When I think about the music and lyrics of today, three obvious themes (or vices?) spring to mind: love, sex and alcohol. If you think back to the hits of the late 60s and early-to-mid 70s, another prevalent theme, drugs, were featured in the songs of that era. Not only a feature in songs, sadly, it proved responsible for us losing some of music’s greats.
Sometimes pounded as a means of escape, or enjoyed for the thrill of it or as a means of inspiration, wine and champagne are still favourites among lyricists, even today. I scoured my memory, and after adding a few of the suggestions from my previous post, compiled a list spanning five decades. These songs with boozy lyrics are clever, poetic, seductive, gritty, haunting and some are just downright weird… I’m talking to you, Eric Burdon.
It’s time to open a bottle of your favourite vino, sit back, scroll through my post and (with any luck) get your groove on. Hope you enjoy my newest collection. Cheers!
Blackberry Wine by Gordon Lightfoot
There’s a new moon risin’ and the wind sings its old song.
Pass it on over, it’s a sin to be sober too long.
I’m bent but not broken, all I need is my share of a bottle of that very rare
On the heels of Canada’s 150th birthday, my list just wouldn’t seem complete without a song written by Gordon Lightfoot, one of Canada’s greatest songwriters and a folk-rock legend.
Café (Caso Meso Nel Café) by Engelbert Humperdinck
Give me another glass of wine to heal this broken heart of mine
and help me ease my achin’ mind of all the sorrow.
For now, the wine’s the only way to help me pass the lonely day;
afraid of sleepless nights and broken dreams tomorrow.
A special thank you to Matt for suggesting a song by my Mom’s favourite singer. I think she has every album he ever made and I have a feeling Matt does too.
Champagne Supernova by Oasis
Some day you will find me
caught beneath the landslide,
in a champagne supernova,
a champagne supernova in the sky.
I have a good idea what Noel Gallagher was doing immediately prior to putting pen to paper; and that would explain the lyrics.
Days of Wine & Roses by Henry Mancini
The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play.
Through the meadow land toward a closing door,
a door marked “nevermore” that wasn’t there before.
The great Henry Mancini wrote the music for this song, and although the version above is instrumental, the remarkable Ella Fitzgerald sings a jazzed-up version here, complete with Johnny Mercer’s lyrics.
Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys
Eyes that look like heaven, lips like cherry wine;
that girl can sure enough make my little light shine.
Originally recorded by Kenny Rogers in 1970, this version by the Oak Ridge Boys (featuring the distinctive bass vocals of Richard Sterban) became a rare country-cross-over hit on the pop charts in 1981.
Fall in Love with Me by Iggy Pop
You look so good to me, here in this old saloon, way back in West Berlin.
A bottle of white wine, white wine and you.
A table made of wood, and how I wish you would fall in love with me.
Recorded in Berlin in 1977 with David Bowie on the organ, it took just 30 minutes for Iggy Pop to ‘free-associate’ the lyrics of Fall in Love With Me, seemingly for a laugh. This song marked the end of the creative partnership between Iggy Pop and David Bowie; not because of the goofy lyrics but because their creativeness had apparently run its course.
Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair.
The last one to know, the last one to show, I was the last one you thought you’d see there.
And I saw the surprise and the fear in his eyes when I took his glass of champagne.
And I toasted you, said, “honey, we may be through,
but you’ll never hear me complain.”
It took only eight weeks for this song to reach Number 1 on the Hot Country 100, where it stayed for four weeks, in 1990.
Going to California by Led Zeppelin
Spent my days with a woman unkind,
smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.
Made up my mind to make a new start,
going to California with an aching in my heart.
Somebody please tell me how the heck did parents in the 70s keep their teenage sons from moving to California? Or their Robert Plant-loving daughters from moving to London??
Hotel California by The Eagles
So I called up the Captain,
“Please bring me my wine”
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”
And still those voices are calling from far away;
wake you up in the middle of the night
just to hear them say,
Welcome to the Hotel California…
… and then later in the song:
Mirrors on the ceiling,
the pink champagne on ice;
and she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”
This song has been described as ‘a journey from innocence’, ‘the images that start running through your head when you think about Hollywood’ and ‘an interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles’. Not my favourite Eagles tune, it was arguably their most popular. I guess my 13-year-old brain couldn’t understand the meaning of ‘her mind was Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes bends’?? Thank you Bob for your suggestion. I’m fairly positive you had the 8-track, like most of us.
Killer Queen by Queen
She keeps her Moët et Chandon in a pretty cabinet.
‘Let them eat cake,’ she says, just like Marie Antoinette.
Yeah, yeah, I know. This song was in my previous post, but I love the song, love Freddie Mercury, and since I’m the one writing the post, I can do what I want. On YouTube, this video has almost 48,000,000 views so it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this song is a classic.
Lady Marmalade by LaBelle
He savored her cool, while she freshened up;
that boy drank all that magnolia wine.
On the black satin sheets where he started to freak…
Gitchi gitchi ya ya da da;
gitchi gitchi ya ya here;
mocca chocalata ya ya;
Creole Lady Marmalade.
Often imitated (Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink, L’il Kim), but never duplicated, this scandalous song from 1974 held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks. And much to my mother’s chagrin, Patti LaBelle taught an 11-year-old SGC her very first French words: ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?’
Lilac Wine by Nina Simone
Lilac wine is sweet and heady, like my love;
Lilac wine, I feel unsteady, like my love.
I love this song but I can’t decide whose version I like better: the amazing Nina Simone’s or Jeff Buckley’s version; which can only be described with one word: breathtaking. It was also covered by John Legend, John Mayer and gulp, Miley Cyrus.
Mississippi Queen by Mountain
Way down around Vicksburg, around Louisiana way
lived a Cajun lady, we called her Mississippi Queen.
You know she was a dancer,
she moved better on wine.
I’d say this rock classic hit the nail on the head: we all move better on wine.
Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry
Go on and close the curtains,
cause all we need is candle light.
You and me and a bottle of wine,
to hold you tonight.
When Eagle-Eye was born, and yes that’s his real name, his dad described his half-shut eyes as ‘Eagle-Eyes’ and decided that would be a great first name. His sister’s name is Neneh; proof that their father had weird taste in names. Regardless, great song.
Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon & War
But there I was.
I was taken to a place;
the hall of the mountain kings.
I stood high upon a mountain top,
naked to the world, in front of every kind of girl.
There was long ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones,
black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones.
Out of the middle, came a lady.
She whispered in my ear something crazy, she said, “spill the wine, take that pearl.”
According to Harold Brown, drummer and founding member of War, this song is believed to be about, or at least heavily influenced by drugs. (No, really?) And apparently, this song celebrates women: “All ladies are beautiful. You’ve got to look at them. God, I believe, put all of us here and made us all different so we could be like the flowers, you know. Like women. I look at them as beautiful flowers. Even when they get older, the flowers and so on, and that’s what it really boils down to, they can be skinny, big, fat, I’ve seen some fine voluptuous women. And then I’ve seen some that are skinny, and if you look at them, they could be beautiful, depending on personality and stuff.” You just can’t make this stuff up, folks.
That’s Amore by Dean Martin
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore.
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling and you’ll sing “Vita bella.”
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay like a gay tarantella.
I remember singing this song as a little girl. My parents used to play Dean Martin’s albums every Friday night, and as a result, I still know most of the words of most of his songs. This quirky, romantic song pokes a bit of fun at Italian stereotypes; something Dean – born Dino Crocetti – had every right to do!
The Way by Fastball
They drank up the wine and they got to talking,
they now had more important things to say.
And when the car broke down they started walking;
where were they going without ever knowing the way?
Don’t we all have more important things to say after drinking wine? And usually at a high volume?
Tiny Bubbles by Don Ho (and Connie Francis)
Tiny bubbles, in the wine.
Make me feel happy,
Ah, they make me feel fine.
This earthworm of a tune put Don Ho, a singer of Hawaiian, Chinese and Portuguese descent on the map. Tiny Bubbles hit #57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the Album Top 20 List for the latter part of 1966 and most of 1967.
When I’m 64 by The Beatles
When I get older losing my hair, many years from now;
will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
Paul McCartney wrote the music for this tune when he was about 15-years-old, and used to play it when The Beatles were still known as The Quarrymen. He put lyrics to it later in honour of his father’s 64th birthday. It was the first song recorded for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band.
Did I miss any??