Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." That's very true. But what if someone's name is mud? I don't want to name names, nor give a dog a bad name...wait, where am I going with this? Oh, yes: the Top Ten Girl Name Songs!
Now, you might be thinking: why names of women? Why didn't you first do a list of songs with names of men? I'll tell you...
...I don't know.
As always the songs are organized by how well each has done on the various charts. I'll say it again: If you don't see your favorite (and that's bound to happen, by the sheer number of great girl name songs,) be sure to leave a comment. Who knows, your submission could be the next entry!
Let's start at the bottom (but certainly not least) and work our way up to the #1 spot.
Michelle is the feminine form of Michel, which is French for Michael, which means, "Who is like God?"
"Michelle" is a given for this list. A classic Lennon and McCartney song, and supposedly the most popular Beatles song in France. Hmm, I wonder why? It didn't have much chart action, as it was never intended for release as a single. However, it did chart at #1...in New Zealand.
Michelle, ma belle,
These are words that go together well,
Michelle, ma belle,
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,
Tres bien ensemble
Lucille, like Michelle, is a French feminine name. It's derived from the ancient Roman praenomen Lucius, which is Latin for "light".
"Lucille" is a great example of the kind of driving, straight-rhythm (as opposed to Chuck Berry's emphasis on shuffle) rock and roll pioneered by Little Richard. Surprisingly, the biggest hit version was by the Everly Brothers, who released as a B-side. It charted at #21 (US) and #4 (UK) in 1960.
You don't do your daddy's will,
You don't do your daddy's will,
There ain't nothin' to you,
But I love you still
8. Hello Mary Lou
Mary Lou is a combination: Mary is from the Latin for "star of the sea", and Lou is a variant of Luana, from the Hawaiian, meaning "enjoyment"
Written by Gene Pitney (and apparently cribbed from the song "Merry, Merry Lou" by the Sparks,) "Hello Mary Lou" was a big hit for the late Ricky Nelson. It reached #9 (US) and #2 (UK) in 1961. Two words: More. Cowbell.
Hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Sweet Mary Lou, I'm so in love with you
I knew Mary Lou, we'd never part
So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Elvira is a Spanish name originally believed to be of Arabic origin, meaning "the white". It may also be Germanic or West Gothic origin, meaning "alert" or "trustworthy".
The Oak Ridge Boys, a gospel-turned-country quartet, had their biggest pop hit with this tune, which reached #5 (US) and #1 (US Country). It was written by Dallas Frazier, who also wrote such hits as "Alley Oop", "Mohair Sam", and "There Goes My Everything".
My heart's on fire for Elvira
Eyes that look like heaven
Lips like cherry wine
That girl can sure enough
Make my little light shine
6. Walk Away Renée
Wow, we have a lot of French names on this list. Renée is the French form of Renata, which is Latin for "reborn".
One of my personal favorites from when I was a youngling, as its Baroque flavor was unlike anything I'd heard before it. It was written by the Left Banke's then-16-year-old keyboardist Michael Brown about a lady he loved named Eunice. Just kidding. I don't think "Walk Away Eunice" has quite the same ring to it. It reached #5 in the US in 1966.
And when I see the sign that points one way
The lot we used to pass by every day
Just walk away Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame
Here's a name with quite a lineage. Maybellene is an alternative spelling of Maybelline, which is a variation of Mabel, which, in Medieval times, was the feminine form of Amabilis, which in Late Latin means "lovable".
"Maybellene", according to Rolling Stone magazine, is where rock and roll guitar began. I have to agree. This Chuck Berry tune reached #5 (US) and #1 (US R&B) in 1955. Berry was the first African-American solo artist to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard list with a rock and roll single. In other words, this is a landmark girl name song all the way around.
Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh, Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You just started back doing the things you used to do
4. Peggy Sue
Another song with two names in one. Peggy is of English origin, and is a nickname of Margaret, from the Greek for "pearl". Sue is a variant of Susan, from the Hebrew for "lily". Pearl and Lily are girl names in their own right, so we're packing them in right and left!
This Buddy Holly song was originally titled "Cindy Lou", but it was renamed, at the insistence of Crickets drummer Jerry Allison, after Jerry's girlfriend. Allison was responsible for the distinctive drum pattern, so I guess he had some clout when it came to the title...? "Peggy Sue" reached #3 (US) in 1957.
If you knew Peggy Sue
Then you’d know why I feel blue
Without Peggy, my Peggy Sue
Oh well, I love you gal
Yes, I love you Peggy Sue
3. Proud Mary
Sure, we have a bit of overlap here, especially since some might dock this (pun intended) for being about a steamboat. Sorry about that! As stated before, Mary comes from the Latin for "star of the sea".
Creedence Clearwater Revival's first Top 10 hit and first gold single, the John Fogerty-penned "Proud Mary" is one of those songs that sounds like it's been around forever. It's also been recorded by Ike and Tina Turner, whose version is a classic in its own right. CCR's version reached #2 (US) and #8 (UK), while Ike and Tina's reached #4 (US) and #5 (US R&B). And we're rollin'....
Left a good job in the city
Workin' for the man every night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin'
Worryin' 'bout the way things might have been
Big wheel keep on turnin'
Proud Mary keep on burnin'
2. Help Me, Rhonda
Rhonda is of Welsh origin, and its meaning is "good lance". However, it may also derive from the name of the River Rhondda in Wales, which means "noisy". I can see that being the case...
"Help Me, Rhonda" was the first Beach Boys song to feature Al Jardine on lead vocals. It had already been recorded once, as "Help Me, Ronda", but apparently, Brian Wilson wasn't satisfied with it. The single version, with the spelling that we're all familiar with, was #1 (US) and #27 (UK) in 1965.
Well, since she put me down
I've been out doing in my head
I come in late at night
And in the morning I just lay in bed
And, lo and behold, what have we here? The name of the place is...the number one spot. Most likely, you'll know it by name. The top song is...!
1. Georgia On My Mind
Yes, you read it right. Some say it's strictly about a state, as it is the official state song of Georgia. I respectfully disagree. Georgia is the feminine form of George, which comes from the Latin for "farmer" or "earth-worker".
"Georgia On My Mind" was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics). It's been recorded by just about every singer you can think of. But, in my opinion, this song is now officially owned by Ray Charles, nicknamed the Father of Soul. Is it jazz? Is it pop? Is it country? Yes, it is all of those and then some. Most classic songs tend to defy and transcend the confines of a single genre. It reached #1 (US) in 1960.
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
Do you agree with this list? Have any suggestions for honorable mentions? I can think of a few myself, but I want you to decide.
Check out all of the lists here at Rock The Jukebox: