For every girl, a song. Part 1 of a series.

OK, there are lots of counter examples and even non-examples, but I love songs that have a girl’s or woman’s name for the title. There must be thousands. Here are a first dozen or so of my favorites — in roughly chronological order. Mainly, I hope to get you thinking about your favorite “Name” songs.

Once again, I’m revealing my age, but I’m going to start with “Diana” by Paul Anka. I was a kid in the 50s and loved the slightly Latin, syncopated feel of this song — so confident for a kid not much older than myself. “Carol” — a friendship tribute to Carole King from her colleague, Neil Sedaka — was just a warm up for the unbelievably inventive melodies and arrangements that poured forth from this guy over the next couple of decades. He wasn’t always easy to watch, but he was oh so easy to listen to.

In 1961, a song burst forth from the radio that changed my concept of music — “Sherry” by the Four Seasons. Actually, the shock wave of audio pleasure came from One Season in particular — Frankie Valli, the “Jersey Boy” with the distinctive falsetto and enough charisma to inspire a hit Broadway show decades later. The song was polished and raw at the same time. It managed to be both tuneful and stirring and had a great hook that built in intensity throughout the song, fed by so much adolescent pathos. I’m listening to it now and feel like a 7th grader all over again.

About the same time, there was another song — milder, for sure, but it also had an enduring effect on me. The song is “Sheila” by Tommy Roe. Yep, the guy who also brought us “Cinnamon” and “Dizzy” but — don’t hate him for his travesties. Give this song a listen and you’ll feel a long-gone summer breeze blow through your musical soul. OK, I know what you’re thinking: it seems somewhat reminiscent of Buddy Holly’s iconic “Peggy Sue” — another favorite — but each song has unique treasures to be discovered again and again.

Dion DeMucci joined the Belmonts in the 50s and was entirely responsible for any success that group had. I dug the guy. And “Ruby Baby” still makes me ache when I hear it — in a good way. So many of these songs named for a girl elicit an ache — the ache of unrequited love, of unreturned love, of withheld love, of love that could never be. Is there anything more intoxicating in the life of an adolescent? And do we ever shake the appeal of a sad song as we drift deeper into our granted century? Give or take a few years, that is.

There are songs in this class on the brighter side of the musical spectrum — “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, for example. Of course “Solitary Man” was my favorite Diamond ditty but I love the idea of a stadium-load of baseball fans swaying and singing about Sweet Caroline — every song gains strength and power with each singing. This one must be off the charts. Thank you, Boston Red Sox fans.

I’m going to conclude with a song that not only has a girl’s name for the title but the song itself calls attention to the name. And I will assert that this song has one of the most beautiful melodies not just in this group of songs but in pop music. I am talking about David Gates’ precious jewel, “Aubrey.” I have a friend whose parents named her after this song. If I had a daughter, she’d be named Aubrey, too. “A not so very ordinary girl or name . . .” This, in fact, is the underlying theme of this whole blog. When you sing about a girl — there’s nothing ordinary about her. Here’s to extraordinary women — and the songs written for them.

5 Responses to “For every girl, a song. Part 1 of a series.”

  1. basher132 Says:

    One you may not have heard of is “ode to joyce” on the latest half man half biscuit album, CSI Ambleside, basically bemoaning the fact that there are no songs about…..joyce! Its general enough for most non-british people to “get”, unlike most HMHB songs, which lampoon minor UK celebs and the like.

  2. Love that title — “Ode to Joyce” — and I’m eager to get more familiar with this HMHB group. Thanks, John, for the message . . . Cheers back at ya.


  3. I have to mention two of my faves: EC’s “Alison” and Sir Paul and the Fabs’ “Lovely Rita” (I would have mentioned “Lovely Linda,” but it’s more of a song fragment, innit?)

  4. As you might have noticed, I only got through the mid-70s with my originalo
    blog. And I missed a ton of songs. Stay tuned for a part two — and thanks for the song suggestions. Good to know people are paying attention.


  5. This post immediately brought “Julia” to mind. Of the seven or eight of us who bonded freshman orientation week, under Chris and Mike’s tutelage, no fewer than three of us gave our first child that name.

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