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Top 11 Songs About Doctors
“My doctor told me to stop having in,timate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.”
– Orson Welles
- “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” by Robert Palmer
British artist Robert Palmer died in 2003 at the age of 54, leaving behind No. 1 hits like “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love.” The blue-eyed soul singer’s “Bad Case of Loving You” was a Top 20 single in 1979. The song was written and first recorded in 1978 by Moon Martin.
“How Robert came about recording the song was that Robert told me he was going to do a show, and he was being driven to the show by a program guy, and the program guy asked him if he had heard this new Moon Martin record and played him ‘Bad Case Of Loving You,'” Martin recalled on Robert Palmer: Music & Style. “Robert, later, put it in his set.
“I’m in Vermont, and someone says, ‘Hey, Robert Palmer is recording “Bad Case Of Loving You.” I said, ‘Really?’ I said that it would be interesting if ‘Bad Case’ and one of my songs come out at the same time. So I get back home to California, and I get a call from Warner Bros. and they said, ‘Robert’s down here and wants to meet you. Could you come down?’ And they said, ‘By the way, “Bad Case Of Loving You” is going to be a number one record.’ This is before the record is even released.”
“Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” by Robert Palmer
“Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” by Moon Martin
- “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News
“I Want a New Drug” was a Top 10 hit for Huey Lewis and the News in 1984. “It’s really a love song,” Lewis explained in Song Hits. “It’s not a pro-drug song; it’s not really even an anti-drug song. The word drug sort of gets your attention.”
Lewis wrote “New Drug” with guitarist Chris Hayes; bassist Mario Cipollina contributed to an earlier version. “I was driving to my lawyer’s office when the idea came to me,” Lewis told Rolling Stone. “I busted in his door and said, ‘Bob, give me a pen and paper!’ I then literally wrote down almost all the lyrics. When we tried to write music to it, we kept missing it. We had a version of it that Mario and I wrote together, but it just wasn’t good enough. One day Chris called me and said, ‘I got it!’ He came to my house and played the lick, and I sang my little lyric and we put it on tape. It was five minutes.”
- “Doctor’s Orders” by Carol Douglas
British singer Sunny Leslie was the first to record “Doctor’s Orders.” Leslie had recently split from the vocal duo Sue and Sunny and kept the one-word name as a solo artist. The song became a UK hit despite BBC Radio’s reluctance to spin a record about a woman’s medical condition. The song was recorded on Midland International Records in the US by disco diva Carol Douglas and became a Top 20 hit in 1975.
“When I first auditioned for ‘Doctor’s Orders’ they told me I sounded great, but too black,” Douglas revealed on EurWeb. “My producers wanted to capture my more melodic pop/commercial tones, which undeniably made me sound white on the radio. People were always shocked to know I was black. I actually ended up with a very big Caucasian international and national fan base. However, whenever I went to promote my records at the radio stations they were always surprised to find out I was black. This used to give me an inferiority complex. For a while, I really went through a racial thing and felt very sad and lost. I always wanted to do a funky black album, but the label wouldn’t allow it.”
“Doctor’s Orders” by Carol Douglas
“Doctor’s Orders” by Sunny
- “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones
Tommy Ramone once said, “We play short songs and short sets for people who don’t have a lot of spare time.” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” from the Ramones‘ 1978 LP Road to Ruin, fits that bill. Its writer, Joey Ramone, explained on MTV’s Unplugged that he wrote the song in a London hotel room.
“It’s a road song. I wrote it in 1977, through ’78 … There’s a line in it that goes, ‘nothing to do, nowhere to go, I wanna be sedated.’ That comes from, we were really big in England in ’76. We were there at Christmastime and at Christmastime, London shuts down. There’s nothing to do, there’s nowhere to go. And we were in London for the first time in our lives, being big fans of the Beatles and all that stuff, the Stones, and being in England for the first time, and me and Dee Dee were sharing a room in the hotel, and we were watching The Guns of Navarone. So we had nothing to do! I mean, here we are in London finally, and here’s what we were doing, watching American movies in the hotel room.”
- “Witch Doctor” by David Seville
“Witch Doctor” was a novelty No. 1 hit in 1958 for Ross Bagdasarian Sr. under the stage name David Seville. Bagdasarian was also the creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks. He used the same technique of recording at half-speed and playing back at normal speed to produce the high-pitched voices of the witch doctor and later, the Chipmunks.
The Wacky Top 40 relates that Bagdasarian once told reporters, “My mind was a little madder that its normal semi-orderly state of confusion. I looked up from my desk and saw a book called Duel With the Witch Doctor, which was written by Jan de Hartog, and I realized that all the teenage records that were selling seemed to have one thing in common, you couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. So I decided to have the witch doctor give advice to the lovelorn in his own language — a kind of qualified gibberish.”
- “The Real Me” by The Who
Quadrophenia was The Who‘s 1973 rock opera about Jimmy, a boy with four separate personalities. “The Real Me,” written by Pete Townshend, opens with the lyrics, “I went back to the doctor / To get another shrink / I sit and tell him about my weekend / But he never betrays what he thinks / Can you see the real me, doctor?”
“When we were recording Quadrophenia it was basically like a live show in the studio,” engineer Bob Pridden told Modern Drummer. “We had a lot of influence from The Band’s album Music from Big Pink. We more or less set that up the same way [in one room together]. I was in the studio mixing their headphones. Basically they were playing a live performance.”
John Entwistle has been lauded for his bass work on the track. Entwistle told Goldmine that he considered it one of his best. “‘The Real Me’ was the first take. I was joking when I did that bass part. The band said, ‘Wow, that’s great, that’s great!’ And I was just messing around. They just loved the song. I was sitting on top of my speaker cabinet playing a silly bass part and that’s the one they liked.”
- “Doctor Robert” by the Beatles
“Doctor Robert” has been called the first Beatles song with an explicit reference to drugs. The song, largely written by John Lennon, was released in the US on the 1966 Yesterday and Today album. “Another of mine. Mainly about drugs and pills,” Lennon recalled in All We Are Saying. “It was about myself. I was the one that carried all the pills on tour. Well, in the early days. Later on the roadies did it. We just kept them in our pockets loose. In case of trouble.”
The song’s title character has been rumored to be Dr. Robert Freymann, who ran a New York clinic-to-the-stars that dispensed vitamin-B shots that contained amphetamines. Paul McCartney disputed that idea.
“John and I thought it was a funny idea: the fantasy doctor who would fix you up by giving you drugs, it was a parody on that idea,” McCartney said in Many Years From Now. “It’s just a piss-take. As far as I know, neither of us ever went to a doctor for those kinds of things. But there was a fashion for it and there still is. Change your blood and have a vitamin shot and you’ll feel better.”
- “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson
Producer Richard Perry suggested that Harry Nilsson do the voices of the various characters in “Coconut,” a novelty tune released in 1971 on the Nilsson Schmilsson LP. Released as a single, it reached No. 8 in 1972. Nilsson used an exaggerated Jamaican accent for the voices of a doctor and a woman hoping “to relieve this belly ache.”
The musicians on the track were Caleb Quaye on electric guitar, Ian Duck on acoustic guitar, drummer Jim Gordon and bassist Herbie Flowers. In Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter, Flowers described how Perry, or RP, assembled the tracks from several takes. “We ran ‘Coconut’ over and over, like you do on RP sessions. A bit of a roast-up really, in a funny key, and not a lot of room for anything other than a repetitive bass part.
“So, amongst all the takes, RP edited the best bits together, and then at a later date got other players in to overdub their bits, then redid the voice, and Bob’s your uncle, another masterpiece.” FYI, “and Bob’s your uncle” is a Britishism for “and there you are.”
- “I Don’t Need No Doctor” by Humble Pie
“I Don’t Need No Doctor” was co-written by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who recorded their own version in 1966. The song became an R&B staple after Ray Charles made it a hit later that year. Many rock fans were introduced to the tune by Humble Pie in 1971. Guitarist Peter Frampton told Guitars Exchange that the song was symbolic of the band’s drift from acoustic to hard rock. “I actually came up with some of the heavier riffs before Humble Pie, like ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ and ‘Stone Cold Fever’ to name just two, so you can’t really say that heavy rock wasn’t my thing: it was, I loved it. It is just that our direction had got narrowed and that’s all we were doing, because that is what the audience wanted.
“We were sort of gravitating towards making the live show as powerful as possible; especially as we were going on and opening for acts in 10,000-seater venues, we wanted to be remembered. So we hit the ground running every show and it got more and more electric, which I loved, there was nothing wrong with that at all, it was phenomenal, but the more acoustic side of Humble Pie was being reduced, and I wanted to be able to run the gamut as opposed to doing just one kind of thing.”
“I Don’t Need No Doctor” by Humble Pie
“I Don’t Need No Doctor” by Ray Charles
- “Doctor Feelgood” by Aretha Franklin
“Doctor Feelgood” was a highlight of Aretha Franklin’s landmark 1967 album, I Never Loved a Man the Way That I Love You, which included the hit “Respect.” Rather than someone with a medical degree, “Doctor Feelgood” was a reference to a great lover. Rolling Stone reported: “When Ted White, Franklin’s husband and manager, played a demo for producer Jerry Wexler, the producer said that he loved it, seeing it in the tradition of blues songs about women demanding sexual satisfaction. ‘Don’t put it to Aretha like that,’ White warned him. ‘She doesn’t like to think she writes sexy songs.'”
An extended version of the song was recorded March 6, 1971 for Franklin’s Live at Fillmore West LP. “All the planets were aligned,” Franklin recalled in Aretha: From These Roots, “because when the music came down, it was as real and righteous as any recording I’d ever made.”
“Doctor Feelgood” by Aretha Franklin (from Live at Fillmore West)
- “Dear Doctor” by the Rolling Stones
By 1968, Rolling Stones fans had soured on the psychedelic experimentation of the previous year’s Their Satanic Majesties Request LP. Beggars Banquet was welcomed by fans and reviewers as a return to the Stones’ roots in American country and blues. The album included songs that were a nod to the rural South: “Factory Girl,” “Salt of the Earth” and “Dear Doctor.”
“Dear Doctor” was all-acoustic, with guitar, tack piano, harmonica, tambourine and upright bass backing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards‘ take on a Southern accent. Jagger explained in According to the Rolling Stones that his love for country music went back years. “As far as country music was concerned, we used to play country songs, but we’d never record them — or we recorded them but never released them. Keith and I had been playing Johnny Cash records and listening to the Everly Brothers — who were so country — since we were kids. I used to love country music even before I met Keith.
“The country songs, like ‘Factory Girl’ and ‘Dear Doctor’ on Beggars Banquet, were really pastiche. There’s a sense of humor in country music anyway, a way of looking at life in a humorous kind of way — and I think we were just acknowledging that element of the music.”
February 26, 2021