Photo of Bexis

We are occasionally reminded by reader comments that all work and no play makes DDLaw a dull blog.  It’s been a long time since we did one of our “Friday Frivolity” posts, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t.

So what we’re doing today – if you choose to participate − is quizzing our readers about references in rock and roll songs to actual historical figures.  Here are the guidelines:

  • First, the references must be to real people, not characters from fiction.  Thus, references to “Tom Sawyer” would not count, but “Mark Twain” (or Samuel Clemens) could be (we’re not saying it is) a proper answer.
  • Second, we are not including euphemisms for real life people.  Actual names only.  Thus, in Don McLean’s “American Pie,” “in a coat he borrowed from James Dean” is a possibility, but “Jack Flash sat on a candlestick” as a reference to Mick Jagger would not be.
  • Third, we’re not including – because it would make things too easy – songs where the historical individual’s name is the song.  So no “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright” by Simon & Garfunkle, “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan, “James Dean” by the Eagles, or “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osbourne.
  • Fourth, we’re limiting ourselves to rock and roll.  No show tunes, since we could fill this quiz with nothing but lines from “Hamilton” (and no reference to “LBJ” from “Initials” in “Hair”), and no folk, rap (second ding on “Hamilton”), R&B, or c/w, which we just don’t know as well.
  • Fifth, the references must be to a reasonably famous person.  We’re not including references such as to “Funky Claude” from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” or “Yasgur’s farm” in CSNY’s “Woodstock,” even though Claude Nobs and Max Yasgur were a real people, because they are too obscure.
  • Finally, to avoid inadvertently taking sides in any religious debates, we’re avoiding references to messiahs or prophets; so no “Jesus Christ Superstar” or “Kung Fu Fighting” − also out due to other rules above.

What follows – in no particular order − are fifty excerpts from lyrics (they’re all available online, whether you cheat or not is your business) from rock songs that reference famous people by name.  Sometimes the lines have asterisks.  The asterisks are in place of lyrics that repeat the title of the song, which would be too much of a giveaway.

Give yourself one point each for the song title, and one point each for the name of the group, for a total of 100 points.  Feel free to tell us how you did, but only if you didn’t cheat.

Finally, you can check your answers, here.


#1        “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex. JFK blown away. What more do I have to say?”


#2        “I tell you one and one makes three. ***** Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi.”


#3        “I stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was a time for a change. Killed the czar and his ministers. Anastasia screamed in vain.”


#4        “The three nominees for the presidential candidate were Martin Van Buren, a former president and an abolitionist; James Buchanan, a moderate; Lewis Cass, a general and expansionist.”


#5        “From the young man in the twenty second row who sees you as something as more than sexual.  More than just our Marilyn Monroe.”


#6        “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming.  We’re finally on our own.”


#7        “So ‘Say Hey’ Willie, tell the Cobb, and Joe DiMaggio.  Don’t say it ain’t so. You know the time is now.”


#8        “I don’t know where to draw the line.  Yeah, I’m makin’ bets that you don’t get John Wayne before he dies.”


#9        “Back with my wife in Tennessee.  When one day she called to me, ‘Virgil, quick, come see, there goes Robert E. Lee!’”


#10      “***** he sits back, collects his thoughts for a moment.  Scratches his head, and does his best James Dean.”


#11      “Do you remember, your President Nixon?  Do you remember, the bills you have to pay?  Or even yesterday?”


#12      “You knew it did not cost the earth, but for what it’s worth.  You made me feel a millionaire and *****  Madame Onassis got nothing on you.”


#13      But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao.  You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.”


#14      “’Let them eat cake’, she says.  Just like Marie Antoinette.  A built-in remedy.  For Kruschev and Kennedy.”


#15      “Giant doin’ cartwheels, statue wearin’ high heels.  Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn.  Dinosaur Victrola list’nin’ to Buck Owens.”


#16      “Now I know how Joan of Arc felt as the flames rose to her roman nose and her Walkman started to melt.”


#17      “Commies, pinkos, reds at the windows. Foreign agitators, running elevators.  J. Edgar Hoover in a pink tutu.  Investigating anyone who thinks like you.”


#18      My my!  At ***** Napoleon did surrender.  Oh yeah! And I have met my destiny in quite a similar way.


#19      Well I heard Mister Young sing about her.  Well I heard ole Neil put her down.  Well, I hope Neil Young will remember.  A southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”


#20      “Semolina Pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower.  Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna, man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allen Poe.”


#21      Greta Garbo, and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean. On the cover of a magazine. Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean. Picture of a beauty queen. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, dance on air.  They had style, they had grace.  Rita Hayworth gave good face.  Lauren, Katherine, Lana too.  Bette Davis, we love you.  Ladies with an attitude.  Fellows that were in the mood.


#22      “It’s no use.  He sees her.  He starts to shake and cough.  Just like the old man in that book by Nabakov.”


#23      “Well, Shakespeare, he’s in the alley, with his pointed shoes and his bells, speaking to some French girl who says she knows me well.”


#24      “She’s a good girl, she’s crazy ‘bout Elvis.  Loves horses and her boyfriend too.”


#25      “That’s great, it starts with an earthquake.  Birds and snakes and aeroplanes.  And Lenny Bruce is not afraid.”


#26      “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?  Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”


#27      “That time will not allow us to forget.  For there’s Basie, Miller, Sachmo, and the king of all Sir Duke.  And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out, there’s no way the band can lose.”


#28      “I asked Bobby Dylan.  I asked the Beatles.  I asked Timothy Leary.  But he couldn’t help me either”


#29      “And go-cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe outside.”


#30      “Okay, so you’re Brad Pitt.  *****  So you got the looks but have you got the touch?”


#31      “The street sounds like a symphony.  We got John Coltrane and a love supreme.  Miles, and she’s got to be an angel.”


#32      “Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood with his memories in a trunk.  Passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jealous monk.”


#33      “Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen.  Doing the *****  I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen.  Doing the *****”


#34      “There’s no such thing as a winnable war.  It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore.  Mister Reagan says, ‘We will protect you.’  I don’t subscribe to this point of view.”


#35      “Einstein and Shakespeare sitting having a beer.  Einstein trying to figure out the number that adds up to this.  Shakespeare said, ‘Man it all starts with a kiss.’”


#36      “To stand within The Pleasure Dome decreed by Kubla Khan.  To taste anew the fruits of life.  The last immortal man.”


#37      “If Columbus never sailed the sea, if Longfellow never wrote a rhyme, if leaves have never grown upon a tree, and if the sands have never told the time.”


#38      “Six o’clock already?  I was just in the middle of a dream.  I was kissin’ Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream.”


#39      “Genghis Khan and his brother, Don could not keep on keepin’ on.  We’ll climb that bridge after it’s gone, after we’re way past it.”


#40      “Space may be the final frontier but it’s made in a Hollywood basement.  And Cobain can you hear the spheres singing songs off Station To Station?


41        “I was born in 49.  A cold war kid in the McCarthy times.  Stop ‘em at the 38th parallel.  Blast those yellow reds to hell!”


42        “You’re my gangster.  You’re like Al Capone.  You’re like Ceasar stepping onto the throne.  You’re Abe Lincoln, cuz you fight for what’s right.”


43        “And while [Lennon][Lenin] read a book on Marx.  The quartet practiced in the park.  And we sang dirges in the dark.”


44        “Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?  He got an ice pick that made his ears burn.”


45        “You a grand slammer, but you no Babe Ruth.  You gotta learn how to relate.  Or you’ll be swingin’ from the pearly gate.”


46        “Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me.  Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro, magnifico.”


47        “Walter and Eric said they’d put him on a network TV show.  The White House said, ‘Put the thing in the blue room.’  The Vatican said, ‘No, it belongs to Rome.’  And Jody said, it’s mine but you can have it for seventeen million.”


48        “Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi went to the park to check on the game.  But they was murdered by the other team, who went on to win 50-nil.”


49        Tell ‘em to make sure they got their James Brown pass.  And don’t be surprised if Ali is in the White House.  Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure.  Richard Pryor, Minister of Education.  Stevie Wonder, Secretary of Fine Arts.  And Miss Aretha Franklin, First Lady.”


50        “Roll over Beethoven that happened to be her favorite song.  But we never did much rollin’.  I didn’t stay there long.”