Songs about singers and other songs has long been one of Rocks Off's favorite fields of study within the wide-ranging curriculum of popular music. Off the very tippy-top of our heads, ABC's "When Smokey Sings," the Replacements' "Alex Chilton" and the Pogues' "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" come to mind. Bob Dylan has even sung about his own songs ("Sara"), and you can practically put together a whole album of songs that mention T. Rex, such as Mott the Hoople/David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" and The Who's "You Better You Bet."
Country music in particular has always excelled at this, from Kitty Wells' point-by-point rebuttal of Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life" in "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels" to George Jones honoring "Wabash Cannonball" in "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes." Then there's the almost endless list of lyrical shout-outs to Hank, Conway, Lefty, Merle, Johnny, Willie, Waylon, David Allan Coe, George Strait and God knows who else.
However, most country songs stop short of actually cannibalizing (or "sampling," if you will) other country songs. Besides "Honky-Tonk Angels," which note for note is the exact same song as "Wild Side," which itself was once called "The Great Speckled BIrd," here are five others that didn't.
5. Brad Paisley, "Old Alabama": On the most recent entry on this list and No. 1 hit from earlier this year, Paisley illustrates the seductive properties of the still-great '80s and '90s band - better than Sinatra or Barry White, he swears - by recruiting the boys from Fort Payne to join him in the chorus and co-star in the video. Responsible for Rocks Off losing a decent chunk of this afternoon to "Dixieland Delight." Spent my dollar...
4. Jason Boland & the Stragglers, "Somewhere Down In Texas": On his 1999 debut Pearl Snaps, popular Texas Music troubador Boland closes this homesick love letter to his home state with a lonesome fiddle playing the melodies to "Faded Love," George Strait's "Amarillo by Morning" and "The Yellow Rose of Texas" one after the other. Strait himself released a song called "Somewhere Down In Texas" a few years later, but it's not a cover; incidentally, Boland also covers "Dixieland Delight."
3. Shooter Jennings, "Fourth of July": Lyrically, Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" dominates the son of Waylon's wide-eyed account of a cross-country RV trip with his ladyfriend, at least until the stereo "couldn't take no more of that rock and roll" and they turn to George Jones. Then the Possum himself turns up at the very end to croon a little bit of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" before wondering out loud how much he's getting paid.
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2. Kid Rock, "All Summer Long": Long a fan of Bocephus and Beam, the long-haired Detroit player cemented his crossover status as a true country star with this anthemic No. 1 celebration of "Sweet Home Alabama" (and girls who coerced him into "smoking funny things") from a couple of summers back. Rocks Off only wishes Warren Zevon had lived long enough to hear his "Werewolves of London" get thrown into the mix; we're sure he would have come up with a hell of a quote.
1. Rodney Crowell, "I Walk The Line (Revisited)": When Rodney Crowell's marriage to Roseanne Cash ended, luckily his friendship with his black-clad father-in-law did not. On Crowell's 2001 masterpiece The Houston Kid, Johnny Cash recreates "I Walk the Line" word for word as the chorus to Crowell's poignant portrait of his Jacinto City childhood. The work of a master - two, actually.