Well-known songs that many people have never heard

In its entirety anyway. It’s hard to explain. I mean songs where a part of the song is well-known for whatever reason, sometimes commented on (very often in a jokey or derisive way) but where the song in its entirety is unknown except by big fans.

I recently found a couple by accident when I discovered a bunch of videos of the Australian group The Seekers. Even at their corniest, I’ve always liked the voice of their lead singer Judith Durham, but I’d forgotten about them. They’re best known (to us old farts anyway) for their hits “Georgy Girl,” “A World Of Our Own,” and “I’ll Never Find Another You” but I hadn’t heard much else. I was listening to their version of “Waltzing Matilda” and, while familiar with the existence of the song and the general chorus, I realized that I’d never actually heard the whole thing, let alone knew what it was about.

So, how many non-Australians have ever heard the song in its entirety?

“Waltzing Matilda” (I never knew how crushingly sad it was until I looked it up on Wikipedia, which includes the lyrics and glossary.)
I’ve heard the title/chorus of this song regularly referenced as a snaky joke, but I’d never heard the whole thing until just a few minutes ago. I know it’s been covered a lot but I don’t follow the artists who’ve covered it. I don’t care about the lyrics, but melodically it’s really quite a beautiful song. Or maybe I just really like her voice.

“Kumbaya”
I’m trying to think of other examples.

“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield - Just about everyone has heard the creepy musical motif from The Exorcist at one time or another, but I’ll bet most people have never heard the entire songpiece. Maybe there’s a good reason why most people have never heard it (for one, you had to have had the album), but still, it’s a good example of how a part of a song is familiar but the rest isn’t.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was at one time famous for being a DJ’s “bowel movement” song, and a lot of (older) people can still hum the “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” part, but the whole 17 minute version is rarely if ever played anymore.
More?

Just the other day, my girlfriend and I were surprised to learn that the theme from Portlandia is a snippet from an actual song. We found this out when it popped up on her Pandora.

I had been seeing references to the Leonard Cohen song “Suzanne” for about 20 years before I finally heard the song on satellite radio. I think his style of music just doesn’t lend itself to commercial radio.

I think classical music has a lot of these. Those of us who don’t listen as a general rule have heard snippets of musical pieces that in their entirety go on for hours (I think).

Obvious examples being the theme from the Lone Ranger taken from the William Tell Overture. Also Ride of the Valkyries, and at Christmas time part of The Nutcracker.

I think there are a lot of well-known songs of which only the first one or two verses are generally known. One category is patriotic songs and anthems – “The Star-Spangled Banner” would be an obvious one for Americans. Lots of Christmas carols are also like this. “Mr. Tambourine Man” is probably another example, due to the Byrds’ abbreviated version.

Back in the late 60s and early 70s, when popular music was advancing beyond the boundaries of top-40 radio, there were various “album versions” that were much longer than the better-known single versions. The OP mentioned one – “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. Steppenwolf’s “Monster” is another prime example; the album version takes up most of an album side.

I think pretty much every native English speaker is familiar with snippets of Stephen Foster’s songs, but I don’t think many are aware of the original minstrel lyrics of some. For example:

Oh! Susanna

or
Old Folks at Home

And if you think Waltzing Matilda is a sad song, you need to listen to “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” A sadder song you’ll never hear.

Until this very moment, I didn’t realize that these were two different songs. Which is stupid, I suppose, considering the name of the second one (the only one I’ve heard in it’s entirety) more or less tells you that there are two songs.

The opening acoustic part to “Stairway to Heaven” is very well known, but the song is so long that later parts aren’t as famous. The same applies to lots of Bob Dylan songs - when it starts, everyone knows the words to “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but as the song goes on, the poetry is not as familiar.
Also, “You Are My Sunshine” is a great example. Everyone knows

Most people know

And not many people know

. . . which really gives a very different tone to the last two lines:

This is what I was going to mention. I think a lot of people would never hear any classical music if they didn’t watch cartoons. Or the intro to *2001: A Space Odyssey, *which is from “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” a half-hour-long piece. And there are lots of opera arias that are famous for a measure or two, like “Largo al factotum” (“Figaro, Figaro, Figaro,” etc.) from The Barber of Seville, or the “March of the Toreadors” from Carmen.

Great examples everybody, thanks! I’ll be listening to the full versions of these as I can. I didn’t even think of classical music/cartoons as an example and that’s the most perfect example of all!:smack:

And I didn’t know there were two different Waltzing Matilda songs either. I haven’t had a chance to click on the “The Band Played…” link yet, but I will when I get back to my desktop.

The full-length album version of Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On"has an extra verse that was probably a bit too racy for many Top 40 stations in 1973.

Everybody’s familiar with the sports arena jock jam “Rock n’ Roll (Part 2)” by noted pedophile Gary Glitter. Not as many, however, know "Rock n’ Roll (Part 1)"which actually has lyrics.

Nearly everyone’s familiar with the 3-minute single version of Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick”, or at least the 30-second Hyundai commercial. I don’t think many people have heard the whole fucking thing.

Same goes for ELP’s Karn Evil 9; the full song is almost 30 minutes, but the version you hear on classic rock radio is just 5:30 or so.

I’m slow on the uptake more than I care to admit. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that the music in old cartoons was classical. :smack:

Many non-Spanish speakers don’t know that the song Three Caballeros from the 1940s Disney cartoon is actually based upon a huge Mexican mariachi classic by Jorge Negrete called Ay, Jalisco no te rajes

And as time passes more people will likely become unfamiliar with both songs as the Disney cartoon is rarely aired today due to some of its content not being politically correct by today’s standards and Jorge Negrete unfortunately died in his early 40s due to hepatitis.

Reference:

Disney version - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCQY6hd4WW4

Jose Negrete - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVUDEeIhUow

"Waltzing Matilda"was known to everyone during World War II; I think some thought it was the Australian National Anthem. Played to welcome Australian servicemen on a
TV show, etc. I used to know all the slang meanings. [Interesting example of writers, etc. using allusions that are missed by the following generations.]

Several TV themes are parts of entire songs. For example, the “Bah bah bah” of How I Met Your Mother is part of an actual song (done by the show’s creators).

La Marseillaise

Most of us are only familiar with the opening line… which was quoted by the Beatles at the start of “All You Need Is Love”

The theme from House is a 1998 hit (UK #10) for the band Massive Attack, called “Teardrop.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrIhQMr1Q10

The theme from 2 Broke Girls is a single from Swedish pop band Peter, Bjorn and John called “Second Chance.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxcHS27DuEo It didn’t make any charts but my friend Larry put it on his Top 100 of 2011 and he’s really cool lol

The theme from Community is called “At Least It Was Here” and is by The 88. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEGbjR1Y9Qo They happen to do a lot of work in TV and video games.

Speaking of Stephen Foster, “My Old Kentucky Home” is our state song (who’d of thought it!) and it’s played at lots of ballgames. It’s funny to watch people stand there and mumble until it the music swells and everyone bawls, WEEP NO MORE MY LADY! OH WEEP NO MORE TODAY as if their lives depended on it.

Also because it’s the state song, no one has heard more than a the first verse, which is upbeat:

It’s sad, depicting slavery as it does.

According to Wikipedia, it’s in the Bugs Bunny cartoon Southern Fried Rabbit.

(It is also public domain, for anyone concerned with copyrights.)

Likewise Rule Britannia, rarely heard stateside except for the first half of the chorus. (See: every establishing shot of London in an American comedy film ever.)