going to be Jessica, the great instrumental song by the Allman Brothers. But then I remembered that the Mountain Goats may be the best indie music I’ve ever heard in my life.

Kathy’s Song–Simon and Garfunkel

Not my favorite S&G song, but then again, even my least favorite of their material is well above average. This song is middle-of-the-road compared to the rest of their catalogue. Which is to say it is merely wonderful and not sublime.

Side note– this was the first time used a song whose title wasn’t just the name of a girl. But I didn’t have to, I just chose to because of how great this song is. And while there are a few other places on this playlist where I cheated a bit like that, there was only one letter where I didn’t have the option of using a “pure” title (just a girl’s name with no other words). Can you guess which? Probably. It’s one of the two obvious possibilities.

Leah–Bruce Springsteen

The best Springsteen song. Hands down.

Shut up, I don’t care what you think about “The River.” We can’t be friends anymore.

Sorry, this song makes me irrational and emotional.

Melanie– “Weird Al” Yankovic

Is it bad that a song about a stalker makes me yearn for my childhood?

Nancy–Troubled Hubble

A great band with a great band name. Their vocalist and their overall style always reminds me a bit of The Format. That both groups have disbanded is a real tragedy.

Olivia–Michael Doris

I was super glad I remembered this song before I had to include some melodramatically emo song where some girl is named “Ophelia” as part of a clever literary allusion.

Penelope–Jovanotti

Friends of mine will know that I really like Pinback, and will be surprised that I didn’t include their contribution of the same name. I just wanted a bit more variety; a lot of the songs in this list have that same sort of “soft background music” sound to them.

I wish I could translate this song in it’s entirity for you but I haven’t worked it all out myself yet. The verses name various historical figures and then says something biographical about them  (“Venus was cross-eyed and Beethoven was deaf”; “Nobel invented dynamite, and the award for peace for those who would never use it” ). The chorus is “meanwhile, Penelope is weaving her web, at rush hour.” It’s an odd song, when translated. But it’s a fun listen in Italian.

No Holly For Ms Quinn — Enya

I really wanted to use Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo.” But Dylan himself has said it’s a reference to Anthony Quinn, so it would appear it doesn’t fit the bill.

By the way, it may surprise you to learn this isn’t the letter for which I couldn’t find a “pure” title. The Sunstreak has a song called “Quinn” which is about a girl, but it’s lousy emo rock and I just couldn’t subject you to that.

Rhiannon–Fleetwood Mac

I love this song. It’s the song that got me into Fleetwood Mac, and I still think it’s their best.

Suzanna-The Wildbirds

This song treads a thin line between vocals with a cool, edgy quality and vocals that are just annoyingly hoarse. I go back and forth between loving it and getting kinda annoyed, but the time-integral of my feelings about it is definitely positive.

Taylor–Jack Johnson

One of the more substantial Jack Johnson songs

Ursula–Miles Davis

This ain’t your little mermaid Ursula. Although the two of them might be related.

Veronica–Elvis Costello

Once again, Gin Blossoms almost made the list with “Virginia.” Once again, they’re beaten out by the Little Hands of Concrete himself. This song isn’t as good as “Alison,” but I enjoy it a lot. It’s one of those songs that proves there’s such thing as artistic genius. There’s nothing complicated about this song. I could have written it, I’m sure. But I didn’t, and if I had, it wouldn’t have been anything special. It took Elvis Costello to make it work just right.

Wendy–Attic Lights

This song will grow on you, even if it seems a bit too needlessly “big” for you at first.

Runner up was “Wendy Clear” by Blink 182.

Not ever in the running was “Wendy” by the Beach Boys, because I can’t stand them

Xena, Warrior Princess– Joseph LoDuca, composer

Shut it. You try finding a song named after a girl that starts with “x.” It’s only 75 seconds long; put up with it. Or use the “skip” button, I don’t care. The point is, I technically found a song for every letter of the alphabet.

And yeah, unless you think her  full name is “Xena, Warrior Princess,” then I”m afraid this is the letter where I couldn’t find a song whose title was just a girl’s name by itself. If you know of one, do tell.

Yvette in English–Joni Mitchell

You don’t know how badly I wanted to use L.L. Cool J’s “Dear Yvette” here just to shake things up. But after “Xena, Warrior Princess” I felt like maybe shaking things up more was a bad idea.

See also the David Crosby version. I don’t think it’s as good, but it might be to your liking.

Zooey Deschanel–The Society Islands.

This one’s a strange one. An indie rock song named after a famous indie rocker? Who’s still alive?

It’s a gutsy way to hit on a girl, I gotta hand it to him. But she’s married to Ben Gibbard, so she’s obviously more attracted to indie cred than to looks. And lets face it, in an indie cred match between Ben Gibbard and, well, anyone, you can bet that “anyone” is going to lose. Still along the way he made a nice little song, and helped me finish out the playlist without resorting to another television theme.

So that’s our show, hope you enjoyed it. Enjoy the songs; I’ll try to make you wait less than a month for the next playlist.

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About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

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