On a warm summer night as a young 20-something, I boldly told my friend Dave that any future wife of mine had better have a great song with her name in it, or I would not marry her. (Our porch conversations are well-known in Watseka lore for their driveway-puddle depth).
I will admit that the two of us (and an occasional guest or two) did our parts in keeping Midwest breweries in business that first summer of being 21 years old. That liquid inspiration fueled many of the self-perceived creative conversations.
On this particular occasion, we then spent the next hour rattling off songs we could think of with women’s names in the title. There are quite a few and the sheet I was writing on had at least 200, but considering I was probably seeing double, maybe there were only 100.
On that day, the song could be included even if it just contained a woman’s name. For the purposes of this Six Pack, let’s limit it to one-word names, the top six songs with women’s names as the title. (Sorry Darling Nikki, Eleanor Rigby and Come On, Eileen, you don’t qualify.)
6. “Valerie” by Steve Winwood — Maybe a surprise here, but what list doesn’t have a shocker? Another shocker: I read that the song is about drug addiction. Here I thought Steve liked a gal named Val.
5. “Angie” by The Rolling Stones — Did Mick Jagger write this about David Bowie’s wife, Angela, who he allegedly slept with? Keith Richards is quoted as saying Angie is a pseudonym for heroin. (Are you sensing a theme here?) Either way, I held up my end of the deal, although my wife Angi spells her name incorrectly.
4. “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes — Eric Clapton is thought to have written this song about George Harrison’s wife, with whom he had fallen in love. (Are any of these songs not about drugs or infidelity?) Regretfully, I have never met a woman named Layla, but thankfully, I have never ran across a Lola, either.
3. “Veronica” by Elvis Costello — Well, it’s definitely not about drugs or infidelity. Instead, it’s the happy subject of Alzheimer’s disease. Are there any good songs named for women that don’t have a dark or sad subject behind them? Co-written by Paul McCartney (he also plays bass on the track), it is Costello’s highest charting U.S. Billboard Top 40 single (No. 19) and it hit No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart in 1989.
2. “Beth” by KISS — OK, no mind-destroying diseases or adultery here, but probably a fair amount of drugs, if my knowledge of early KISS is correct. This time, spousal neglect is the topic, another side-splitter. Even with that, it is the band’s highest-charting Billboard single (No. 7) and one of only two KISS singles to go gold (the disco-infused “I was Made for Lovin’ You” is the other).
1. “Roxanne” by the Police — Let’s throw prostitution into our merry band of sunshine songs. (I thought this topic would make me happy ... Now I have to see a therapist, and probably will write a song about her.) “Roxanne” didn’t chart on its initial release in 1978, but a re-release in the Police’s English homeland spurred the song in the U.S. Now, it is on Rolling Stone Magazine and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s top 500.
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