This past Sunday, on my radio show "Americana the Beautiful" (which you can listen to Sundays from 7-8 Central Time on Rhodes Radio), I did a themed show featuring "answer" songs. Answer songs are, as the name suggests, songs written in response to a previously recorded song by another artist. They were popular in blues and R&B music from the 1930's through the 1950's, and in country music in the 1950's and 60's. Now, you pretty much only hear them in rap and hip-hop music, but the answer song is still alive and well in that genre.
While preparing for my radio show, I discovered all kinds of song-connections of which I was previously unaware. My favorite new discovery was the connection between Roberta Flak's "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and Don McLean's "Empty Chairs." I had always wondered who was killing Roberta softly with what song... and if you know McLean's tune "Empty Chairs," I'm sure you've been softly annihilated by it yourself. (If you haven't, you may want to check and see if you still have a pulse.) I also discovered the answer song to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog", which is an absolutely hilarious tune by Memphis' own Rufus Thomas called "Bear Cat." Another of my favorite pairings, which wasn't a new discovery but which I wanted to share nonetheless, was one between Elvis Presley and Meatloaf. As it turns out, the answer song to Elvis' "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" is Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad." It shouldn't take much to guess which were the two out of three.
Now, I already knew of enough "answer songs" to put together a show's worth of material, but these new discoveries were really serendipitous. So, if any of you know of others, I would love to hear of them, as this is proving to be a new fascination of mine.