As noted in a prior Owl, sometimes musicians want to give a little nod to a favorite person. It’s exceedingly common for that to result in tribute albums to an influential artist or band.
What isn’t seen as often is a tribute song to a non-musician… with one exception. Songs to relatives and friends are fairly common. Elvis Costello’s song to his grandmother “Veronica” was his biggest chart hit. Songs to girlfriends and even wives can even outlast the relationship (as demonstrated by Billy Joel with hits like “She’s Always A Woman” and “She’s Got A Way” for his first wife and “Uptown Girl” inspired in part by his second.)
But what isn’t seen very often are tribute songs to people who are neither contemporary musicians or close associates. Songs to people like Michael Caine.
Previously we covered the unusual choice by David Bowie to write a song about UHF television show host Uncle Floyd. Slip Away is a solid Bowie tune, and it can be reasonably argued that Bowie was odd enough to write a song to a television host without raising any eyebrows.
Maire Brennan wrote a piece for a tribute album to C.S. Lewis. While it’s easy to say that it’s not exactly pop, Brennan earned her reputation as a musician and singer for the band Clannad. If you’ve never heard of them, you don’t listen to celtic music (no harm in that, everyone’s got different tastes)… but when you consider that people who stepped up to be guests on their tracks include Bono of U2, Steve Perry of Journey, and Bruce Hornsby, they definitely have at least a small foot into popular music.
None of these are what I would consider to be the oddest choice, though. After all, who is a better subject of a pop song than… P.J. O’Rourke?
(Note: Big Country was a Scottish rock band, not a U.S. one. They just liked O’Rourke from his days as a reporter for Rolling Stone, and thought his “Republican Party Reptile” book was funny.)
Question of the Night: As a nod to Moya / Maire Brennan… what’s your favorite “international music” band or artist?