When I was younger, I totally thought I was famous. Actually, I thought my name was famous. See, my dad was a classic-rock fanatic and insisted on turning up the oldies station whenever we were in the car together. From an early age, I learned to appreciate Motown, soul and, of course, The Beatles. While my friends were freaking out over Milli Vanilli, I was rocking out to Big Bopper.
I was especially taken with the song “Groovin'” by The Young Rascals. In addition to having an impressive harmonica solo, I was also stoked because it sounded like frontman Felix Cavaliere was singing about me… Leslie! There’s this part in the blissful ditty where he swoons, “Life could be ecstasy/You and me and Leslie.” Sure, I was a little confused why Cavaliere would invite a third party on a date with him and his girlfriend, but who was I to judge? I found out years later that he wasn’t really singing my name’s praises: The lyric actually goes, “Life could be ecstasy/You and me endlessly.” What a bummer.
Attention, songwriters: I’m still waiting to be the inspiration for a hit so feel free to throw my name into the musical mix and see what comes out. In case you need help, my name easily rhymes with “folie,” “tensely” and “Nestle.”
What are some songs that do feature real names in the title? I’m glad you asked. Let’s pretend we’re members of the American Name Society and check out songs from Amy Winehouse, Kaiser Chiefs, The Shins and Elvis Costello.
1.) Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”: What better way to celebrate Amy’s life than to shine the spotlight on all the amazing music she left behind, and “Valerie” is such a great example of her music’s timelessness. While the song was originally recorded by The Zutons, it wasn’t until Mark Ronson produced the cover with Amy that the tune really took off. The original is a great track, don’t get me wrong, but Amy’s soulful voice definitely upgrades the song from rockin’ toe-tapper to timeless classic.
2.) Kaiser Chief’s “Ruby”: Unlike U.K. peers Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs never translated well with American audiences. The band had a small-ish hit with “I Predict A Riot,” off their 2005 debut album Employment, but that was about it. I really thought things were going to take off for them after hearing “Ruby,” which has all the makings of a fantastic power-pop anthem: galloping guitars, lyrics about unrequited love and plenty of “da da da’s.” Unfortunately, chart-topping success was not meant to be. However, that doesn’t stop me from playing this song on a weekly basis.
3.) The Shins’ “Saint Simon”: I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this song initially spoke to me because it boasted my surname, but it still remains one of my all-time favorite tracks because I’m endlessly smitten by its dreaminess and fragility. Frontman James Mercer’s voice is delicate enough, but combine that with the dulcet sound of violins and xylophone and you’ve got a song that should be posted with a label that says, “Handle With Care.” Sometimes it’s the lightest songs that carry the most weight.
4.) Elvis Costello’s “Alison”: Though he’s always been mum about the song’s muse and surrounding details, Elvis must’ve been pret-ty gutted to write such an apologetic ode. How else do you explain the heartbreaking lyrics: “I’m not going to get too sentimental/Like those other sticky valentines/’Cause I don’t know if you’ve been loving somebody/I only know it isn’t mine.” His aim might be true, but his words are distressing. I wonder if we’ll ever know the real story behind one of the Greatest Songs Of All Time? Would the real Alison please stand up?