In her song “My First Lover” Gillian Welch uses The Steve Miller Band’s song “Quicksilver Girl” to give her song context. Referencing another song is a shorthand way to set the song in a timeline. It’s like when a movie plays “Johnny B. Goode” to show that it is set in the ‘50s. Look how Welch uses “Quicksilver Girl” (the Steve Miller Band lyrics are bolded)
He was always talking trying to bring me down
But I was not waiting for a white wedding gown
From my first lover
I do not remember any goin' wrong
Just a record playin' that old Steve Miller song
Gillian uses the song to create context for the narrative. How would this song be different if she said she had been listening to “Midnight Train to Georgia”? What if they had been listening to Thriller? Of course, Welch is not the first artist to do this—Don Mclean, John Lennon, Waylon Jennings—the list goes on and on.
For today’s challenge, write a song that directly references another album/artist/song in the lyrics. It can be done in any way that you choose—maybe you want to reference a list of song titles like Dire Straits in the chorus for “Calling Elvis”. Or perhaps you want to use it as a description of a character like how American Aquarium does in “Savannah Almost Killed Me”.
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