Many of us find a peculiar, perverse satisfaction in making lists. It doesn’t have to be important stuff – in many ways listing trivia is a welcome diversion during those humdrum moments in a long journey, a particularly boring meeting or even a dull lunchbreak.
One of the more creative aspects to trivial list making is to pick a subject and see how many song lyrics you can recall off the top of your head that mention your arbitrarily chosen topic. In fact, the Guardian newspaper has a regular interactive feature on exactly this premise.
Why not try for yourself. Just pick a subject, as obscure as you like, and away you go. Take, oh, I don’t know, socks for instance.
More obvious songs about socks
At first glance, the subject of socks is a tricky one. There aren’t many songs I’m aware of that feature socks in the title (Arctic Monkey’s “Knee Socks” is about the only one I can think of), so you need to dig deeper into the lyric. For instance the first line of Liverpool indie/new wavers The Teardrop Explodes first hit single, Reward:
“Bless my cotton socks, I’m in the news”
As our subject crops up right at the start, it’s bound to be a little more memorable. It’s also one of those first lines that grabs your attention from the outset and therefore lends itself to this sort of mental gymnastics.
Adam and the Ants were pretty much contemporaries of The Teardrop Explodes. Their first album was titled “Dirk wears white sox”. While this didn’t actually feature as a song title, it’s allowed within the rules of the game since the lyrics of one track on the album (“Don’t be square, be there”) features
“Dirk wears white sox”
as a repeated vocal chant. “Dirk”, apparently, refers to screen legend Dirk Bogarde (who I don’t ever remember wearing white socks, but never mind).
Slightly more obscure sock references
Lady Sovereign is a rare rap artist on at least two counts – she’s female and she’s English. In one of her better-know raps, she asks:
“Well, oh gosh, I’m not posh may I wear odd socks”
Maybe she had socks like these from high class British sock manufacturer Corgi Hosiery in mind. After all, you can’t get much posher than a Royal Warrant!
Indie darlings, The Arctic Monkeys are serial offenders when it comes to mentioning socks in lyrics. We’ve already covered “Knee socks” but there’s also a line from the track “A Certain Romance” which mentions that perennial fashion faux pas:
“Tracky bottoms tucked in socks”
Really obscure sock references
Now the going gets a bit tougher, but mine a bit deeper and there are still references to be found. How many people would remember that men’s socks crop up in the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby” for instance?
“Father McKenzie, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there”
Completing our target of six sock songs is tricky and a little bending of the rules may be required. The soul standard made famous by Aretha Franklin, RESPECT, doesn’t actually mention socks in the context of footwear, but it does feature the repeated backing vocal:
Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me….
Admittedly, this is using SOCK in the sense of a written sound effect beloved of American comic graphic artists (as in Pow! Sock! Biff! etc.) but a little creativity is all part of the game.
There must be more sock references out there. See how many more you can dredge up from the depths of your own record collection.
About the author:
Paul Reilley has been mad about music since early teens. By day he’s a respectable food store manager, but by night he’s a rock and roll animal, both as a long time hospital DJ and playing bass in a successful pub rock covers band.