Music is their business, so it was not surprising to hear the hosts of Sound Opinions dedicate an entire episode to the music business. Jim DeRogatisi and Greg Kot, who run the weekly program for National Public Radio, discussed on a recent show their favorite songs about the joys and pitfalls of the record industry.
Greg Kot picked “Nothing Is Good Enough” by Aimee Mann, “Mercury Poisoning” by Graham Parker, and “E.M.I” by the Sex Pistols as his favorite tunes about the music business, while co-host Jim DeRogatisi chose “Have a Cigar” by Pink Floyd, “So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star” by Patti Smith, and “Caught Can I Get a Witness” by Public Enemy. All six were worthy selections, but there were many more they could have mentioned.
Here are ten other popular songs written about the grind or delight of a career in music.
Death On Two Legs by Queen
Although it never received the acclaim of “Bohemian Rhapsody” this opening track from A Night at the Opera has Freddie Mercury taking his best shots at underhanded deal makers in the industry.
Geno the Manager by Hall and Oates
Unlike many songs about those involved in the music business, this one actually shows appreciation for the guy watching over the duo.
The Entertainer by Billy Joel
It is a fickle career to enter, as the Piano Man so clearly points out in this jaunty acoustic number from Streetlife Serenade.
Paint a Vulgar Picture by the Smiths
As an artist lies dying, Morrissey blasts the fact that the record company is preparing to capitalize on the tragedy by repackaging her material.
Goon Squad by Elvis Costello
The title group in this Armed Forces track are industry executives, who Costello warns “have come to look you over and they’re giving you the eye, they want you to come out to play but you better say goodbye.”
Free Man In Paris by Joni Mitchell
Reflecting on his youthful days in France, this fed up record exec dreams of getting out of the hit making machinery on this single from Court and Spark.
Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You by Sugar Loaf
Most aspiring artists were already well acquainted with this response when the band made it a Top Ten single in 1974.
Keep the Customer Satisfied by Simon and Garfunkel
Here the customers are those buying their albums, and the title serve as the mantra the duo keeps receiving from their record company.
Thank You Very Much by the Kaiser Chiefs
“It should be a thrill but it feels like a drill” Ricky Wilson sings in the chorus on this track from Retirement, an album with several other references to the pitfalls of success.
Daily Records by the Who
Pete Townshend on this delighftul track from Face Dances emphasizes that he just wants to keep making songs, as he grows increasingly wary of the business side of the music world.