10 songs about other artists

Here are ten songs written about other artists. The list below is not the final word, but represents the start of a conversation. The idea is to explore some of our favourite artists singing about other artists. In most cases the songs are celebratory or pay tribute, others simply observe or comment and one here is not very complimentary. So, having set the ball rolling, I’m passing it over to you folks. I’m sure that the collective knowledge and wisdom of the AUK readership can come up with many more great additions. Please post them in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I hope that you enjoy my selections and I look forward to hearing yours.

The Tom Russell Band  ‘Haley’s Comet’ Tom Russell focuses on how the last years of Bill Haley’s life were lived out as a penniless alcoholic.

Dave Alvin ‘Johnny Ace is Dead’ Alvin reflects on the tragic and bizarre circumstances of the death of the Tennessee R&B singer.

Vince Gill ‘Nothin’ Like A Guy Clark Song’ A moving and fitting tribute to the great songwriter.

Jonathan Richman ‘Velvet Underground’ I don’t care if you don’t think this belongs in an Americana list. It’s wonderful and that will do for me.

Lydia Loveless ‘Steve Earle’ So we come to the one that is quite clearly not a tribute. A powerful calling out of an Americana icon.

Townes Van Zandt ‘Blaze’s Blues’ The great man’s ode to his fellow songwriter and friend Blaze Foley.

Christy Moore ‘Rory is Gone’ Christy pays tribute to his fellow Irish legend Rory Gallagher.

The Jayhawks ‘Miss Williams’ Guitar’ Mark Olson’s dedication to girlfriend and later wife, Victoria Williams.

Ry Cooder ‘Johnny Cash’ Why aren’t there more songs about the Man in Black, or perhaps there are… let us know!

I See Hawks in L.A. ‘I Fell in Love With The Grateful Dead’ and why on earth wouldn’t you? I do so love this too.

About Clint West 319 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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You left out the very first two to pop into my head. The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” and Jason Isbell’s “To A Band That I Loved” (about Centro-Matic).


Those are great shouts Bill.

Paul Kerr

With regards to Isbell there’s also the wonderful DBT song, Danko/Manuel… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9UPxaF4TEw

Gary Walker

The Rockingbirds ‘Jonathan’ arguably their finest hour


Gillian & David, thinking ’bout Elvis : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FM8ui2ByUI

Dave Jarman

Great list , I’d add ‘ Wild as the wind’ , Steve Forberts’ tribute to Rick Danko of The Band

Philip Anderson

Diamonds and Dust by Joan Baez about Bob Dylan
Song to Woody by Bob Dylan about Woody Guthrie
Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder about Duke Ellington
Jackie Wilson Said by Van Morrison


Thanks everyone. All great suggestions. Keep ’em coming!


Nick Green added the following via email: Could I add ‘drunken angel’ by Lucinda Williams and ‘of missing persons’ by Jackson Browne – cheers and love the site.

Thanks Nick


John Lee Hooker For President – Ry Cooder

Keith Mackenzie

How about Kings Call by Phil Lynott? About Elvis if i remember correctly.