T is for Title songs for pop albums that have no title songs

So I had this bright idea of writing this trial balloon of a post elsewhere and post the completed item here. Ah, but I got no responses to the core question, though I DID think of another, VERY obvious example.

There is this song called Magnet and Steel by a guy named Walter Egan that was a Top 10 song in 1978. I liked it, as it had a certain stroll feeling. Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, the newish and commercially successful additions to Fleetwood Mac, sing on the chorus, BTW. I bought the album Not Shy, on vinyl – still have it, in fact – and realized that Magnet & Steel served as a quasi-title song for the album. The line in the chorus, “With you, I’m not shy,” is sung several times.

This got me to wondering: what other songs functionally serve as the title song, but are not the actual title of the album? That is, the title of the album appears in the lyric of the song? Note: only the first batch have links to the songs.

Brain Damage by Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon, possibly the most famous.
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana from Nevermind, the obvious choice I didn’t think of until much later.
Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin from A Few Small Repairs.
Washington Bullets by the Clash from Sandinista!
I’m Lucky by Joan Armatrading from Walk Under Ladders.
Alison by Elvis Costello from My Aim Is True.
You Learn by Alanis Morissette from Jagged Little Pill.
Down on the Corner by Creedence Clearwater Revival from Willy and the Poor Boys.
Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.
One I just discovered: Great Spirit by Robert Plant from the Fate of Nations album. Here are some of the lyrics:
I love my brother, I must share the seed
That falls through fortune at my feet
The Fate of Nations and of all their need
Lies trapped inside of these hearts of greed
That Day Is Done by Paul McCartney from Flowers in the Dirt:
“She Sprinkles Flowers In The Dirt
That’s When A Thrill Becomes A Hurt,
I Know I’ll Never See Her Face.
She Walks Away From My Resting Place.”
Close enough: Fine Line by Paul McCartney contains a line about “chaos and creation”, though the album is Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.

The naming of live albums falls into this category:
Karn Evil 9 by Emerson, Lake and Palmer from Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends.
I Don’t Want to Go Home by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes from Reach Up and Touch the Sky.

At least two Paul Simon greatest hits so titled (or subtitled):
*Graceland on Shining Like A National Guitar
*Train in the Distance from Negotiations and Love Songs

Similarly, You Can Dance is the opening phrase of the Madonna song Get Into the Groove and the title of a dance compilation album of her songs.

This is what I’d like to know: can you think of any others? The live album Steal Your Face by Grateful Dead is named from the song He’s Gone, but that song does not appear on the album, so that wouldn’t count.
Ken Jennings is wondering “what the greatest trio of back-to-back-to-back album tracks in pop history might be. Some other candidates that leaped to mind…”

“Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and “With or Without You” from U2′s The Joshua Tree
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With a Little Help from My Friends,” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper
“Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
“Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “My Hometown” from Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

29 thoughts on “T is for Title songs for pop albums that have no title songs”

  1. Great album trios: The Police on Synchronicity with Every Breath You Take, King of Pain and Wrapped Around Your Finger.

    Fantastic post, Roger. The title songs for albums with no title song thing is something I first noticed when I was on the radio in college. I’ve often thought it might make a fun mix CD to put some of these tracks together. Thanks for analyzing this hidden aspect of music and giving so many great examples.

    Another interesting phenomenon like this in pop music is when a single has the same name as the album it’s on, which is the same as the name of the band. Big Country by Big Country from the album Big Country. Living in a Box from the album Living in a Box by the band Living in a Box. I know there’s at least one more but I can’t think of it at the moment.


  2. You know so much about pop music! I am absolutely ignorant in the field of modern music. Thank for your comment. It is quite obvious that Americans don.’t know our European history. I know a little bit of the French history and about the Scandinavian history. I know a bit more of the Dutch and English history.
    Have a great week, Roger.
    Wil, ABCW Team


  3. I have noticed a few times of tracks that serve as the title song. And I totally forgot about “Sunny Came Home” on “A Few Small Repairs”, and that’s a favorite album of mine.


  4. I know most of the songs you’ve mentioned here, but not the background information. You and Lorne would have a blast together discussing music, especially vinyl – he has quite the collection!

    abcw team


  5. My knowledge is ‘0’ about these songs, I definitely like to listen and enjoy the rhythm and beat of the music. I like how you frame you posts with interesting words and theme. 🙂
    Hope you are having a great week.


  6. I have to join Sue in not knowing most of those songs… But one thing I will say…each week, my knowledge of new things is expanding..and I really like that, and thank you, Roger.


  7. I’d have to go with “Stairway to Heaven,” though all my high school buddies prided themselves on knowingly calling the album “ZOSO”.


  8. My co-worker Brian came up with a TON more suggestions:
    Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason came from the song “One Slip.”
    And their The Division Bell came from the song “High Hopes.”
    Jimmy Olsen’s Blues by the Spin Doctors gave them the album title Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
    Elvis Costello: Blood and Chocolate, from “Uncomplicated”
    Genesis: Selling England by the Pound, from “Dancing Out with the Moonlit Knight.”
    Talking Heads’ live album/movie Stop Making Sense, which takes its title from a line in the song “Girlfriend Is Better.”
    U2’s live album Under a Blood Red Sky, which takes its title from a line in “New Year’s Day.”
    The Ben Folds Five had an album called Whatever and Ever, Amen, which is a lyric from the song “The Battle of Who Could Care Less.”
    Dave Matthews Band had the album title Under the Table and Dreaming from a line in the song Ants Marching.
    Wilco’s A Ghost is Born is from the song “Theologians”
    Iron Maiden, “Piece of Mind” is spoken in the song “Still Life”.
    Judas Priest, “Sad Wings of Destiny” and “Sin After Sin” are spoken in the song “Genocide”.
    AC/DC, “Blow Up Your Video” is spoken in the song “That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll”.


  9. A couple more…
    Alanis Morrisette’s album Jagged Little Pill comes from a lyric in the song “You Learn”
    Mumford and Sons’ EP, Love Your Ground, has a ‘secret track’ stuck on to the end of the last track called “Sister”, with the lyric “If you want to be alive then learn to love your ground”.
    Kinks’ Everybody’s in Show-Biz, which is a lyric in the song “Celluloid Heroes”.


  10. “We Build This City”(On Rock ‘n’ Roll)”/Starship/Knee Deep in the Hoopla.
    Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats comes from a lyric in “Willie the Pimp”


  11. What a lot of information – well researched – I love most music but not always do I know who the artist is – I always have my radio on for background music and would be lost without it – Jane UK


  12. What a lot of information – well researched – I love most music but not always do I know who the artist is – I always have my radio on for background music and would be lost without it –


  13. Hi Roger: I lost the thread of whatever questions you were asking, but it was fun seeing lots of old names of songs and performers I thought I’d forgotten. Amazing the things the brain can retain without me knowing it.


  14. Great idea for a post!
    I was reading that, and thought “I am sure there are more of those that I know/on albums I listen to, but can I think of any? – no!”
    … then I read a couple of comments and there a few of them were (Pink Floyd, among others 🙂
    Odd thing is – also saw Brian,s comment about jagged little pill – I have that CD … and have the album on my iPad (which I am typing this on 🙂 but I had never noticed that line in that song – even though I like the song! LOL
    ADD mentioned song names that are album names that are band names … one I always thought was even weirder were the band called Flowers who put out a song called Icehouse (and I think the album had the same name) … the song was a hit (not sure the rest of the album was) and they then changed their name to Icehouse and became a really big thing 🙂
    … and now I am off to see if I can find somewhere online to listen to that Ben Folds Five song because that lyric and title has me intrigued … lol


  15. Funny how we are so close to the same age and yet so far apart in our music. Throughout my teen years, I generally only listened to the music that was playing on the oldies station, and today, now that the hits of our youth have become the “oldies” of today, I am finally discovering many of them for the first time.

    Fascinating insights.


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