Ayuh Music: Name Songs

This week, I found a song with my name in it. This was a big deal.

When I graduated college, I took a nickname. The previous four years had been so demanding and difficult, I wanted to feel as though I had started over as a new person. I went through our family records (we’re of Swiss descent, and no one keeps records like a Swiss alderman) and found a great-great-aunt who was named Maria Luisa but called Lili.

Lili. I liked that. It shared enough letters with my real name that I could pretend it was a real nickname. I also liked the sound of it, halfway between Lily and Leelee. I met a Swiss man not long after who was amazed I was born in the US because I had a name like mine. Since then, I’ve moved continents and met people from all over the world; unless they’re French or Swiss, they all find Lili a very unusual name. It fits me better than my “real” name, I think, although I’m not sure why. Names are funny like that; they have a lot of power.

So imagine my delight when I idly Googled for a song containing “Lili” and found (alongside all the Nazi war ditties) this:

AaRON (the letters stand for Artificial Animals Riding On Neverland) wrote “U Turn (Lili)” for a film called Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas (I’m Fine, Don’t Worry). I LOVE THIS SONG. Even though it’s really depressing and I’m pretty sure it’s about drug addiction. I love it. I love the strings and the guitar and the old-timey microphone that hot guy is singing into. I love the English lyrics that occasionally don’t quite work grammatically. Mostly I love the slow beat of the piano against the vocals, and the way the singer gets up and dances during the bridge, trying to drive a little wedge of hope into the sadness.

Of course, I should mention that I also have a song for my birth name. I was christened Allison, and my fifth-grade science teacher always used to greet me in the halls with the chorus from this:

I didn’t actually hear the Elvis Costello recording of this until I was about 16, and I don’t think of the real studio version when I think of this song. Just my science teacher, singing that one word.

What are your name songs? Are they about your real name, or a nickname? Let us know in the comments.

By Dr. Song

Dr Song is an archaeologist, in exile from the great state of Maine. Her life motto is "Hold fast."

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21 replies on “Ayuh Music: Name Songs”

I actually WAS named after the song “Amanda” by Boston.  My dad wanted to name me Grace and my mom wanted to name me Sarah.  They both hated the other person’s name, so my birth certificate went unfilled out for a little while at the hospital while they had a spat over it.  They came to a resolution by remembering “Hey, you know what’s a great song?”  And then they liked each other again, and I was named after a horrible, ultra-cheesy power ballad from the 80s.  Which my BF thought about singing to me at a karaoke bar on our second date.  He didn’t do it because he didn’t know if it would be taken as funny or super creepy.

Also, when I was being a brat, my father used to change the words to “I’m going to grab you by the thighs, and poke you in the eyes, Amanda.”  Mostly because the only way to get me to let my mom brush my hair as a toddler was to literally hold me down by the thighs.

I was always bummed there wasnt a song for my name (Valerie, this was pre winehouse), until the first day at one my favorite former jobs. A brand new coworker walked up to me and said, “I wrote a song about you. It’s about a threesome.” He ended up not being as creepy as he came off at first, and it is really a quite catchy song.

As a young girl I was both secretly delighted and publicly horrified that Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” used my full name. Of course they were referencing Brenda Lee (and my last name had an alternate spelling), but that didn’t stop everyone and their brother from making all the jokes. (and I had my fill of Brenda Lee jokes by the time I left elementary school).

There’s also Tupac’s haunting “Brenda’s Got a Baby”. I love that song but just can’t bring myself to listen to it very often.

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