[Originally Published: May 13, 2010]
A status update from our friend Justin of the OhKeePah Blog read that he “likes songs with whistling,” which got us thinking about all the songs in rock history that feature whistling. There are plenty of duds but plenty of classic tunes as well that contain at least a little whistling in them.
For this week’s B List we’ve put together a list of the ten most memorable songs that include whistling. The tunes that you can’t help but hum along with when you hear them on the radio or see them on TV.
10. The Scorpions – Wind of Change
During the summer of 1991, you couldn’t listen to Top 40 radio for more than 20 minutes without hearing Klaus Meine’s distinctive whistling throughout The Scorpions’ epic power ballad – Wind of Change. The tune, which is about the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, made it to #4 in the States but still stands as the 10th best selling single in the history of Germany. READ ON for our nine most memorable whistling songs…
9. Peter Bjorn & John – Young Folks
We don’t know what it is that has made whistling in songs unfashionable, but Peter Bjorn & John’s 2006 classic Young Folks is the only song on this list less than 19 years old. Somebody has to write another great song that includes whistling soon. Regardless, this tune propelled PB&J to fame a few years ago thanks in part to the ultra-catchy whistling segment.
8. Monty Python – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Eric Idle wrote Always Look on the Bright Side of Life for the 1979 Monty Python film Life of Brian. While Idle wrote the tune, it was his Python troupemate Neil Innes who came up with the memorable whistling part. moe.fans might remember this song as the the last tune the group played at moe.down 9 in 2008 before setting off for an indefinite hiatus that only wound up lasting a few months.
7. Phish – Reba
C’mon, did you really think this tune wouldn’t be on a list? You can lead a jam fan to water but you can’t make him stop listening to noodle jamz. This Phish original with ridiculous lyrics features a whistling section that leads to the final chorus which the band may or may not perform live. Occasionally, the band members would go off script screwing with the pacing and tone of the whistling as they do on the Phish at the Roxy version from February 20, 1993.
6. Billy Joel – The Stranger
My personal favorite Billy Joel song, The Stranger was the title track for the Long Island-bred artist’s breakthrough 1977 album. Joel came up with the memorable whistling part of the tune and hummed it to producer Phil Ramone asking him what instrument should play the melody. Ramone told Joel he should just keep it as a whistle and the rest is music history.
5. Guns ‘N Roses – Patience
G’NR made big names for themselves with the hard-rockin’ tunes that make up Appetite For Destruction, so it was pretty shocking when you first heard Patience from the group’s follow-up Lies EP. Such a sweet and mellow tune, Patience was written by Izzy Stradlin but is made by Axl Rose’s Jekyll and Hyde vocal performance and, of course, the contagious whistling part.
4. Paul Simon – Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Two years after parting ways with Art Garfunkel, Simon put out a self-titled debut album that went to #4 on the charts in the U.S. One of the best tunes on the album, Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard, showed a different side of Simon’s writing and features a super-catchy whistling section.
3. John Lennon – Jealous Guy
During the sessions that produced The Beatles’ White Album, John Lennon penned a tune called Child of Nature that didn’t wind up making the double-LP. Lennon reworked the song into Jealous Guy for his Imagine LP adding new lyrics along with a kickass whistling part.
2. Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
Released shortly after his tragic death, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay showed what a major loss music endured when Otis Redding passed away. Co-written with guitarist Steve Cropper, the song contains a stellar whistling outro.
1. Hagen/Spencer – Theme to Andy Griffith Show
You can’t make a list of the most memorable songs that feature whistling without including the grand-daddy of ‘em all – The Theme to the Andy Griffith Show. This tune actually was written with lyrics as The Fishin’ Hole but the producers of the TV show went with a version that includes whistling instead of words and that’s the only version most people know.
Honorable Mention: The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian, Plenty of Andrew Bird songs, Beck – Sissyneck, Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy, Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream, Beatles – Two of Us, Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers,
So, what are you favorite tunes that feature whistling?