I'll Take "Songs About People" for $200


Truth be told there really was no Maybellene, but Chuck made her sound like a real person when she started doing the things she used to do.  And there was also no Layla, but there clearly was Patty Harrison with the name changed to protect the innocent.  Was there a ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann or even a Caroline to say no to?  I don't know, but I do know that there was a real Prudence of Beatles fame.  And there really was an Elizabeth Reed.  So my question is, what are other songs that feature the name of a person in its lyrics are actually about real people?
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Plenty of biographical songs, like Dylan's "Hurricane" (Rubin "Hurricane" Carter) and Joan Baez' "Joe Hill" (labor organizer).  
Hey Jude - Julian Lennon
Maybe I'm Amazed - Linda McCartney
American Pie -  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper
Philadelphia Freedom - Billie Jean King
Candle in the Wind - Marilyn Monroe


If you are an outlaw or a killer, you are more likely to be immortalized in song.  Google songs about Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde and the like and you will see.  If you do something really horrific, a nursery rhyme will be written about you: "Lizzy Borden took and axe, gave her mother 40 whacks..."
A few more:

"Creeque Alley" -- The Mamas & The Papas (about themselves and others)

"Vincent" -- Don McLean (about Van Gogh)

"Bo Diddley" -- Bo Diddley (well, the lyrics refer to himself by his stage name repeatedly, although it may not be truly about himself)

"Mr. Bojangles" -- The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others (although the reference was indirect, being to someone who took his name from the real Mr. Bojangles)

Regards,
-- Al


Love the Bo Diddley.

Apparently Brian Wilson wrote Barbara Ann about Agent 99.  And there really was a girl from Ipanema.
Mr Bojangles was written and best performed by the amazing Jerry Jeff Walker not the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band just so we are correct.  And ummmm I can't believe I just corrected something Al wrote it must be upside down day!
Thanks, Jon.  You are correct of course regarding the authorship and first recording of the song.  The reason I mentioned the NGDB is that I believe their recording was the version that had the greatest commercial success, more so than Mr. Walker's as well as a great many other versions that have been released over the years.

Best regards,
-- Al
The Beatles' "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" refers to McCarney's uncle and to the American Admiral William "Bull" Halsey.

For a somewhat obscure reference, I like the Black Box Recorder song "Lord Lucan is Missing" (a member of the House of Lords that tried to kill his ex wife, murdered the nanny in the same attack and then went missing for the past 42 years--it was widely believed that his connection to people in high places and wealth gave him the means to evade capture).
How about "Bands about People"?

Lynyrd Skynyrd  - Leonard Skinner - High School gym teacher and basketball coach in Jacksonville, Florida. ;^)

Dead Kennedys - JFK and RFK.

Marilyn Manson - Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson

Tesla - Nikolai Tesla
Onhwy61, although it's completely unrelated, your mention that there really was a "Girl from Ipanema" somehow reminded me of the story of The Four Seasons' "Rag Doll."  Although I don't particularly care for the song, the story behind it involves a real person, and is kind of touching.

Best regards,
-- Al
 

Al,

If you google something like the "real girl from Ipanema" you will find pictures of what she now looks like in her 70's--still stunning.  Nothing wrong with being immortalized in song that way.  But, what if you were the inspiration behind those songs whose theme is: she is ugly but I love her anyway (e.g., "My Funny Valentine)?

Bands about people, interesting.  By the way which one's Pink?
Not Robbie Robertson, onhwy61. He’s a capitalist through and through, and doesn't believe in sharing the wealth ;-). Maybe Rick Danko---he found and rented BP, in which he, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson lived (Levon Helm was still in the Gulf, working on an oil rig). I believe Fanny in "The Weight" was a friend in Woodstock, but I don’t know about Carmen, Miss Moses, Anna-Lee, and Crazy Chester. The Devil? Oh, he’s real all right, and Robbie’s going to be meeting him fairly soon.
By the way which one's Pink?

Exactly!  Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. ;^)
Leave Robbie Robertson alone.

bdp24, seat yourself down and have a cigar.

Wait, may be you're right -- there are clearly horns coming out of his head.
Bands about people? -Jethro Tull!
Songs about people? John Henry was a steel drivin' man (was he?).

Larryi 2-3-17
But, what if you were the inspiration behind those songs whose theme is: she is ugly but I love her anyway (e.g., "My Funny Valentine)?
Larry, point taken, and yes it is certainly possible in some cases for immortalization in a song to be handled in a tasteless manner. In the case of "Rag Doll," however, I don’t see it that way. The negatives that were presented just pertain to the girl’s unfortunate circumstances, not to the girl herself. And for example, note the line "such a pretty face should be dressed in lace."

In any event, as I indicated I found the story behind the song (which I’ve seen stated in slightly different form than in the Wikipedia writeup, with the girl perhaps having been somewhat older) to be rather touching.

Best regards,
-- Al

Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust - Bob Dylan
Brian Wilson did not write Barbara Ann about Agent 99.  He didn't write it all--it was a guy named Fred Fassert (never heard of him, I had to look it up).
And I believe "Barbara Ann" had already been a hit for the vocal group The Regents, iirc. Most of the songs on the Party album were hits by other people. Doing Beatles songs, contemporaries of theirs, was not very cool of them!
As our foremost rock historian, bdp24 is of course correct about "Barbara Ann." As is Tostadosunidos. As described in the following reference, it was written by Fred Fassert and recorded by The Regents, to which he belonged, in 1958. Although it was not released until 1961, when it became a modest hit. The Beach Boys cover of the song was released four years later.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1449809/bio

As mentioned in the reference, the song was named after Fassert’s baby sister. Which brings to mind another song that was also recorded in 1958 and that I recall was also named after a baby sister, "Susie Darlin’" by Robin Luke (eventually to become Professor Robin Luke, Ph.D.). As I recall the story he named his composition thusly to eliminate the possibility that the girls he was pursuing at the time would suspect the song was named after a rival :-)

Regards,
-- Al


"You talk about people
That you don't know
You talk about people
Wherever you go

You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you've never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream

You just talk
you talk too much"

[Instrumental Interlude]

;)
Natalie Merchant’s "River" is about River Phoenix. His name is only in the song title however.
Barbara Ann Feldon is not "Barbara Ann"?  Her birth name was Barbara Ann Hall.  Are you also saying she wasn't the original inspiration for Annie Hall?  Next thing you'll say is that she didn't win the grand prize in 1957 "The $64,000 Question".

PRINT THE LEGEND!

Back to non-alternative facts, there really was a Stagolee (Stack O'Lee, Stagger Lee, etc.)
Bob Dylan's "Sara" firm Desire album.

Cassidy by the good ol grateful dead is about, in part at least, about cowboy Neal(Cassady) in a coffin cart, pulled by a catch-colt, and between these, you as well as me.

I know of one Maybelene I named one of my motorcycles after the Chuck Berry song just out of liking them so much. Im the only one who thought the name fit the bike. Oh well it worked for me and the bike.