[This article originally posted to http://thewritejob.blogspot.com/2009/10/same-song-titles-different-songs.html
on October 10, 2009]
Over time, there have been well-known pop/rock songs with identical song titles but very different tunes and lyrics. I've created the following paragraph that has such song titles. If you know more than one version of each song (bolded), which version do you think of first?
Sherry and I talked on the phone today. She told me her best long jump the other day was her personal best. Within minutes of that jump, though, she had started to hurt like crazy and began crying from the pain. She then experienced an out-of-the-body sensation—viewing herself climbing a stairway to heaven. She wondered, "What's going on?" Fortunately, she recovered by the evening. During the conversation, she also mentioned her roommate Sara decided to act more like a lady and less of a tomboy, hoping to find somebody to love who might be more inclined to love her back.
"Sherry" by the Four Seasons (1963) is undergoing a revival from the current Broadway play Jersey Boys. The version by Steve Perry/Journey (1984) is actually named "Oh Sherrie", but on the radio, "Sherry" and "Sherrie" sound the same. Interestingly enough, it was difficult to find Steve's actual song's name on the web—both "Sherry" and "Sherrie" spellings appeared. The background for the song origin is at http://steveperryfanclub.homestead.com/DickClarkInterview.html.
The Pointer Sisters and Van Halen's "Jump" came out in 1984. Both songs received tremendous airplay for both radio and music videos. The Pointer Sisters' song name is "Jump (for My Love)"; however, I don't recall the entire title referenced on radio. In addition, the song as sung emphasized "jump", helping to reinforce just one word as the song title.
"Today" by the New Christy Minstrels (1960) and by the Jefferson Airplane (1966, from the Surrealistic Pillow album) sound totally different from each other yet appeal to the listener with similar sentiments of love. (Both versions are available to listen to at www.imeem.com; however, the New Christy Minstrels version requires registration—a reasonably painless process.)
Patsy Cline's "Crazy" has been well-known since 1961; maybe additionally helpful for its popularity was that Willie Nelson wrote it. Another version has been making the rounds recently, particularly in the youtube circuit—Gnarls Barkley (2006). Do a youtube search for "crazy gnarls barkley" and see video links. If you want to drive yourself more crazy, do the same search using patsy cline, then willie nelson.
"Crying" and "Cryin" sound so similar when spoken that it helps to clarify which song is which. Roy Orbison released "Crying" in 1961, and Steve Tyler/Aerosmith released "Cryin" in 1993. "Cryin" has received a recent revival on this season's American Idol. (Strangely enough, "Cryin" also appears as "Cryin'" and "Crying" in web searches.)
The Parade Magazine Personality Parade for Sunday, October 4, 2009 mentioned "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin (1971) and the O'Jays (1975)—two distinctly different songs. The title reminded me there was yet another song titled "Stairway to Heaven"; it doesn't sound like either Led Zeppelin's or O'Jays' version. Preceding the both of them, Neil Sedaka's bouncy version came out in 1960.
"What's Going On" seems to be a song in its own category of identical song/different song. "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye (1971) is well-known and has been around a long time. Another song has the words "what's going on" throughout, but is titled "What's Up", by the 4 Non Blondes (1993).
Four songs that name Sara—three of which are identical titles—are noteworthy: "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac (1975), "Sara" by Bob Dylan (1975), "Sara Smile" by Hall and Oates (1975), and "Sara" by the Jefferson Starship (1985). Of interest is that three of these songs came out in 1975, and none of four songs are spelled "Sarah".
Three different songs titled "Lady" have been hits—by Styx (1973, 1975), Kenny Rogers (1980), and Lionel Richie/Commodores (1981).
This year, "Somebody to Love" recently bubbled to the surface on TV. In the spring on American Idol, there was a mention of Queen (1976) and Jefferson Starship (1966) versions. In September, the TV show Glee broadcast the ensemble singing the Queen version.
Note: I have accompanied each song title with its release year in parentheses as spotted in google search summary results and/or web pages. Another source has been http://swisscharts.com.