Songs Based On Historical Events

based on actual events!

Playbill_from_the_original_Broadway_production_of_HamiltonLooking for something else, I came across Songs Based On Historical Events.

“Many times, we listen to a song, not ever knowing it was based on an actual event in history. The list includes a very brief description of the historical event upon which the song is based, but you can find more by going to the song itself.”

If you have Apple Music, you can hear each of the whole tunes. Otherwise, you get 30 seconds per. So I’m going to link to the ones I could find. But the list is long, so I’ll do it piecemeal. AND I’ll add a little more context to the description where needed.

Also, the individual songs from the musical Hamilton pop up. A lot. I’m not going to list each of those. Listen to the whole thing here or here.

Don’t know much about…

Aberfan – Dulahan — “About the 1966 coal mine disaster in South Wales”. I didn’t know about this event.                                                                                        MY ADDITION: Abraham, Martin, and John –Dion; and also, with What The World Needs Now – Tom Clay. The song alludes to the assassinations of Lincoln (1865), MLK (1968), JFK (1963), and RFK (1968). The Clay version also uses actual 1968 audio clips of MLK’s last speech (April 3), RFK announcing MLK’s death (April 4), the actual RFK shooting (June 5), and Ted Kennedy’s eulogy to his brother (June 8).

Agent Orange – Kamalata — “Connects the use of Agent Orange to earlier U.S. war ‘activities'”. I knew a US serviceman who died from Agent Orange in the early 1980s, despite the government denials
A Great Day For Freedom  – Pink Floyd — “About the aftermath of the Berlin Wall collapse” in 1989.

A League of Notions – Al Stewart [with Lawrence Juber] — “About the League of Nations”, the predecessor of the United Nations after WWI. The US never joined.
Alice’ Restaurant [Massacree]- Arlo Guthrie –“An 18-minute long satirical account of 60s counterculture. Based on a real event” he experienced with his friend Rick Robbins in 1967. But a historical one? It HAS become a Thanksgiving tradition.
All And Everyone -PJ Harvey –“About the battle of Gallipoli.” At dawn on 25 April 1915, Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey, eventually knocking Turkey out of World War I.
All The Things She Said – Simple Minds — About Polish political prisoners who had been in Russia since the end of WWII

Dead musicians and other things

All Those Years Ago – George Harrison — “A tribute to John Lennon which references his 1980 assassination as well as events from his life”

America Pie – by Don McLean –“Music and social history for the roughly ten years after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959”
American Witch “- Rob Zombie — “About the Salem Witchcraft trials” between February 1692 and May 1693.
Amerigo – Patti Smith — “About Amerigo Vespucci’s 1497 voyage to America.” He’s the guy the Americas are named for.

Antarctica – Al Stewart — “About the exploits of Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton,” and their disputes in the first decade of the 20th century
Angel – Sarah McLachlan –” About the drug overdose of Smashing Pumpkins keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin” on July 12, 1996
Anthem For A Lost Cause – Manic Street Preachers — About the destitution caused by a 1980s mining strike” in Great Britain

A Pot In Which To Piss – Titus Andronicus — “About the Civil War”
April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Sublime — About the L.A. riots of 1992
Avalon Of The Heart – Van Morrison — “About the Arthur legend.” which may be based on a real person from history, possibly a Celtic warlord of the late 400s CE.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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