“Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner.
Tunic (Song for Karen) by Sonic Youth (sung by Kim Gordon).
There has to be thousands of these. I just looked through one of my playlists for examples. This represents only A through E:
Adios Hermanos – Paul Simon
The Ballad of Danny Bailey – Elton John
Brother Louie – Stories
Brown Eyed Handsome Man – Chuck Berry
Buddy Holly – Weezer
The Catman – Robert Gordon
Charlie Boy – The Lumineers
Charlie Brown – The Coasters
Clean Elvis – Dan Reader
Cool Papa Bell – Paul Simon
Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More – Steely Dan
Danny’s Song – Loggins and Messina
Doctor Wu – Steely Dan
Domino – Van Morrison
Empty Garden – Elton John
Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
Danny’s Song - Loggins and Messina
Powderfinger - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Tonight’s the Night - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
“Bruce Barry was a working man, he use to load that Econoline . . . and late at night when the people were gone he used pick my guitar.”
Yeah, I was thinking about Harper Valley PTA, where the narrator is talking about her mother.
What about a song that is an elegy or tribute to a person (or persons) who has died (like The Commodores’ “Night Shift”)?
Pretty much all of the album Born To Run
Either of these. I’m interested in seeing what types of things people sing about in regards to members of their own gender when romance and romantic hindrances are both removed from the picture. Family, friendships, stories, tributes, and rebukes are necessarily part of what remains.
Also “David Watts”, though it’s ambiguous if the admiration for the subject of the song is or isn’t romantic or sexual.
ETA: and “Dandy”
Also tons of Dylan songs, for instance:
John Wesley Harding
Blind Willie McTell
Rambling, Gambling Willie
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Frankie Lee And Judas Priest
ETA: a special case is Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. A song originally written and sung by a man about a woman, sung from the first person perspective in the Aretha version:
You might argue that “Lola” meets the test here. Lola is clearly not a romantic rival, and while “she” is the same sex as the singer, the singer doesn’t know that at first.
Not quite in line with the OP, but how about songs where the singer is a different gender than the song was apparently written for? I’m thinking of Anne Murray’s cover of Daydream Believer (“Cheer up, Sleepy Jean”) and Joan Baez’s The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (“Virgil Kaine is my name”). Those have always been a bit jarring.
Mack the Knife (Bobby Darin version)
Mean Mr. Mustard
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Jumping Jack Flash
Good Captain Clack
Broadway is full of them:
Mr. Buffalo Bill
Hey, There (sung to himself)
Jubilation T. Cornpone
- Family Snapshot
- Who’s the Blond Stranger
- He went to Paris
- Jolly Mon
There are loads. The Little Bombardier, Uncle Arthur, (The) Jean Genie…Ziggy Stardust… do gnomes count?
Sweet Gene Vincent by Ian Dury.
Who also sang about My Old Man, of course.
Definitely romantic. Kristofferson’s original version - the one I grew up hearing - has the line “Every night she kept me from the cold.” Certainly suggests something stronger than mere friendship.
As to the OP, I could make a whole list just from Kristofferson’s discography: “Casey’s Last Ride”, “Duvalier’s Dream”, “Darby’s Castle”, “The Pilgrim: Chapter 33”, “The Law Is For Protection Of The People”, arguably “Sugar Man”.
Thought of some more:
The Man In The Long Black Coat
Who Killed Davey Moore?
A Pawn In Their Game
Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)