10 Rock Songs That Were Written as Revenge against Other Musicians

10 Rock Songs That Were Written as Revenge against Other Musicians | Society Of Rock Videos

via TomLempers / YouTube

Mastery in deploying clever and cutting remarks is an art form, with the impact of a scathing diss often lingering longer than the physical pain of an injury. Perhaps this explains why the world of hip-hop has witnessed such intense rivalries and even violent outcomes due to the power of revenge songs. While rock and metal genres may not have seen as many prominent revenge tracks as their rap counterparts, it is important to note that they do exist and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Gary Moore — ‘Led Clones’ vs WhiteSnake

In Gary Moore’s seventh solo album, After the War, he unleashed the track “Led Clones” which took a direct aim at Whitesnake and other bands of the ’80s that heavily drew influence from Led Zeppelin. This 1989 song even features guest vocals by Ozzy Osbourne, adding to its rebellious nature.

While “Led Clones” contains clever and biting lyrics, some of the disses are more general in nature, criticizing the bands for seemingly imitating Led Zeppelin. Lines such as “Led clones / You’ve stolen from the houses of the holy / You’ve rolled into the kingdom of the sane” showcase Moore’s disdain for those who have emulated Led Zeppelin’s sound.

Ian Gillan — ‘Smooth Dancer’ (Deep Purple) vs Ritchie Blackmore

During his time with Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore’s musical prowess was unmatched, earning him a reputation as one of the most captivating and skilled hard rock/metal guitarists of his era. However, his strong personality and controlling nature often clashed with his bandmates. Ian Gillan, the vocalist of Deep Purple, particularly found Blackmore’s behavior as a rock star to be off-putting. Despite being the band’s most iconic vocalist, Gillan departed after the release of the seventh album, “Who Do We Think We Are,” in 1973. But before his departure, Gillan managed to subtly criticize Blackmore’s arrogance and fashion choices in the song “Smooth Dancer”.

Nine Inch Nails — ‘Starfuckers, Inc.’ vs Marilyn Manson

Nine Inch Nails’ 1999 album “The Fragile” features the most metallic song on the record, “Starfuckers, Inc.” The heavy and riff-driven track has a clear resemblance to Ministry and was written by Trent Reznor about his former associate, Marilyn Manson, whose career he played a significant role in launching. However, due to excess drugs, alcohol, fame, and ego, the two industrial rock icons had a falling out.

Manson criticized Reznor’s significant contributions to the band’s popularity in interviews, downplaying his former mentor’s involvement. Manson also signed directly with Interscope, the parent company of NIN’s label imprint Nothing, which only fueled the tension between the two.

Foo Fighters — ‘Stacked Actors’ vs Courtney Love

“Stacked Actors” by Foo Fighters is a track that delves into the frustrations associated with the Hollywood scene and the artificiality it can represent. The song is widely interpreted as a reflection on the tension between Dave Grohl and Courtney Love, a relationship marked by public disputes that date back to the Nirvana era. While Grohl initially denied that the song specifically targeted Love, the timing of its release around her Hollywood success hinted otherwise.

However, during an interview with Howard Stern, Grohl hinted at Love being the inspiration behind the track. Despite years of legal battles and controversies, Grohl and Love publicly reconciled after Nirvana’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, marking a positive turn in their tumultuous history.

Megadeth — ‘Mechanix’ vs Metallica

The expulsion of Dave Mustaine from Metallica is a well-documented story, with Mustaine’s excessive drinking and disruptive behavior leading to his departure. Upon returning home, Mustaine channeled his anger and formed Megadeth as a means of seeking revenge on Metallica. Interestingly, Metallica went on to use some of Mustaine’s material, incorporating his riffs into their own songs like ‘The Four Horsemen’ and ‘Jump In the Fire’ from their debut album, Kill Em All. However, this did not deter Mustaine. On Megadeth’s debut album, he took ‘The Four Horsemen’ and reworked it into ‘Mechanix’, essentially playing the same song with different lyrics but at a faster pace. Mustaine’s approach went beyond just writing a simple diss track – he saw Metallica’s own tracks as ammunition in his war against them.

Oasis — ‘Street Fighting Man’ vs Keith Richards

Oasis, known for their punk attitude, openly acknowledged their admiration for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. However, their predecessors did not reciprocate the sentiment. During the promotion of their album, Be Here Now, a documentary on their early years revealed The Rolling Stones’ opinion of the group – Keith Richards dismissed them as being inferior to The Stones. This angered Liam so much that he challenged his heroes to a live radio scrap. However, Noel had a different plan. While working on the B-sides for Be Here Now, he decided to record a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ as a direct jab at Richards. The cover was included in the B-sides session release, a subtle yet pointed response to the Stones’ criticism of Oasis.

Lindsey Buckingham — ‘Go Your Own Way’ (Fleetwood Mac) vs Stevie Nicks

Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours is notorious for being fueled by revenge, with each couple in the group going through their own personal struggles. The songwriters channeled their pain into the tracks, creating emotionally charged compositions. While many took a more dignified approach in their lyrics, Lindsey Buckingham did not hold back with “Go Your Own Way”.

After going through a difficult breakup with Stevie Nicks, Buckingham wrote this song expressing his trust issues with her. Despite Nicks taking a more forgiving approach with her track “Dreams”, Buckingham portrays himself as the victim in the situation, willing to give everything to his former flame but being rejected every time. Essentially, the title of the track could be interpreted as a defiant message of “well, fuck you too” displayed prominently on the track listing.

The particularly cutting line occurs in the second verse, where Buckingham suggests that Nicks has a desire to be involved with other men, which deeply hurt his bandmate.

David Bowie — ‘Life on Mars?’ vs Frank Sinatra

Contrary to what many believe, David Bowie’s early life was far from extraordinary. Before unleashing the iconic character of Major Tom upon the world, Bowie immersed himself in the creation of humble folk tracks, heavily influenced by the vibrant psychedelic movement of the swinging 60s. In the midst of financial struggles, he turned to songwriting as a means to make ends meet, until an unexpected encounter with none other than the legendary Frank Sinatra came knocking on his door, forever altering his trajectory.

Among the odd jobs Bowie took on in his pre-fame days, he found himself translating lyrics from various languages into English for popular tunes. Little did he know that one of these translated tracks, originally destined as “Even a Fool Learns to Love,” would suffer a crushing blow when the company he submitted it to rejected it outright. But fate had a cheeky surprise in store for Bowie—a familiar melody echoed on the airwaves, now transformed into Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” graced with new lyrics gifted by the talented Paul Anka to the legendary Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.

Stinging with a lingering sense of resentment, Bowie bided his time, waiting for the perfect moment to exact sweet revenge. It was during his later experimental phase, where he fearlessly pushed the boundaries of gender and genre, that Bowie seized the opportunity to borrow those familiar “My Way” chords and alchemize them into the enchanting odyssey we now know as “Life on Mars?” This captivating composition weaves a tale of a man yearning for a place outside the confines of time, desperately searching for a world in which he truly fits. Even as Bowie’s artistic vision remained unwavering throughout his illustrious career, he couldn’t resist expressing his gratitude with a whimsical smirk, leaving a mischievous inscription of “For Frankie” on the back cover of his magnum opus, Hunky Dory, forever leaving his mark on the cosmic tapestry of music.

John Lennon — ‘How Do You Sleep?’ vs Paul McCartney

The final chapter of The Beatles was marred by an unsightly feud, leaving a bitter aftertaste in its wake. As the dust settled on the crumbling empire of Apple Corps, the members of the once-unified ‘Fab Four’ embarked on individual journeys, with Paul McCartney entangled in legal disputes against his former comrades. Seeking solace in his solo career, McCartney released the album RAM, but John Lennon found himself discontented with what he discovered within its melodies.

In the opening track, ‘Too Many People,’ McCartney poured his thoughts onto paper, addressing those who preached certain ideologies. However, Lennon took offense, perceiving it as a direct strike aimed at his and Yoko Ono’s peaceful protests. With the first stone hurled by ‘The Cute One’, ‘The Intellectual One’ prepared his retaliatory blow, crafting a piece for his upcoming album Imagine that cut deep. While the album as a whole emanated a mellower vibe, one track stood out as a searing diss: ‘How Do You Sleep?’ – a poignant reflection on Lennon’s perception of McCartney’s artistry, seemingly reducing his entire body of work to a mere ‘Yesterday.’

The writing sessions became consumed by bitterness, so much so that even Ringo Starr, who contributed his drumming prowess to the track, felt compelled to intervene as a mediator. In an attempt to quell the harshness, he urged Lennon to reconsider his stance towards his former friend. And although Lennon and McCartney eventually reconciled, rekindling their friendship before Lennon’s tragic passing in 1980, the creation of ‘How Do You Sleep?’ serves as a poignant testament to the profound distance between them during those turbulent months. It remains a powerful battle cry, echoing the complexities and struggles that marked the twilight of The Beatles’ extraordinary journey.

Lynyrd Skynyrd — ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ vs Neil Young

The iconic country rock song, “Sweet Home Alabama,” is not just famous, but it also takes daring swings. Lynyrd Skynyrd targets former Governor George Wallace and legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young. Back in 1970, Neil Young released “Southern Man,” which highlighted the pain inflicted on Black people by White people during the slave trade. He furthered this message with his song “Alabama” two years later.

However, Skynyrd felt that Young’s songs unfairly blamed all Southerners for the actions of their ancestors. Being proud Southern natives themselves, they decided to respond. In “Sweet Home Alabama,” Skynyrd dedicates an entire verse to Young, calling him out by name. The verse concludes with the memorable line, “I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”

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