This article is about some of the most important songs in rock and heavy metal history that contain a girl’s name on their title. All songs are handpicked by Myth of Rock’s Dimitris Zacharopoulos, who decided after a long thought, using the criteria of the songs’ artistic and commercial success. Yes, we know, a lot of tracks are missing, from Neil Sedaka’s “Oh! Carol” and Paul Anka’s “Diana” to Sonata Arctica’s “Tallulah” and Killswitch Engage’s “Rose of Sharyn”, but it is a fact that a twenty-song list can’t include everything. You may agree or disagree, it is true though that all these tracks have things to show and tell. So, sit back, read the story and … let the music do the talking!
- “Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles (“Revolver”, 1966)
As the pop/rock music theoretics can confirm, The Beatles performed and invented all the well-known contemporary music genres. Amongst other pop and rock styles, they were the first to mix pop/rock music with classical music. Listen to the “Revolver” album and especially to a song called “Eleanor Rigby”, which features a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin. It’s an intelligent composition by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, whose lyrics refer to loneliness, a song which showed the more experimental way that The Beatles took over the years. Legendary and historic.
- “Layla” – Derek and the Dominos (“Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, 1970)
One of rock’s most distinctive songs, “Layla” includes an archetypical guitar riff that everyone is aware of. Composed by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon (drums), it was released by their blues-rock supergroup, Derek and the Dominos, in their only studio album. Initially, it was recorded as a ballad, but soon after it was transformed into a rocker. “Layla” was inspired by a love story that originated in 7th-century Arabia and later formed the basis of “The Story of Layla and Majnun” by the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, a copy of which Ian Dallas had given to Clapton. The song was further inspired by Clapton's then unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and fellow musician George Harrison of the Beatles.
- “Angie” – The Rolling Stones” (“Goats Head Soup”, 1973)
Credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but almost completely written by Richards, “Angie” is a sad love song by The Rolling Stones, which belongs to rock’s most beautiful acoustic ballads. With a piano accompaniment played by Nicky Hopkins and strings arranged by Nicky Harrison, this track talks to your heart and lets you drown in a lake of tears. It was recorded in November/December 1972 and went straight to the top of the charts. Jagger’s performance is impressive and the whole band is playing like there’s no tomorrow, while the romantic story goes on (the title was inspired by Richards’ baby daughter).
- “Mary Long” – Deep Purple (“Who Do We Think We Are”, 1973)
This is the second song of Deep Purple’s seventh studio album. “Who Do We Think We Are” had a more bluesy rock sound and was another commercial success for the band, although it was evident that the band suffered communication and other problems – it was the last record with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover until 1984’s “Perfect Strangers”. “Mary Long” has a nice rhythm, a smart structure, Gillan’s incomparable vocals and Blackmore’s fantastic guitar phrases. And as far as the lyrics are concerned, Gillan says: "Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford were particularly high-profile figures at the time, with very waggy-waggy finger attitudes… It was about the standards of the older generation, the whole moral framework, intellectual vandalism – all of the things that exist throughout the generations… Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford became one person, fusing together to represent the hypocrisy that I saw at the time."
- “Caroline” – Status Quo (“Hello!”, 1973)
A Status Quo rocker (which in the beginning was a slow blues song) from the band’s sixth studio album, it is a classic rock song, written by band leader Francis Rossi and roadie/harmonica player Bob Young on a table napkin in the dining room of a hotel in Perranporth, Cornwall, in 1971. Status Quo’s boogie rock sound is showcased in this track perfectly: “Caroline” is a rock n’ roll tune that grabs you and throws you to the dance floor! Everyone knows the riff of this particular song; even Apollo 440’s song “Stop the Rock” (1999) was based on it!
- “Philomena” – Thin Lizzy (“Nightlife”, 1974)
When we are talking about ‘70s hard n’ heavy sound, the name of Thin Lizzy must be mentioned immediately, without a second thought. One of Thin Lizzy’s first gems was “Nightlife” – and the song “Philomena” is included in this, fourth studio album of the band. It is written about Lynott’s mother, Philomena, it features a strong Irish music influence (on the music and Lynott’s voice) and it is the first album to mark the incredible guitar sound of guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. The song has a melancholic tone and its atmosphere is dark. If you also consider its heavy sound, you will understand why it is a beloved Thin Lizzy track!
- “Lorelei” – Styx (“Equinox” album, 1975)
“Lorelei”, which was released as a single in 1976, is another specimen of pomp hard rock coming from the masters of this genre, Styx. It was a part of “Equinox”, which is distinguished as one of the band’s best albums, and Styx's second US Top 30 hit. Written by Dennis DeYoung and James Young, this song features the lyrical voice of DeYoung, the heavy guitars of James Young and the leading keys, which always had an apparent role in Styx’s music. Listen to “Lorelei” and let your senses explode!
- “Julia” – Pavlov’s Dog (“Pampered Menial”, 1975)
Many people know this touching rock ballad, but few of them are familiar with the band’s unbelievable music material – Pavlov’s Dog is a fine representative of ‘70s pomp/art hard rock. The first song of Pavlov’s Dog debut album was composed by David Surkamp and soon after its success, it was written in the golden history of rock music. The feeling of the song is superb, and the musicians’ performance is legendary; of course, what attracts the attention of the listener is mainly Surkamp’s voice – yes, a man is singing! Let “Julia” feel your heart with light and discover the amazing world of Pavlov’s Dog! You will be grateful!
- “Whola Lotta Rosie” – AC/DC (“Let There Be Rock”, 1977)
In 1977 AC/DC released one of their mythical albums – “Let There Be Rock” is a hard rock milestone and here you will find included the song “Whola Lotta Rosie”, a thunderous, dirty rocker about Rosie. She was an obese Tasmanian woman, with whom Bon Scott had a one-night stand at the Freeway Gardens Motel in North Melbourne. Rosie was one of the most talented lovers Scott had experienced, a sex devil, and the rest is pure hard rock history! “Whola Lotta Rosie” is a fans’ favorite and is based on a tremendous guitar riff, which was featured on an earlier recording with different lyrics, titled "Dirty Eyes". Hard rock with big balls dedicated to “the fat one”!
- “My Sharona” – The Knack (“Get The Knack”, 1979)
A song which everybody knows, even if he/she isn’t a rock n’ roll fan, a top hit that reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for 6 weeks, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing one million copies sold, and was Capitol Records' fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964. The debut single of The Knack, “My Sharona” is a power pop/new wave/rock n’ roll twister, a head-knocker, written by Berton Averre (guitar) and Doug Fieger (vocals, guitar) – Fieger was the lyrics writer, inspired by a girl he fancied (Sharona Alperin), and with whom he later had a four-year relationship.
- "Charlotte the Harlot" – Iron Maiden (“Iron Maiden”, 1980)
A fast-paced track with a clever structure, penned by Dave Murray, is the first part of the “Charlotte Saga”, which stars a fictional (or not?) sophisticated prostitute. It is included in the first Iron Maiden album and it is an NWOBHM anthem. The catchy vocal lines, originally sung by Paul DiAnno, the leading bass guitar of Steve Harris and the unique guitar work are the ingredients of this killer song. In their debut, Iron Maiden continued the heavy metal tradition of the ‘70s and created the heavy metal sound of the ‘80s. “Charlotte the Harlot” was later re-recorded with Bruce Dickinson on the microphone and was the B-side to the “The Evil that Men Do” single (1988).
- “Rosanna” – Toto (“Toto IV”, 1982)
A huge hit, one of the best Toto tracks, “Rosanna” is a David Paich composition which – together with other songs - helped the formation of AOR as a rock music style. The song won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and is based on numerous girls Paich had known. It’s a typical Toto hit, since it incorporates rock, pop, jazz and prog elements. If you want to learn AOR in deep, you have to listen to this and other Toto songs thoroughly.
- “Melissa” – Mercyful Fate (“Melissa”, 1983)
A historic, strongly influential album, “Melissa” was the debut disc of Denmark’s Mercyful Fate, and also the first record Roadrunner Records ever released. “Melissa” ends gloriously with this dark, epic and hymnic song of the same title, it refers to a witch and is the charismatic outro of this pure metal masterpiece. Listen to the verses, the bridges and the refrain, just enjoy King Diamond’s falsetto and the guitar holocaust of Shermann and Denner! A satanic ballad that will mesmerize you, an evil love (?!) song that will haunt you, “Melissa” is an anthem of mystery, a heavy metal spell. If you want a recommendation and a second opinion, you should ask Metallica about this song and album!
- “Amanda” – Boston (“Third Stage” album, 1986)
“Third Stage”, the third album of AOR pioneers Boston, released six years after it was recorded, was another popular release for the band. “Amanda”, Boston's highest charting single in the United States and Canada, is a classic rock power ballad, composed by Tom Scholz, the band’s leader, a great virtuoso guitarist. The song has some unforgettable melodies, sung wonderfully by Brad Delp and guitar parts ideally performed by Scholz. A tape of the song leaked out of the studio in late 1984.
- “Kayleigh” – Marillion (“Misplaced Childhood”, 1985)
Neo-progressive rock at its best! One of rock’s most beautiful songs, “Kayleigh” is a shivering, touching love song (“torch song”) by Marillion, the inheritors of the English progressive class of the 70s. Marillion's singer, Fish, wrote this about his former girlfriend Kay, whose middle name was Lee, and their painful breakup. "Kayleigh" entered the UK Singles Chart on 18 May 1985 and climbed to the number-two position. That’s how a sentimental song should sound. Thank God for this musical treasure!
- “Carrie” – Europe (“The Final Countdown”, 1987)
There are some power ballads that send shivers down your spine. Power ballads that touch you and make you want to cry. “Carrie” is one of those special songs, a love song that strikes your heart and leaves you bleeding. It was the third single released internationally from the album “The Final Countdown”, and became one of Europe’s biggest hits. The Swedish melodic hard rock/metal band offers us a beautiful anthem of love, based on its trademarks – Tempest’s lyrical voice, the extraordinary guitar work of John Norum and Michaeli’s hymnal keyboards. Written by Tempest and Michaeli in 1985, its early version, consisted of just keyboards and vocals, was played on a tour in Sweden the same year.
- “My Michelle” – Guns ‘N’ Roses (“Appetite for Destruction”, 1987)
“Appetite for Destruction” doesn’t need any introduction. Standing among the best heavy metal albums of the second half of the ‘80s, it is a collection killer songs – one of them is “My Michelle”, which contains impressive vocal melodies, thrilling guitar riffs and its rhythm gets you shaking and banging your head. It was written about Michelle Young, who was a friend of the band. When traveling to a gig with Guns ‘N’ Roses, Elton John's “Your Song” came on the radio, and Young remarked how she always wanted a song written about her. It was covered by AFM and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
- “Edie (Ciao Baby)” – The Cult (“Sonic Temple”, 1989)
Two years after the electric thunder of the “Electric” album, The Cult went on with their hard rock sound, releasing “Sonic Temple”. “Edie (Ciao Baby)” is a mid-tempo song with orchestral arrangements, composed by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, and it’s referring to Edie Sedgwick, one of Andy Warhol's actresses, who formed part of the artist’s Factory scene in New York in the '60s. Her final movie role was as Susan Superstar in the “Ciao! Manhattan” movie. A big hit by a distinguished band.
- “Alison Hell” – Annihilator (“Alice in Hell”, 1989)
That’s a true metal classic, by the Canadian speed/thrash metal masters. Many generations have got into metal with this song and the “Alice in Hell” album. A speed metal gem, which was composed by Jeff Waters and Annihilator’s original singer, John Bates, it is a real lesson for everyone who wants to learn how heavy metal sounds. The unbelievably technical guitars of Waters and the unearthly high-pitched vocals of Randy Rampage are the horns of a speed metal monster, which is still crawling against us. The song’s lyrics are about a girl who thinks she is being terrorized by an evil spirit. She asks her parents for help, but when they ignore her pleas, she slowly goes insane. It is based on a true story about a girl in Montreal who was in the news in the early '80s.
- “Lucretia” – Megadeth (“Rust in Peace”, 1990)
Without a doubt, “Rust in Peace” is a technical speed/thrash metal monument and one of its best moments is the track titled “Lucretia”. Composed by Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson, the song name derives from a semi-legendary figure in the history of the Roman Republic. It represents ideally the sound of Megadeth and includes all the trademarks of the Americans. A very technical song, “Lucretia” has a solid rhythm, upon which the guitars stand blazing and firing! Especially the guitar solos are insane! A nice chapter in the Bible of Megadeth.