Best "Ripped From The Headlines" Songs

I was looking through my Random Tunes file, and ran across “41 Shots” by Bruce Springsteen. It’s about/inspired by the Amadou Diallo shooting in NYC. I personally think it’s an interesting piece of Social Commentary and simultaneously a pretty cool tune. I think that’s pretty rare.

I figure Neil Young’s got two: “Ohio” with CSNY, about the Kent State shootings, and “Let’s Roll”, about the 9/11 attacks.

I’m told the Filter track “Hey Man, Nice Shot” is about the Bud Dwyer on-air suicide.

So, who else has done the Law & Order thing with music? What are your favourite current events inspired songs?


I Don’t Like Mondays

And, possibly, A Day in the Life, but its inspiration isn’t totally clearcut.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” - U2
“A Day in the Life” - The Beatles
“Family Snapshot” - Peter Gabriel

ETA: KarlGauss got it first on “A Day in the Life.”

Yes, perfect. Very good.

“The Way” by Fastball

“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? – REM

I figured with six posts already in the thread that someone had beaten me to this. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also Peter Gabriel’s Biko.

On Bob Dylan’s Desire album, there’s “Hurricane” about Hurricane Carter and "Joey about Joey Gallo.

Going back a bit further, Moonshine Kate’s Little Mary Phagan was composed by her father the same year that Leo Frank was lynched.

The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald comes to mind.

The thing about “I Don’t Like Mondays” and “Ohio” is that they are so immediate. “Ohio” was recorded and out on shelves mere days after the Kent State shootings. Geldof & The Boomtown Rats performed “Mondays” within a month of the shootings which inspired it.

“Biko” is more historical. Stephen Biko had been dead three years before Gabriel sang about his arrest (although, to be sure, the larger problems in South Africa persisted).

One of the times I saw Gordon in concert, he forgot the lyrics to this.

We got something along the lines of:

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms…
…uh, da, da, da, dum…
…dee, doo…
…yadda… North Wind they’d been feeling?

I had always thought (up until the mid-90s) that the song was about some old, historical event. It wasn’t until I read something in an old BBS message about it happening in 1975 that I realized my mistake.

Now that I think about it, The Clash’s White Man in Hammersmith Palais" probably qualifies.

And there is one about a battle in my home town you may have heard of, although it is much older: The Star Spangled something-or-other…

Bruce Springsteen’s “My City of Ruins” was actually written (but not recorded) prior to the headline, but was first introduced to the general public as being connected with 9/11.

Similarly, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” was rewritten after Princess Diana’s death (the original was about Marilyn Monroe) and became associated with her.

“Smoke on the Water” was inspired by an actual fire in Montreux, Switzerland.

The Who’s “Black Widow’s Eyes” is about the Beslan school massacre.

Sublime’s April 29, 1992

There’s also Randy Newman’s “Burn On,” about the time the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland. (This song is featured in the opening of Major League.)

Jethro Tull released “Crossfire” only a few months after the 1980 Iranian embassy seige that inspired it. The same album (“A”) also included “Fylingdale Flyer,” based on a false alarm at the RAF’s Fylingdales early warning installation the previous year.

“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” and “George Jackson” by Bob Dylan
“Deportee” by Woody Guthrie
From the 1920’s: “The Mystery of the Dunbar Child” by Rabbit Brown
And about a million other folk songs.

Kathleen Edwards - “Alicia Ross.”

Also on my list of “Saddest Songs I’ve Ever Heard.”