Musicians love to cross over into acting as well as score films, but more rare is the musician who straight-up writes a song about a film director. Why is this? We have no idea, except that it seems only really talented musicians dabble in this practice. Here are the 13 songs we came up with that shout-out filmmakers in the song title.
1. King Missile, “Martin Scorsese”
Led by spoken word artist/lead singer John S. Hall, King Missile’s “Martin Scorsese” boils millions of words of fanboy prose down to a direct, oft-repeated sentiment: “HE MAKES THE BEST FUCKING FILMS!”
2. Mogwai, “Stanley Kubrick”
Mogwai’s sound screams Kubrick: occasionally inaccessible instrumental post-rock from Glasgow that is constantly described by critics as either “monolithic” or “bleakly beautiful.” They are indie rock’s equivalent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with fewer murderous hominids.
3. Le Tigre, “What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes”
Leave it to feminist electroclash legends Le Tigre to reduce John Cassavetes entire career to four words: genius, misogynist, alcoholic, and messiah. It’d be interesting to see Cassavetes debate the merits of those four labels with Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fatemen, but he’s probably having too much fun getting shitfaced with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzarra in heaven to care.
4. Allo Darlin’, “Woody Allen”
While imagining the story of your life as a mediocre Woody Allen screenplay is one hell of an existential crisis, but that’s just what Allo Darlin’ lead singer/songwriter Elizabeth Morris did here. Bananas.
5. Magnetic Fields, “Busby Berkeley Dreams”
“Busby Berkeley Dreams” is the devastating, hauntingly beautiful highlight from the third disc of the Magnetic Field’s opus 69 Love Songs. Busby Berkeley was an iconic dance choreographer known for his lavish, broadway-esque film sequences, not for his crippling nostalgia tied to a failed relationship.
6. Quadron, “Buster Keaton”
It’s unclear why Buster Keaton’s name appears in the chorus of this song… and why Danish avant R&B actually exists.
7. Sufjan Stevens, “Sofia’s Song”
Stevens wrote “Sofia’s Song” which he imagined a world where “the banjo was my journal, and Sofia Coppola was my imaginary confidant.” One of his next muses would become John Wayne Gacy.
8. Kurt Vile, “Losing Momentum (for Jim Jarmusch)”
Kurt Vile’s wordless, meandering “Losing Momentum (for Jim Jarmusch)” seems particularly fitting for such an offbeat filmmaker.
9. Califone, “Bunuel”
Califone’s quietly strange ode to Luis Bunuel places the famous surrealist filmmaker in a setting that may or may not resemble his last days in Mexico City during the early ’80s. Bunuel spends his days manufacturing guns and ammunition, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes, while lead singer Tim Rutilli sings “every camera loves you better/ when you quit trying to play.”
10. Gorillaz, “Clint Eastwood”
Fun fact: at one point in Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Eastwood’s character “Blondie” refers to gold in his satchel as “sunshine in a bag,” a line featured prominently in the chorus for “Clint Eastwood.”
11. Aqueduct, “Frantic (Roman Polanski Version)”
Singer/songwriter David Terry uses his one-man power pop project Aqueduct to turn the plot hook of Roman Polanski’s late ’80s thriller into an emo-ish, neurotic break-up song.
12. David Bowie, “Andy Warhol”
Andy Warhol was known for his uber-avant garde cinema (Sleep has inspired no less than a 1.2 million shitty student films) as much as he was for his works of Pop Art, but this Bowie classic from Hunky Dory focuses on the ephemeral notion of “Andy Warhol” as a cultural icon.
13. Kris Kristofferson, “Sam’s Song (Ask Any Working Girl)”
If anyone was qualified to write a shit-kicking country song about legendary director, purveyor of beautiful bloodshed, and drunken bastard Sam Peckinpah, it was his Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid star Kris Kristofferson.