When Bands Pay Homage: 15 Subtle Nods to The Beatles

More than fifty years after they broke up, The Beatles are regarded as the most influential band in music history. In the present day, they are still acknowledged via song riffs, cover versions, and subtly hidden song lyrics.

An online forum recently discussed some of the best references to The Beatles in modern times, and here’s what they discovered.

“Oh George” – Foo Fighters

This 1995 release by the Foo Fighters earns an early vote on the thread. While it’s not been confirmed, Oh George is said to be a tribute to George Harrison. The opening guitar riff certainly has more than a passing resemblance to The Beatles ‘Something.’

“One of Those Days” – Weird Al Jankovic

Weird Al’s bizarre lyrics come so quickly that we can often miss some subtle gems. One poster reminds us that in one of the verses to “One of Those Days,” Al bemoans that he “left all my Beatles records out in the sun, got a Coke bottle stuck on my tongue.”

“All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle” – Dora Bryan

While the reference here isn’t exactly subtle, this curious song from 1963 has faded into history. As one person confirms, it’s a ‘novelty song,’ and that genre often has a limited shelf-life.

“Carolina In My Mind” – James Taylor

In this 1968 release, Taylor sings the lyric, “with a holy host of others standing round me.” It’s confirmed on this thread that he’s referring to The Beatles, who were in the recording session with him. He just made up the lyrics to suit the situation.

“Spanish Flea” – Herb Alpert

This was such a subtle reference that no other forum member commented on the suggestion. It’s clever because most of us will only know the instrumental version of Spanish Flea. However, the published lyrics include the line, “he’d heard the singers like Beatles.”

“All the Young Dudes” – Mott the Hoople

The song saved Mott the Hoople, just as they were considering whether to split. All the Young Dudes, written by David Bowie, references T Rex and includes the line, ‘my brother’s back home with his Beatles and his Stones.’

“Wonderwall” – Oasis

There are rumors attached to this song. George Harrison’s debut solo album was called “Wonderwall Music,” which provided the soundtrack for the 1968 film Wonderwall. Noel Gallagher acknowledged a link, while one forum poster claimed we could include “the entire Oasis discography.”

“Like a Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan

There is a debate over this inclusion. One commenter repeats a common claim that Bob Dylan was ‘inspired to write Like a Rolling Stone after hearing the Beatles’ “Dig It.”

Interestingly, Paul McCartney later said that this song had an influence on “Hey Jude.”

“Come Back Beatles (Lipstick)” – Horslips

The reference here isn’t exactly subtle, but the band will have gone under many radars. The poster simply states that ‘Horslips is an Irish rock band,’ but they could have justifiably said that Horslips is one of the most underrated live groups of all time.

“Happy Family” – King Crimson

In contrast to the previous post, this tribute is so subtle that it’s never been fully confirmed. One forum member repeats a common claim that “Happy Family is about the breakup of the Beatles,” and the lyrics support that suggestion.

“Spirit of ‘76” – The Alarm

Because the song references 1976, many think that the Alarm is referencing later bands when they sing, “A sign stands over the door, it says four lads who shook the world.” However, the Beatles famously “shook the world,” so there should be no doubt here.

“Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” – Elton John

Several posters correctly point out that this is a tribute to John Lennon. Released in 1982, it’s one of the most poignant references to his passing.

“Silver Heels” – Fleetwood Mac

As one of their earlier releases from 1974, “Silver Heels” goes under the radar of most music fans. As one poster points out, it carries the line, “If I could sing like Paul McCartney, get funky like Etta James.”

“All You Need is Love” – The Beatles

The Beatles referencing The Beatles? At the very end of “All You Need is Love,” the Band signs off with a chorus of their earlier release, “She Loves You.”

“The Clash” – 1977

One of my personal favorites rounds us off. As one forum member correctly points out, iconic punk band The Clash sang “no Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones” in “1977.” The irony is that many punks continued to listen to these artists and were really against the self-indulgent prog bands of the time.

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