Music in general and rock ‘n’ roll in particular evolved hand in hand with the world of fashion.
Today’s hip-hop world is just as connected and in his zillion-selling OLD TOWN ROAD,
Lil Nas X even namechecks a ‘Cowboy hat from Gucci’.
For this blog, I’ve collected together a small group of the many vintage songs which either
mention clothing in their titles or make conspicuous references to it in their lyrics.
For instance, here’s a YouTube link to WHO DO YOU LOVE
written and performed by the indispensable rock singer/songwriter/guitarist
Bo Diddley back in 1956.
Check out the stunningly descriptive line
“I use a cobra-snake for a necktie’!
Another striking lyrical reference to an eye-catching outfit came in Elton John & Bernie Taupin’s
1974 smash BENNIE AND THE JETS in which Elton sings
‘She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit’.
Here’s the audio link:
Eons before rock ‘n’ roll, styles of clothing were omnipresent in popular song titles such as
SAM YOU MADE THE PANTS TOO LONG, PUT ON YOUR OLD GRAY BONNET and
BUTTON UP YOUR OVERCOAT.
If one composition conjured up sophistication, style and grace of a byone era, it was
Irving Berlin’s TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS (Irving Berlin)
introduced by Fred Astaire in RKO’s 1935 box-office hit “Top Hat”.
Fred first recorded the song that year on Brunswick
and here’s a link to the disc on which he’s accompanied by pianist
Johnny Green & His Orchestra.
Listen as young Mr. Astaire sings the song
and also tap dances before your very ears:
Following are further examples of songs highlighting the way folks dress…
BLACK DENIM TROUSERS AND MOTORCYCLE BOOTS
(Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)
by The Cheers w/Les Baxter’s Orchestra & Chorus
Song also recorded by Edith Piaf!
(Gene Vincent/Hal Levy)
by Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps
‘It’s the bop that’s done in a dungaree’.
(Harry Casey/Richard Finch)
by KC & The Sunshine Band
Pro: H.W. Casey & Richard Finch
by The Big Bopper
(Mercury: 1958) ‘Chantilly lace and a pretty face
and a pony tail hangin’ down’
DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION
by The Kinks
A Shel Talmy Production
(Reprise: 1966) ‘One week he’s in polka-dots,
the next week he is in stripes’
DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON
(Frederick Long/William Stevenson)
by Shorty Long
Pro: William Stevenson
Song later slightly retitled as
DEVIL WITH A BLUE DRESS ON
and recorded in a successful medley in ’66 with
GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY
by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.
by Tommy Tucker
Pro: Herb Abramson
‘Put on your red dress, baby’.
HOT PANTS (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants) Pt.1
by James Brown
Pro: James Brown
(David Dundas/Roger Greenaway)
by David Dundas
An Air Records Production
MAKE-UP AND FADED BLUE JEANS
by Merle Haggard
Pro: Jimmy Bowen
by Charlie Rich
Pro: Jerry Kennedy
OOGUM BOOGUM SONG
by Brenton Wood
(Double Shot: 1967)
‘When you wear your high heeled boots with your hip hugger suit’
PENNY LOAFERS AND BOBBY SOCKS
by Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones
(ABC Paramount: 1957)
PINK PEDAL PUSHERS
by Carl Perkins
Pro: Sam Phillips
PRETTY IN PINK
(The Psychedelic Furs)
by The Psychedelic Fur
Pro: Chris Kimsey
‘She hands you this coat/She gives you her clothes’.
SHOPPIN’ FOR CLOTHES
(Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Kent Harris)
by The Coasters
Pro: Leiber & Stoller
‘That’s a suit I’d like to own’.
(Tom Austin/Bob Gaudio/Bill Crandall/Bill Dalton)
by The Royal Teens
(Larry Lee/John Goin)
by The Everly Brothers
Pro: Dave Edmunds
by The Videos
‘You dig my clothes here boy’
VENUS IN BLUE JEANS
(Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield)
by Jimmy Clanton
WEAR MY RING AROUND YOUR NECK
(Bert Carroll/Russell Moody)
by Elvis Presley with The Jordanaires
(RCA Victor: 1958)
A WHITE SPORT COAT (And A Pink Carnation)
by Marty Robbins with Ray Conniff
To close out, here’s one of the great Monty Python songs…
THE LUMBERJACK SONG
(Michael Palin/Terry Jones/Fred Tomlinson)
by Monty Python
Pro: George Harrison
‘I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspendies and a bra’.
As in all my postings, the songs and recordings listed above are personal choices
and are in no way intended as a definitive collection of the genre.
Please send any comments or suggestions to
© Alan Warner, 2020.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission
from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used,
provided that full and clear credit is given to Alan Warner with appropriate
and specific direction to the original content.