Over time, there have probably been more songs referring to news and newspapers than you might at first think. For instance, you doubtless remember STAYIN' ALIVE by The Bee Gees but you may not immediately recall that its lyric contained a reference to The New York Times!
There were also songs about magazines such as THE COVER OF THE ROLLING STONE by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show in '72 and CENTERFOLD by The J. Geils Band in '81; going even further back, The Four Lads charted with a
song in ‘59 called THE GIRL ON PAGE 44 that referred to the Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail order catalog.
However, I'm focusing in this blog on newspapers and the printed word. Rap artists such as Public Enemy
(in their song A LETTER TO THE NEW YORK POST) and hip-hop artists like T-Pain (in his composition SOUNDS BAD)
have made news references, but the following is a selective list of just a few of the many rock, pop and country songs
of yesteryear which fit the category.
Certain relevant lyric lines are included in italics.
COLD DARK WATERS (Don Owens) by Porter Wagoner
Pro: Chet Atkins (RCA: 1962) US #10 Country "In tomorrow's newspaper you'll read about me"
DAILY NEWS (Tom Paxton) by Tom Paxton/Pro: Paul Rothchild (Elektra: 1964) "How do I know? I read it in the Daily News" From Tom Paxton's second album containing his topically-inspired folk songs.
A DAY IN THE LIFE (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) by The Beatles
Pro: George Martin (Capitol: 1967) From their glorious "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.
"I read the news today, oh boy"
(In addition, LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS refers to "Newspaper taxis appear on the shore"
and THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO contains the line "The newspapers said")
DID YOU SEE HIS NAME? (Ray Davies) by The Kinks
Pro: Ray Davies (Reprise: 1972) from 'The Kink Kronikles" double-album.
"Did you see his name in the local paper"
FRONT PAGE NEWS (Bill Payne/Fran Payne) by Little Feat
Pro: Lowell George (Warner Bros: 1980)
"Front page right through to back page"
GET A JOB (Earl Beal/Raymond Edwards/William Horton/Richard Lewis) by The Silhouettes
Pro: Kae Williams (Ember: 1958) US #1 R&B, #1 Pop. A definitive doo-wop classic.
"After breakfast ev'ry day/She throws the want ads right my way"
GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT (Roy Brown) by Roy Brown w/Bob Ogden & His Orchestra
(DeLuxe: 1947) US #13 R&B in '48
"I heard the news There's good rockin' tonight"
This is the original of Roy Brown's classic song which was memorably covered
by Wynonie Harris in '48 and Elvis Presley in '54.
HEADLINE NEWS (Albert Hamilton/Richard Morris/Charles Hatcher) by Edwin Starr
Pro: Al Kent & Richard Morris (Ric-Tic: 1966) US #84 Pop, UK #39
HEADLINES (John Fogerty) by John Fogerty
Pro: John Fogerty (Warner Bros: 1986)
HEADLINES (Reggie Calloway/Vincent Calloway/Melvin Gentry/Belinda Lipscomb/Bobby Lovelace/Bill Simmons) by Midnight Star/Pro: Reggie Calloway & Midnight Star (Solar: 1986) US #3 R&B, #69 Pop, UK #16.
'Extra, extra, read all about it'
HEROES (Jennifer Kimball/Thomas Kimmel) by Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings (Columbia: 1986)
"That old newspaper headline"
JIMMIE BROWN, THE NEWSBOY (A.P. Carter) by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys
“I sell the morning paper sir”
Written by A.P. Carter, founder of The Carter Family
Song was a #5 country hit in ’59 by Mac Wiseman.
A LITTLE GOOD NEWS (Charlie Black/Rory Bourke/Tommy Rocco) by Anne Murray
Pro: Jim Ed Norman (Capitol: 1983) US #1 Country, #74 Pop.
"Not much to print today/Can't find nothin' bad to say"
IT'S GOOD NEWS WEEK (Jonathan King) by Hedgehoppers Anonymous
Pro: Jonathan King (Parrot: 1965) UK #5 in '65, US #48 Pop in '66.
NEWS OF THE WORLD (Bruce Foxton) by The Jam/Pro: Vic Smith & Chris Parry (Polydor: 1978) UK #27.
News Of The World is a British weekly paper.
NEWSPAPER BOY BLUES (Tiny Bradshaw/Jesse Kennedy) by Tiny Bradshaw/Vocal by Little Tiny Kennedy (King: 1952) https://youtu.be/C3I7LPDbq0Q
NOTHING HAS BEEN PROVED (Neil Tennant/Chris Lowe) by Dusty Springfield/Pro: Pet Shop Boys (UK Parlophone: 1989) UK #16. From the soundtrack of the film "Scandal" (Miramax: 1989) about the Profumo political scandal in Britain. "Mandy's in the papers 'cause she tried to go to Spain", referring to Mandy Rice-Davis. https://youtu.be/hFxUFXGMgRY
ODE TO BILLIE JOE (Bobbie Gentry) by Bobbie Gentry
Pro: Kelly Gordon & Bobby Paris (Capitol: 1967) US #1 Pop, #17 Country, #7 AC, UK #13.
"I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge"
OLD FRIENDS (Paul Simon) by Simon & Garfunkel
Pro: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel & Roy Halee (Columbia: 1968) From their album "Bookends".
"A newspaper blown through the grass"
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN (Chuck Berry) by Chuck Berry & His Combo
Pro: Leonard Chess (Chess: 1956) US #2 R&B, #29 Pop.
"Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news"
SUNDAY PAPERS (Joe Jackson) by Joe Jackson
Pro: David Kershenbaum (A&M: 1979) From Joe Jackson's debut chart album "Look Sharp!"
SUNDAY TIMES (Loudon Wainwright III) by Loudon Wainwright III
from the 1998 compilation "BBC Sessions" containing his earlier BBC performances.
TELL ME WHAT THE PAPERS SAY (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) by Elton John
Pro: Gus Dudgeon (Rocket: 1985)
"I spy headlines, newsprint tells lies"
TOP FORTY, NEWS, WEATHER AND SPORTS (John D. Loudermilk) by Mark Dinning (MGM: 1961) US #81 Pop https://youtu.be/DsfE8g1rAQw
(see note on Mark Dinning below*).
WANT ADS (Norman Johnson/Greg Perry/Barney Perkins) by The Honey Cone
Pro: Greg Perry (Hot Wax: 1971) US #1 R&B, #1 Pop. Darlene Love’s sister Edna Wright was lead singer of this girl group trio who recorded for Hot Wax, the label owned by ex-Motown songwriters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. https://youtu.be/r0V9K0ERzRo
WHAT'S HAPPENING BROTHER (James Nyx/Marvin Gaye) by Marvin Gaye (Tamla: 1971)
From Marvin's landmark album "What's Going On".
"Are things really gettin' better, like the newspaper said?"
YESTERDAY'S PAPERS (Mick Jagger/Keith Richard) by The Rolling Stones
Pro: Andrew Loog Oldham (London: 1967) From their LP "Between The Buttons"
*Mark Dinning was the brother of three sisters (Jean, Lou and Ginger) who formed the vocal trio
The Dinning Sisters; they clocked up best-selling records in the late 40's including BUTTONS AND BOWS
on Capitol in '48. Jean co-wrote TEEN ANGEL which was Mark Dinning's major hit single on MGM that topped
Billboard's Hot 100 in February 1960. The Dinning Sisters' accompanist and arranger was songwriter and pianist
Don Robertson who had his own Top 10 success on Capitol in '56 with his composition THE HAPPY WHISTLER.
Don married Lou and they recorded several singles together.
"If you enjoyed this week's edition of The Door To Yesterday,
there's more where that came from!"