3 Rock Songs That Are Odes to Late Musicians

The world feels the deaths of major musicians full-heartedly. Fans of a lost icon will mourn their losses on a global scale. But, it’s not just fans that feel that loss, sometimes it’s their fellow musicians that are hit the hardest. Check out three songs below that act as odes to late musicians.

Videos by American Songwriter

1. “Angel of Harlem” (U2)

Though U2‘s “Angel of Harlem” is specifically an homage to Billie Holiday, it also acts as an overarching ode to jazz as a whole. The Irish rockers nod to several heavyweight jazz performers including Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. They place them in their titular playing ground, New York City.

Birdland on fifty-three
The street sounds like a symphony
We got John Coltrane and a love supreme
Miles, and she’s got to be an angel

Lady Day got diamond eyes
She sees the truth behind the lies

2. “Edge of Seventeen” (Stevie Nicks)

“Edge of Seventeen” was inspired by two life-altering events in Stevie Nicks‘ life: the death of her uncle and that of John Lennon. The men shared a name and close death dates. “The white-winged dove in the song is a spirit that is leaving a body, and I felt a great loss at how both Johns were taken,” Nicks once explained.

Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song, sounds like she’s singing
I said ooh, baby, ooh, said ooh
Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song, sounds like she’s singing
I said ooh, baby, ooh, said ooh

[RELATED: Stevie Nicks Live in Concert Tour 2024: How To Get Tickets]

3. “All Those Years Ago” (George Harrison)

Speaking of songs written in honor of Lennon, we’re finishing our list with George Harrison‘s “All Those Years Ago.” His former bandmate’s death was enough for Harrison to bury the hatchet and invite both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to help him record this track. Now we’re left cold and sad / By someone, the devil’s best friend / Someone who offended all, Harrison sang, referencing Lennon’s killer, Mark Chapman.

We’re living in a bad dream
They’ve forgotten all about mankind
And you were the one they backed up to the wall
All those years ago
You were the one who imagined it all
All those years ago

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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