Photo: Courtesy of ATO Records
Pittsburgh pops up in a lot of music, and not just from native acts like Wiz Khalifa and the late Mac Miller. While the city itself has appeared in songs from "Living in American" by James Brown to “Ode To Pittsburgh” By Loudon Wainwright III, some musicians have focused specifically on celebrities from the area. Pittsburgh City Paper
found a few rock songs that pay tribute to artists, actors, and, in one instance, a famous football player who grew up here.
- MJ Lenderman
"My daddy saw Dan Marino at a Harris Teeter in South Carolina by the shore." Thus begins "Dan Marino," a track from Asheville-based solo artist MJ Lenderman's 2022 album Boat Songs
. The grungy, country western-tinged tune recounts a chance encounter with the former Miami Dolphins quarterback who originally grew up in Pittsburgh, and whose name still graces local landmarks (see: Dan Marino Field in Oakland).
Within a lines, the song goes from Marino seemingly missing his glory days after seeing Tom Brady on a box of Wheaties, only to recover when he goes out on a boat and sees — what else? — dolphins. "But I think big Dan will be alright, for he’s a hall of famer," Lenderman sings, lending a strangely reassuring, comforting tone to the song.
- David Bowie
The late Pittsburgh-born pop artist got his own track on Bowie's iconic 1971 album Hunky Dory
. With jangly acoustic guitar and stripped-down percussion, listeners are treated to a more cynical view of Warhol, with Bowie singing lyrics like, "
Dress my friends up just for show, see them as they really are."
The song has developed a bit of a reputation over the decades, with the U.K. magazine, Far Out,
pointing out how Warhol disliked Bowie's ode. “I took the song to The Factory when I first came to America and played it to him,” Bowie later recalled, referring to Warhol's famous New York City studio. “And he hated it. Loathed it. He went ‘Oh, uh-huh, okay…’ then just walked away." Yikes.
Pittsburgh seems to produce delightfully weird actors (see also Michael Keaton, who will come up later in this piece), with Goldblum being the king of this strange breed. Mattiel, an indie duo based out of Atlanta, Ga., declared their love for the Jurassic Park
actor and #daddy heartthrob with a track off their 2022 album Georgia Gothic
. "He came and met me in the bathroom, little like a younger Jeff Goldblum," sings lead vocalist Mattiel Brown, only to compare the unnamed subject to Ichabod Crane, her "Sleepy Hollow baby standing in the rain."
“Well, my crush on Jeff Goldblum is very real,” Brown says on the website for Georgia Gothic
's label, ATO Records
. “He inspired the words — but this is more of a dream where a Jeff look-a-like meets me in a bathroom.”
Not sure how Goldblum, a reedy gentleman who clocks in at 6' 4", would feel about being in the same camp as Crane but, clearly, Mattiel has a type, and we support it.
- Rozwell Kid
The rock band Rozwell Kid
might be based in West Virginia, but their song about Keaton makes for a perfect tribute to the Pittsburgh native who went from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
to the big screen. The track off their 2017 album Precious Art
follows two young friends whose love for Keaton's Batman
movies leads to fantasies about finding the actor's house. "You are out in Hollywood, we are leaving home for good, and with my Walkman I am gonna walk, man, straight to your doorbell and ring it and say how great you are," sings Jordan Hudkins, his vocals boosted by guitars, drums, and synths reminiscent of 1990s power pop.
Do you have a favorite song about a Pittsburgh celebrity? Let us know at email@example.com.