Songs That Reference Other Songs (Not Sampling)

What are some songs where the lyrics specifically mention another song?

Note that I’m not talking about sampling (like so many Hip Hop songs), nor am I talking about melodic or lyrical homages to other songs. I’m talking about songs where the lyrics actually mention (or not-entirely-obliquely reference) another song.


Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long,” which includes the lyric "singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long.

Lynryd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” which includes the lyric “I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around,” presumably a reference to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Southern Man.

A couple from Cowboy Junkies (who I just mentioned in another thread; guess it’s that kind of day):

There’s a jukebox in the corner, playing “Crazy” all night long…

  • “Where Were You Tonight?”

Old Lady Rose, lookin’ down her nose
Lonely Miss Lily, hiding in the hall
Lily’s praying for the trial to be over
Lady Rose’s just waiting for the axe to fall

  • “Cowboy Junkies Lament”
    I’m assuming this is a reference to Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary & the Jack of Hearts” where Rosemary is executed for murder.

And, a non-Cowboy Junkies one:

Play me something like
Here Comes the Sun

  • “Gimme Sympathy”, Metric

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” (Pogues version)

Van Morrison - Cleaning Windows

I heard Leadbelly and Blind Lemon
On the street where I was born
Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee,
Muddy Waters singin’ “I’m A Rolling Stone”

ETA: one more from the Pogues, “Fairytale Of New York”:

And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing “Galway Bay”

Too late to edit, but also one more from Van Morrison, “Jackie Wilson Said”:

Jackie Wilson said
It was Reet Petite
Kinda love you got
Knock me off my feet

The Beatles Glass Onion references Strawberry Fields, I Am The Walrus, Lady Madonna, and The Fool on The Hill

Spike Jones and his City Slickers, “Pal-Yat-Chee” in which a redneck goes to see Pagliacci.

And “All You Need Is Love” reprises “She Loves You” in the outro.

Harry Chapin, “Danceband on the Titanic”.

Hootie and the Blowfish, Only Wanna Be With You:

Underlined lines are a quote from Dylan’s Idiot Wind. The phrase “tangled up and blue” is a slight modification to Tangled up in Blue.

In one of the earliest music feuds I’m aware of ('78), David Allan Coe references several Jimmy Buffett songs in a song called “Jimmy Buffett”.

Warren Zevon - Play it All Night Long

The first thing I thought of was the guitar lick from the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” in Sugarloaf’s “Don’t Call Us - We’ll Call You,” but then I re-read the OP, so that doesn’t fit.

So I’ll go with one of Mrs. Wheelz’s current favorites, “Gimme Sympathy” by Metric. The title is itelf a mashup of two Rolling Stones titles, and the lyrics bring another British band into it:

Who would you rather be
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones

Come on baby play me something like
Here Comes The Sun

And I’ll add one of my favorites, Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream”:

Trees went by
Me and Del were singin’
Little Runaway
I was flyin’

Going to Graceland” by The Dead Milkmen references “Love Me Tender” and “Heartbreak Hotel” and the album Moody Blue.

Their song “Punk Rock Girl” references “California Dreamin’” (mis-attributed to The Beach Boys, because they’re too cool to know).

I believe the OP is looking for songs in which the lyrics specifically mention the title of another song, not just references to lyrics within other songs.

For example, Glass Onion references:
Lady Madonna
The Fool on the Hill, and
Fixing a Hole.

Strawberry Fields doesn’t count because the song title is “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The same applies to the references to, but not the mention of “I Am the Walrus.”

As for the OP, “Southern Man” is a Neil Young song, not a CSNY song.

In John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep” he says “the only thing you done was yesterday” in a not-too-subtle jab at McCartney.

All Summer Long doesn’t qualify, because it samples both Werewolves of London and Sweet Home Alabama.

And he also mentions singing the song in the lyrics. So yes, it samples, but it also lyrically mentions another song. So it qualifies.

Bruce Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman” mentions the band playing “Night of the Johnstown Flood”.

Dylan’s song “Sara” has the line “writing Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you.”

Veruca Salt’s first popular song was “Seether” which describes a peculiar woman. Later their song “Volcano Girls” contains the line “Seether’s Louise,” meaning band member Louise Post.

Which is also a cute reference to the Beatles’ ‘The Walrus Is Paul’.