Musicians often use their platform to get their own back. Here are five classic examples:
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
This famous song was said to be an attack on former lover Warren Beatty. More recently I have heard that it was not about a lover, but record producer David Geffen. I preferred the original story.
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
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.
This song was a broadside against Neil Young and his songs “Southern Man” and Alabama which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the American South:
In his 2012 autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, Young actuallly admitted:
‘Alabama’ richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record. I don’t like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue”. Indeed he would perform it a memorial to the three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a plane crash in 1977.
I am a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd and I do like the song but this video with rendition of Dixie and Confederate flags is bit much.
Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift says she has co-wrote “Bad Blood” about an undisclosed female musical artist who attempted to sabotage one of her concert tours by hiring people who worked for her. Billboard, Rolling Stone, Time, and The Washington Post all speculated that Katy Perry is the subject of the song, something which Swift denies. Well she would, wouldn’t she? The video certainly does seem to look like Perry.
How Do You Sleep? John Lennon
This famous song is from his 1971 album Imagine is clearly aimed at his former Beatles bandmate and songwriting partner, Paul McCartney, although Lennon would later claim that many of the accusations he had written could just as easily describe himself:
A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?
Real Niggaz – N.W.A
Prisoner like a hostage
Yo, you should of covered your muthafucking head like an ostrich
Deep in the dirt cause you’s a sucker
And you ass up high so I can kick the muthafucker
Don’t try to hang your best abroad
Cause my foot will be so far up you ass, you’re get hemorrhoids
Before you try to fuck wit Ren
I’ll put two in your ass and you’ll be shitting a size 10
This was a song attacking Ice Cube, who left the group in December 1989 over royalty disputes. Having written almost half of the lyrics on Straight Outta Compton Ice Cube felt he was not getting a fair share of the profits.