The Naming of Songs

by Michael Channing

You know that one Nazareth that's not "Love Hurts"? Yes you do; don't pretend. The one that goes, "Now you're messin' with a son of a bitch." You can hear it now, can't you? But tell me, quick. What's the name of that song?

Did you say "Son of a Bitch"? It has to be. There's more son-of-a-bitches in that song than there are na-na-na's in "Hey Jude." But you're wrong, and your ignorance angers me.

It's called "Hair of the Dog."

What?

Yes.

Really?

I'm not kidding. I hate that damn title. And not because it's a pun, which it totally is. You see, since the phrase "son of a bitch" appears more often than herpes warts on members of Spinal Tap, the band Nazareth decided to name their song "Heir of the Dog." Because the son of a dog would be its heir. Get it? But the record company thought that was way too clever and changed it to "Hair of the Dog" because words rhyme.

But that's not why I loathe that song title. I hate it because every time I hear somebody call it "Son of a Bitch" I have to correct them. I have to. And it makes me look like a douche.

I could just let them wallow in their stupidity, but then I could just give my cousin's infant that handgun he keeps reaching for on the kitchen table. It's what he wants, and it'll make him happy and requires less energy than storing the damn thing in a closet. But I can't. Let that kind of ignorance run rampant, and you just end up with brain-dead children.

So, yeah, if you're within hearing distance, and you say, "I love Nazareth's 'Son of a Bitch,' you can fully expect me to interject, "You mean 'Hair of the Dog.' That's the song's proper title, as registered with ASCAP." At which time you have every right to kick me out of your house for being a full-on obnoxious jerk. But I will leave you with knowledge.

The same goes for the first track off Who's Next. Don't call it "Teenage Wasteland." Why? Because that's not the goddamned name of the song. It's called "Baba O'Riley." Why is it called that? I don't have a goddamned clue. Let's ask the guy who wrote the song. Hey, Pete Townsend. What did you mean when you drunkenly scrawled "Baba O'Riley" onto a whiskey-and-tear-stained napkin at 4 a.m.? And while we're at it, how come you downloaded child porn, and yet I'm the one looking like an asshole right now?

I just want people to call songs by their correct titles. I want a world where an artist can create something and have people refer to that creation by its intended and true name. It's like when I introduce myself as "Michael," and you immediately start calling me "Mike," and I start calling you "Dick," the shortened form of your name.

If you're a song writer, you can call your song anything you want. But keep in mind that the people who listen to your music will be as stupid as you are pompous. They'll refer to "Sympathy for the Devil" as "Hope You Guess My Name." They'll completely forget the title "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," and just call it "The World Is a Vampire," or "That Song About a Rat in a Cage." Or they'll refer to Rupert Holmes' opus "Escape" as "That Fucking Piece of Shit Song That's Been Repeating in My Head for Four Days Now."

The only band for whom none of this applies is Rush. They can call their songs "Red Sector A" or "Distant Early Warning" or "Vital Signs" or "Analog Kid" despite the fact that none of those phrases appear anywhere in their respective songs, and we're not confused. Us Rush fans know the song titles because we can read. Seriously, they print those things right on the album covers.

And Rush know that we, as ambassadors of their music, will introduce their songs to others with the proper titles. And none of those other people will refer to the songs by the wrong names, because none of those people will listen.

More From Mr. Know-it-all


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Vestigial by Michael Channing