A R T I C L E
10 Songs About Fish
by Ian Duggan
It’s summer time! At least here down here in the southern hemisphere. So some of you might be off for a spot of fishing. Or perhaps you simply like to watch fish swimming around in an aquarium. Alternatively, you might just enjoy the pagan symbolism. Regardless, it is Christmas, which is a time to make lists. Not so much a Top 10, we look at ten of our favourite songs about fish and fishing!
1. Trout Fishin’ by Koi Division
Trout Fishin’ is a song by California’s ‘Koi Division’, self-described as “the only Fish Goth Joy Division parody cover band that matters”. ‘Trout Fishin’ parodies ‘Transmission’, and features wonderful lyrics such as “Fishpoles with strong lines; Luring in the trout; Gutting them for dinner; Writhing on the boooooooaaaaatttt”. We were lucky enough to interview them in September, which you can read -> here <-
2. Fish Song by Headless Chickens
Off their debut album ‘Stunt Clown’, Fish Song was quite different from any Headless Chickens song that followed it. One of a surprisingly large number of songs about fish to come out on New Zealand’s Flying Nun label, this is probably my favourite! The song poses the question, how would you treat me if I was a fish (or a human, for that matter)?
3. Sammy the Salmon by The Chemical Brothers
A vastly different genre from other songs in this list, and one of the most educational. It tells us at the start, “Today we're gonna teach you some fun facts about salmon and a brand new dance”, and we get to hear all about their migrations. Worthy of a place based on that alone, but it has great an excellent video to go with it.
4. Fish Eye by Bailter Space
Another New Zealand band, another song about fish. Is this song about fish? I can’t tell, but it is called Fish Eye, so… It’s the opening track to their 1989 album ‘Tanker’. According to Wikipedia, the band were once described as "The Sonic Youth of the Southern Hemisphere".
5. The Fish That Played the Ponies by King Missile
A modern-day fable about a fish, the king of the fish, who was hungry for power. “He was a big fat pig of a fish”. What happened to the fish? You just need to listen. Off the wonderful 1990 album ‘Mystical Shit’, which also gave us the songs ‘Jesus Was Way Cool’, ‘How To Remember Your Dreams’ and ‘Cheesecake Truck’.
6. Fish by The Clean
What’s it about? Hard to tell given it is an instrumental! But it is called ‘Fish’. Off their 1982 EP ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good, So-so Sounds So-so, Bad Sounds Bad, Rotten Sounds Rotten’, you can also find a cover by country singer Gray Bartlett on the ‘God Save The Clean’ tribute album.
7. Give Me Back My Man by B52s
Not the most obvious of songs among the list, the B52s kindly offer; “I'll give you fish; I'll give you candy; I'll give you everything I have in my hand”. It was the second single from their 1980 ‘Wild Planet’ album.
8. Fish Tails by The 3Ds
Off their 1990 debut EP ‘Fish Tales’, the 3Ds were once regular visitors to Hamilton. Even yet another New Zealand song about fish, and we haven’t even included Jean Paul Sartre Experience’s ‘Fish in the Sea’ or Head Like Hole’s ‘Fish Across Face’.
9. John the Fisherman by Primus
The debut single by Primus, and one of several songs about fish they released over their career. The song is possibly best known by many people for appearing in ‘Guitar Hero II’.
10. KLF – Justified and Ancient
Featuring the lead vocals of country singer Tammy Wynette, this 1991 song by British band the KLF reached number 1 in New Zealand. Probably best remembered for the lyrics “They're Justified, and they're Ancient, and they drive an ice cream van”, or “All bound for Mu Mu Land”. But they also sing about “Fishing in the rivers of life”.
Honourable mention: This doesn’t actually mention fish, but is an alternative video to New Order’s Blue Monday. Featuring a weather reporter and a fish. Again, and again, and again...