If you missed Top 20 Crime Songs Part 1: check it out!
We love the bad guys… we just do. We cheer for the good guy, but a well played bad guy strikes a tone in the darkest part of our hearts that we secretly identify with. From Alan Rickman to Mark Sheppard, we love a really good bad guy. And the music scene is no different.
Top 10 Crime Songs
10. Gun Fighting, Murder, Robery(?)- Blaze of Glory, Bon Jovi
Written for the movie Young Guns II, this classic piece of hair rock is easily my favorite of all of Bon Jovi’s hits, and, as an astute reader commented last week, “It’s Bon Jovi!”
9. Murder, Cop Killing- I Shot the Sheriff, Eric Clapton
I would never have thought a guitar legend like Clapton could rock a reggae tune like this, but let’s face it: the longer he’s in the business, the less he can’t do. Heck, I’d let him off on a misdemeanor just because he’s so cool. And besides, he didn’t shoot the deputy. That’s gotta count for something.
8. Arson- While the City Sleeps, MC 900 foot Jesus
This song is just awesome for setting the scene for a pyromaniac toasting an abandoned building. It’s mysterious, creepy and lends a view into the psyche of someone who gets his kicks burning down buildings.
7. Mob Ties, Conspiracy, Espionage-Life During Wartime, Talking Heads
This strangely aerobic performance has nothing really to do with the topic of the song. The lyrics do smack of “Hitting the mattresses” as gangsters set up to take each other on in the city. The Mudd Club and C.B.G.B. (mentioned half way through the song) were actual venues in Manhattan that spawned a lot of underground punk music back in the seventies.
6. Mob Ties, Extortion, Prostitution, Murder-Speak Softly Love, The Godfather Soundtrack
Why is it that soft, simple music accompanies violence and pure evil so eloquently? A friend of mine who majored in music said it was because the power of classical music (and in this case, the simple, flowing style of Speak Softly Love) underline the emotion that pulls the trigger on a rival gang.
5. Theft, Breaking and Entering, Murder, Resisting Arrest, Drug Use-Take the Money and Run, Steve Miller Band
Probably the best Bonnie and Clyde song out there, Bobby Sue and Billy Joe were far more successful than their real counterparts, but even though the song makes you want to dance, you aren’t exactly rooting for this duet. I mean, they sat around getting high, decided to make it even better and “Shot a man while robbing his castle.” You kinda hope the cops catch up to them in the end. Don’t hold your breath on that one, though.
4. Attempted Robbery, Attempted Assault with a Deadly Weapon- The Bank Job, Barenaked Ladies
What a whimsical look into the wide world of screwing up a bank heist. I think there are as many people who have the perfect restaurant designed in there heads as there are people who design the perfect bank heist. Here’s what happens when the perfect job gets a divine monkey wrench thrown into the works…
3. Theft, Murder, Being the Coolest Guy in the Old West- Billy the Kid, Billy Joel
This song is about as historically inaccurate as you’re going to get, but it’s so easy to get into the story Mr. Joel plays out! This is a piece hidden on the B-side of The Piano Man album, and every time I hear it, I can still hear the pops from the vinyl copy I had when I was a kid.
2. Mob Ties, Revenge, Murder- Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
Another alert reader suggested this one, and who can deny one of the greatest songs about revenge, murder and what would eventually be considered a drive-by shooting? Not to mention, that is one killer base line.
1. Mob Ties, Murder, Extortion, Prostitution, Theft- Mac the Knife, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
The first song that I ever heard that put such a happy spin on the most heinous crimes out there, Mac the Knife earns a heavy #1 on the list. As far as I can tell, Mac the Knife isn’t based on any real personage, even though I looked up each of the victim’s names as they are listed in the song. After hearing how each person meets their fate, maybe we can take some small amount of comfort in that.
This was a lot of fun to put together, but I can’t help but wonder if I missed anybody. If you know of a great crime song, I’d love to hear about it! Just leave a note below and let me know who you think should be on this list.