Songs about Lawyers, Judges, and Attorneys

Over the last few months, we here at Abnormal Use have corresponded regularly with our friends at the Drug and Device Law blog, most notably Steve McConnell and Jim Beck, about both the law and popular culture. The subject of our conversations inevitably turned to music, a topic held dear by us all. Although our two blogs have previously quibbled on musical issues, we were elated to hear that Steve is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and the late, great Arthur Lee. We have also learned that Jim Beck has a keen knowledge of The Rolling Stones. Over the course of these many discussions, we decided we would combine our two topics of interest – the law and music – and cobble together a list of songs, both popular and obscure, about the law and lawyers.

Steve and Jim took the first stab at a list, and they were kind enough to give us a sneak preview. Accordingly, armed with the knowledge of the songs they selected, we here decided that we would attempt to expand that list, rather than repeat what they listed. So, we won’t be including tunes like Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” or Jackson Browne’s “Lawyers in Love,” because Steve and Jim beat us to those and several others that come to mind. See here for their thorough and entertaining list that they posted this morning (at the very same moment our post went live), and couple that with our list below. You can then fill your own iTunes library until it’s full with tunes about attorneys, jurisprudence, and the hallowed halls of courthouses.

We’ll start with a list of songs which happen to mention the law or lawyers

AC/DC – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” (“My Daddy was workin‘ 9 to 5 when my Momma was havin‘ me / By the time I was half alive I knew what I was gonna be / I left school and grew my hair / They didn’t understand / They wanted me to be respected as a doctor or a lawyer man/ But I had other plans”)

The Auteurs – “Underground Movies” (“She’s got a credo in underground movies / Her father is a lawyer / Who paid for the fitting and fixtures /And a house with bay windows.”)

B.B. King – “She’s My Baby” (“Hey, she’s my lawyer when I’m in trouble.”)

Beastie Boys – “Car Thief” (“Said good-bye to my girl, my lawyers, and accountants.”)

Belle and Sebastian – “Legal Man” (“Not withstanding provisions of clauses 1, 2, 3, and 4 / Extend contractual period, me and you for evermore.”)

Bob Dylan – “Cry A While” (“I might need a good lawyer, could be a funeral mad trial.”)

Bob Dylan – “Walls of Red Wing” (“Oh, some of us will wind up in St. Cloud prison / And some of us’ll end up to be lawyers and things / And some of us’ll stand to meet you on your crossroads / From inside the grounds of the walls of Red Wing.”)

Bon Jovi – “Blood on Blood” (“Now Bobby, an uptown lawyer Danny, a medicine man / And me, I’m just the singer in a long haired rock ‘n’ roll band / Through the years and miles between us it’s been a long and lonely ride / But if I got that call in the dead of the night, I’d be right by your side.”)

Bruce Springsteen – “Atlantic City” (“The D.A. can’t get no relief.”)

Bryan Adams – “Not Guilty” (“Do I have to prove my innocence? / Don’t need a lawyer with a fat degree / Cause if lovin‘ you is against the law / Then you better lock me up and throw away the key.”)

Camper Van Beethoven – “Good Guys and Bad Guys” (“Well there are good guys and there are bad guys / And there are crooks and criminals / There are doctors and there are lawyers / And there are folks like you and me.”)

Carly Simon – “Coming to Get You” (“Lovers and lawyers in Arkansas / Laid down the law.”)

Chuck Berry – “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (“Arrested on charges of unemployment / He was sitting in the witness stand / The judge’s wife called up the district attorney / Said you free that brown eyed man / You want your job you better free that brown eyed man.”)

Chuck Brodsky – “Talk to My Lawyer” (“I was walking outside of City Hall – I slipped and I had a terrible fall / It was negligence on the part of I don’t care who / I fell so hard I was seeing stars / Dollar signs and men from Mars / And the man who helped me up said I ought to sue / He was a lawyer, he was all out of breath.”)

The Clash – “Guns on the Roof” (“Sue the lawyers and burn all the papers / Unlock the key of the legal papers / A jury of a billion faces / Shouted out condemned out of hand.”)

The Clash – “Midnight Log” (“Cooking up the books / A respected occupation / The anchor and foundation of multi-corporations / They don’t believe in crime / They don’t know that it exists / But to understand / What’s right and wrong / The lawyers work in shifts.”)

The Coral – “Liezah” (“So, lawyers doctors please beware of that girl with wavy hair / She will cut you down to size / Reveal the truth behind your disguise.”)

Creed – “My Own Prison” (“A court is in session / A verdict is in / No appeal on the docket today / Just my own sin.”)

Dance Hall Crashers – “Sue Us” (“I heard you had a mind to sue / Why I don’t know? / I guess your lawyers will tell us.”)

Dave Frishberg – “My Attorney Bernie” (“I’m impressed with my attorney Bernie / I’m impressed with his influential friends.”)

David Bowie – “I Have Not Been to Oxford” (“And the prison priests are decent / My attorney seems sincere / I fear my days are numbered / Lord, get me out of here.”)

Dead Kennedys – “When Ya Get Drafted” (“If you can’t afford a slick attorney we might make you a spy.”)

Dire Straits – “Telegraph Road” (“Then came the lawyers, then came the rules.”)

Don Henley – “The End of the Innocence” (“The lawyers clean up all details / since daddy had to lie.”)

Don Henley – “Garden of Allah” (“Today I made and appearance downtown / I am an expert witness, because I say I am / And I said, “Gentleman, and I use that word loosely, I will testify for you, I’m a gun for hire, I’m a saint, I’m a liar Because there are no facts, no truth, just data to be manipulated, I can get you any result you like / What’s it worth to you?”)

The Eagles – “Get Over It” (“Let’s kill all the lawyers, kill ’em tonight.”)

The Eurythmics – “Sisters Are Doin‘ It For Themselves” (“We got doctors, lawyers, and politicians, too.”)

Fishbone – “Ma and Pa” (“Well, there’s a lot of money / For all the attorneys.”)

Fountains of Wayne – “California Sex Lawyer” (“I’ve got a license to love.”)

Frank Zappa – “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” (“Gotta meet the Guerneys and a dozen gray attorneys.”)

Frank Zappa – “Heavenly Bank Account” (“He says the grace while the lawyers chew.”)

Geoff Berner – “My Dad’s A Lawyer” (“It’s a privilege to announce my dad’s a lawyer.”)

George Harrison – “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” (“Bring your lawyer, and I’ll bring mine / Get together, we could have a bad time.”)

George Harrison – “Wreck of the Hesperus” (“I’m not a power of attorney / But I can rock as good as Gibraltar.”)

Guns N’ Roses – “You Could Be Mine” (“Don’t forget to call my lawyers with ridiculous demands.”)

Jewel – “Who Will Save Your Soul” (” . . . [A]nother lawyer’s bill . . .”)

Kitty Wells – “Will your Lawyer Talk to God” (“Your lawyer called and said he had the papers all prepared / To sign my name was all I had to do / He saw the judge, now he seen me, there’s only one thing left / Will your lawyer talk to God for you?”)

Lou Reed – “Dirty Blvd.” (“Where’s the proof, man? Let me speak to my attorney.”)

Mojo Nixon – “Destroy All Lawyers” (There’s a plague on the planet, and they went to law school.”)

Neil Young – “Sixty to Zero” (“There’s a judge in the city / He goes to work every day / Spends his life in the courthouse / Keeps his perspective that way.”)

Neil Young – “Drivin‘ Thunder” (“I stopped into the courthouse / I had to pay some bills / Got talking with the judge / About the finer points of my driving skills.”)

Panic at the Disco – “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” (“The missus will stay with the cheating attorney.”)

Pink Floyd – “The Trial” (“The evidence before the court is incontrovertible / There’s no need for the jury to retire / In all my years of judging I have never heard before / Of someone more deserving the full penalty of law.”)

The Pogues – “Repeal of the Licensing Laws” (Instrumental)

R.E.M. – “Can’t Get There From Here” (“Lawyer Jeff he knows the lowdown.”)

The Roots – “Table of Contents (Parts 1 & 2)” (“Cutting through like attorneys at law that’s car chasin‘.”)

Todd Rundgren – “Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song” (“And bound on that journey you find your attorney.”)

Tom Paxton – “One Million Lawyers” (“In ten years we’re gonna have one million lawyers / How much can a poor nation stand?”)

A Tribe Called Quest – “Show Business” (“Get a good lawyer, so problems won’t pile.”)Tom Petty – “Accused of Love” (“Well, the attorney grins / The witness is drug in / With his face half hid in the shadow / Sworn to God and state, the truth arrives too late / and defense goes out the window”)

Warren Zevon – “Mr. Bad Example” (“Of course I went to law school and took a law degree / and counseled all my clients to plead insanity.”)

Weezer – “Jamie” (“Jamie, believe me, I won’t let you down / Cuz you are the best lawyer in town.”)

Willie Nelson – “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” (“Make ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such.”)

As noted in the Drug and Device Law blog’s post, many law songs mention the criminal process. Here’s a brief list of some other such songs we identified:

10 CC – “Good Morning, Judge” (“Well, good morning Judge / How are you today ? / I’m in trouble please put me away.”)

Black Flag – “Police Story” (“I go to court for my crime / Stand in line, pay bail / I may serve time.”)

Bruce Springsteen – “Johnny 99″ (“Well your honor I do believe I’d be better off dead / And if you can take a man’s life for the thoughts that’s in his head / Then won’t you sit back in that chair and think it over judge one more time / And let ‘em shave off my hair and put me on that execution line.”)

Bruce Springsteen – “Highway Patrolmen” (“My name is Joe Roberts I work for the state / I’m a sergeant out of Perrineville barracks number 8.”)

Bruce Springsteen – “State Trooper” (“Mister state trooper, please don’t stop me . . . .”)

Bukka White – “District Attorney Blues” (“A District Attorney sho‘ is hard on a man / He taken me from my woman / Cause her to love some other man / District Attorney sho‘ is hard on a man / He will take a woman’s man and leave her cold in hand.”)

The Clash – “Know Your Rights” (“You have the right to remain silent / You are warned that anything you say can and will be taken down and used as evidence against you.”)

Elvis Costello – “I Stand Accused” (“Girl, I stand accused / People say I love you / Yeah, I stand accused / Oh, but what can I do? / You belong to some other guy / Hope I never have to testify / If loving you is a big crime / I’ve been guilty a long time.”)

Fiona Apple – “Criminal” (“What I need is a good defense ’cause I’m feeling like a criminal.”)

Furry Lewis – “Judge Boushay Blues” (“Good morning judge, what may be my fine?”)

Joe Perry Project – “Never Wanna Stop” (“Judge and the jury and the district attorney / Gonna try to put my ass in jail.”)

Johnny Cash – “Hung My Head” (“Here in the court house / The whole town was there / I see the judge / High up in the chair / Explain to the court room / What went through your mind / And we’ll ask the jury / What verdict they find.”)

The Kingston Trio – “Bad Man’s Blunder” (“The judge and the jury, they did agree. They all said murder in the first degree. The judge said, saying: I don’t know whether to hang you or not, but this here killin‘ of deputy sheriffs, just naturally got to stop!” (“You’ve got a point there, judge!”)

The Kingston Trio – “Tom Dooley” (“This time tomorrow / Reckon where I’ll be Down in some lonesome valley / Hangin‘ from a white oak tree.”)

LL Cool J – “Illegal Search” (“I got cash and real attorneys on the case.”)

Metallica – “And Justice for All” (“Halls of justice, painted green / Money talking, Power wolves beset your door / Hear them stalking.”)

Morrissey – “I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty” (“I’ve changed my plea to guilty / Because freedom is wasted on me.”)

The Specials – “Stupid Marriage” (“Court in session. What do you mean ‘Oy, oy, oy‘? Must have court in session. Order. My name is Judge Roughneck, And I will not tolerate any disobedience in my courtroom. Rude boy, you have been brought in Front of me and charged with smashing this woman’s window. Before I sentence you, What have you got to say in your defense?”)

Was Not Was – “Dad, I’m in Jail” (“Say hi to mom / From jail!”)

We also located a few songs about family law (although we suspect there are many more):

Tammy Wynette – “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” (“Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today.”).

Steely Dan – “Haitian Divorce” (“This is your Haitian divorce.”).

Weird Al Yankovic – “Alimony” (“Lawyer’s callin‘ me on the telephony / Tryin‘ to squeeze some blood from a stony, stony.”)

There aren’t too many songs about products liability. However, we did manage to come up with a few songs that at least sound like they might be about that type of litigation:

Alice in Chains – “Angry Chair”

Beck – “Broken Drum”

Belle X1 – “The Ribs of A Broken Umbrella

Built to Spill – “Broken Chairs”

As for bands that just might have named themselves after products liability issues, what about Dangerous Toys?

Keeping in mind their beat, the folks at the Drug and Device Law blog also came up with a list of songs about drugs. Well, as they note, way too many rock songs are about drugs, but there are some at least that sound like they might be about the the prescription medication industry:

Candlebox – “Happy Pills”

Eels – “Novocaine for the Soul”

Entrance – “Valium Blues”

Fugazi – “Give Me The Cure”

Morphine – “Cure for Pain”

Neil Young – “The Needle and the Damage Done”

New York Dolls – “Pills”

Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”

Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated”

U2 – “Miracle Drug”

The Velvet Underground – “I’m Waiting for the Man”

The Verve – “The Drugs Don’t Work”

Let’s not forget the Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill, either, or the rock groups named Codeine and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. And, of course, if you’re looking for band names that sounds related to the pharmaceutical industry, what about The Cure?

Back in the halcyon days of the 1980s, we encountered one cassette tape of popular music actually produced by a major pharmaceutical company. We had to dig through our forlorn box of old cassettes, but we did manage to find it, and here’s an image of the cassette’s cover:

A joint production of Smith, Kline, and French (now a part of GlaxoSmithKline) and Capitol Records, the 1985 cassette celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of the prescription drug Dyazide. In so doing, the release included a number of songs from 1965. We’ve scoured the Internet for information on this release and found little, if anything. So, in the interests of posterity, we present you the track list of songs from 1965 included thereon:

SIDE ONE

1. Beach Boys – “California Girls”
2. Cher – “All I Really Want to Do”
3. The Seekers – “Another You”
4. Mel Carter – “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”
5. Gary Lewis and the Playboys – “This Diamond Ring”

SIDE TWO

1. Jackie DeShannon – “What The World Needs Now”
2. The Beach Boys – “Help Me, Rhonda”
3. The Lettermen – “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’”
4. Freddie and the Dreamers – “I’m Telling You Now”
5. Al Martino – “Spanish Eyes”

While on the subject of lawyers and music, we would be quite remiss if we did not mention The Honorable Stephen S. Trott, a justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who was a member of the folk group The Highwaymen in the late 50s early 60s.

Further, we must note that although our friends at the Drug and Device Law blog did include “I Fought The Law” (originally by the Bobby Fuller Four, later covered by The Clash) on their list, they neglected to mention the subsequent covers by The Dead Kennedys, Green Day, Unknown Hinson, and Bell X1 (only some of which are worth a listen). We’ll forgive them that.

Finally, dear readers, if you’ve noticed that a song is missing from either our list or that of the Drug and Device Law blog, please feel free to leave us a comment with the omitted song(s). We’re sure we’ve missed many, many others. Also, if you happen to be a law blogger yourself, we encourage you to write your own post with your own list of songs we missed (or even a Top 10 list of your all time favorite songs that mention the law or lawyers).

Comments

  1. This is, indeed, a stunning post. Would make an interesting book, actually. My knowledge on such songs is limited, but I do recommend to you this gem from Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet's "The Juliet Letters" (1993): "Jacksons, Monk and Rowe".

  2. Excellent post. I would, however, respectfully add Jay-Z's "99 Problems," a mini-treatise on 4th Amendment law, if ever there was one:

    The year is '94 and in my trunk is raw
    In my rear view mirror is the mother f*cking law
    I got two choices yall pull over the car or
    bounce on the double put the pedal to the floor
    Now I ain't trying to see no highway chase with jake
    Plus I got a few dollars I can fight the case
    So I…pull over to the side of the road
    And I heard "Son do you know why I'm stopping you for?"
    Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hats real low
    Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don't know
    Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo?
    "Well you was doing fifty five in a fifty four"
    "License and registration and step out of the car"
    "Are you carrying a weapon on you I know a lot of you are"
    I ain't stepping out of shit all my papers legit
    "Do you mind if I look round the car a little bit?"
    Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk and the back
    And I know my rights so you gon' need a warrant for that
    "Aren't you sharp as a tack are some type of lawyer or something?"
    "Or somebody important or something?"
    Nah I ain't pass the bar but I know a little bit
    Enough that you won't illegally search my sh*t
    "Well see how smart you are when the K-9's come"

  3. Rush: Show Dont Tell

  4. "Get Over It" has always been one of my favorite songs about the law. It's not just the one Shakespearean lyric; the whole song is about a culture of insufficient personal responsibility: "Well you haven't been the same since you had your little crash/ But you might feel better if I gave you some cash… You don't want to work, you want to live like a king/ But the big bad world doesn't owe you a thing."

  5. I work as a family law legal assistant but long ago worked in an evictions office. I’m also a songwriter and wrote a song called “Evicted” which uses the legal terminology of the eviction field but the song is really about Force Majeur, the ultimate eviction that even the best attorney cannot prevent. If you look up my website, take a listen to “Evicted,” and thanks for the interesting post!

  6. Wow! What a comprehensive list! Music can change the world, change laws and confront or promote any social movement. You can see the Top 10 Songs about Breaking the Law at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2013/05/top-10-songs-about-breaking-law.html

  7. Saul Goodman says:

    Great post! I’m please to see that you already have some Dylan on the list; however, here are a few more:

    “Day of the Locusts”
    I glanced into the chamber where the judges were talking
    Darkness was everywhere, it smelled like a tomb

    “Moonlight”
    Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
    It takes a thief to catch a thief

    “Ballad of a Thin Man”
    With great lawyers you have
    Discussed lepers and crooks

    “Hurricane”
    The trial was a pig circus; he never had a chance

    “Little Sadie”
    The judge and the jury they took their stand.
    The judge had the papers in his right hand.

    There are actually a bunch of Dylan songs that mention judges. Also, if you really want to add to your collection dig into some old murder ballads – plenty of judges and trials there.

    And, I leave you with a Woody Guthrie classic:

    “Philadelphia Lawyer”
    Way out in Reno, Nevada
    Where romance blooms and fades
    A great Philadelphia lawyer
    Was in love with a Hollywood maid

  8. Saul Goodman says:

    Oh, one more personal favorite:

    “Pig, Sheep & Wolves” by Paul Simon
    Court-appointed lawyer wasn’t very bright
    Or maybe he was bright
    Maybe he just had a late night
    Yeah it was just a late night
    And he files some feeble appeal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


one * = 2

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>