“Mr. Cab Driver” by Lenny Kravitz
Song Year: 1990
Lenny Kravitz can lay down the funk and deliver a message at the same time. Such is the case with “Mr. Cab Driver” from his debut album, Let Love Rule.
The song is about racial discrimination as Kravitz tries to hail a cab, but not one driver will stop because of the color of his skin. The cab driver sees a person with dreads as a stereotype, someone not to be trusted.
“Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell
Song Year: 1968
“Wichita Lineman” captures the lonely existence of the working man, a telephone repairman up a pole with no one to talk to, but he can hear a voice through the wires. He pines for the woman he wants to be with all the time.
The song was a crossover hit for Glen Campbell. It reached #1 on the Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts and hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Taxman” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1966
Written by George Harrison as a direct shot at the Treasury for imposing a “super tax,” “Taxman” makes a statement. When the taxman sings, “there's one for you, nineteen for me,” Harrison wasn’t kidding. The Beatles were paying 95% of their earnings back in tax.
From their 1966 release Revolver, “Taxman” was one of the first songs The Beatles recorded that was somewhat political, even calling out politicians’ names in the lyrics. No matter what you do, the taxman will be right there to put a tax on it.
“Doctor, My Eyes” by Jackson Browne
Song Year: 1972
“Doctor, My Eyes” is about a man who has seen too much in the world and asks his doctor what he can do about it. Having lived without crying at what he witnessed, his eyes may have permanent damage.
From his debut album, Jackson Browne, the song peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite a feeling of despair in the lyrics, the tempo is upbeat, and David Crosby and Graham Nash provide the vocal harmonies.
“Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes
Song Year: 1961
The Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” became Motown’s very first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. The record spent 23 weeks on the charts and sold over 1 million copies.
The Marvelettes plead with Mr. Postman to search his bag for a letter or card from the long-lost boyfriend. Surely today, the Postman will make their tears go away.
“Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” by Led Zeppelin
Song Year: 1969
“Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” is not as much about housekeeping as it is about a groupie who had once been stalking Led Zeppelin. She was a constant talker, always telling tall tales about her past life when she had a maid and a butler.
Jimmy Page is on record as saying it is his least favorite Zeppelin song. As a result, Led Zeppelin never performed the song live.
“I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” by The Moody Blues
Song Year: 1973
English prog-rock band, The Moody Blues, likens being a singer in a band to a world traveler meeting people along the way. But how is just a singer supposed to make sense of people bringing destruction upon themselves?
“I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” has more of a rock and roll feel to it than the typical Moody Blues trippy psychedelia. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Astronaut in The Ocean” by Masked Wolf
Song Year: 2019
From his album Astronomical, Australian rapper Masked Wolf released a song about a profession carried out far above our world: astronaut. Yet, in this case, the astronaut is not in space where he is meant to be but rather stuck in the ocean.
The song launched Masked Wolf into the stratosphere of success. The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has reached over a billion views across multiple platforms.
“Smooth Operator” by Sade
Song Year: 1984
The ‘operator’ in the lyrics of Sade’s signature song does not refer to a telephone company employee but rather a smooth criminal, a grifter, somebody who uses women for their money. He moves from coast to coast, playing with women’s emotions, his own heart icy cold.
“Smooth Operator” was an international success for Sade, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
“The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Song Year: 1970
The happy face of a clown can often mask the sadness deep inside, and this is the message behind Smokey Robinson’s “The Tears of a Clown.” The clown puts on a face in public but sheds tears in private because he is without his love.
“The Tears of a Clown” was an international hit, hitting #1 in the UK and on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Stevie Wonder wrote the music for the song.