It's the world's oldest profession. Since we all know hookers have been around since the beginning of time, it probably also slowly dawns on us that these ladies also have probably been "inspiring" songwriters for as long as there have been songs. Let's take a look at the Top Ten List -okay Top Eight List- of "classic" (and I use the term loosely- lol!) songs about prostitutes.
1) “Killer Queen" by Queen.
Written by queen's immortal front man, Freddie Mercury, this 1975 song reached number two on the British charts. It featured two pianos, two bass guitars, and a four part vocal harmony. This song was performed as part of Queen's A Night at the Opera tour in a medley following Mercury's brilliant “Bohemian Rhapsody.” According to Mercury, the song is about "a high class call girl".
2) “Roxanne" by the Police.
Sting, the Police's lead singer, wrote “Roxanne” in October of 1977. It was inspired by the prostitutes he saw near the band's seedy hotel in Paris, France. They were staying there to perform at the Nashville club. The song's title is taken from the classic play Cyrano de Bergerac, because its poster was hanging in the hotel's foyer.
“Roxanne” is #398 on Rolling Stones' list of the 500 greatest songs of all-time. The song is featured on every one of the Police's “Greatest Hits" albums.
Possibly the most famous version of “Roxanne" is performed by Eddie Murphy in his film debut in the movie 48 hours (1982). Without question, one of the greatest movie debuts in cinema history.
3) “House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals.
“House of the Rising Sun" is the most famous song by Eric Burdon and the Animals (but maybe not their best; try listening to Eric sing “Monterey" if you want to get an idea of what a brilliant singer he is). Eric Burdon is one of the greatest voices in the history of rock music.
“House of the Rising Sun" is generally agreed to be about a house of ill repute. However, it's meaning has also been interpreted to be, alternately, a jail, a slave plantation, and a specific establishment in New Orleans. According to the Animals themselves, the song was an old English folk song emigrants brought to America. They claim it is actually about a brothel in Soho, not New Orleans.
A definite rock classic, #123 on Rolling Stones' list of the 500 greatest songs of all-time. “House of the Rising Sun" was recorded in one take on May 18, 1964.
4) “Island Girl" by Elton John.
A 1975 #1 hit for one of rock's greatest singers and composers (along with partner Bernie Taupin). This song is about a New York hooker (of questionable gender) who a businessman wants to bring with him to Jamaica. “She's a big girl standing six foot three/ turning tricks for the dudes in the big city" seem to be particularly pointed lyrics.
But the song was released before Elton John had officially "come out" and may, indeed, refer to a male prostitute. Often, in gay circles, gay men will refer to their male peers as "she" or "girl.”
5) “Bad Girls" by Donna Summer.
A #1 hit for the disco queen of the late 70's and early '80’s, it was released on Donna's triple-platinum album Bad Girls.
Incidentally, the album is possibly the most "hooker-centric" album ever released. Besides “Bad Girls" obvious hooker connotation, the album contained the songs “Hot Stuff" and “She Works Hard for the Money.” The album's cover art shows Donna standing under a red street lamp.
6) “Family Man" by Hall and Oates.
This one surprised me the most and caught me off guard. It shouldn't really have, the lyrics are fairly upfront, it is just such a sweet, seemingly innocent song. This song by Daryl Hall and John Oates is about a chance meeting between a married man and a prostitute. The married man is not interested in having sex with her as he has a wife and family. She lowers her price and flirts, he is actually tempted, but by the time he is ready to succumb, she has already gone.
The song was actually written by British musician Mike Oldfield and appears on his 1982 album <>Five Miles Out. It was also issued as single and only made it to number 45 on the British charts. The Hall and Oates version was an international hit.
7) “Honky Tonk Woman" by the Rolling Stones.
Like so many of the Stones songs, this one has highly suggestive lyrics. But Mick Jagger and Keith Richards carefully concealed the sexuality of the song, as in the lyric "she blew my nose and then she blew my mind.” This lyric referred to cocaine and oral sex, but it wasn't clear enough for the BBC to ban the song.
During Stones concerts, Mick Jagger liked to introduce “Honky Tonk Woman" as "a song for all whores in the audience.”.
8) “Maggie Mae" by the Beatles.
Okay granted- this is hardly a "beautiful song,” but heck, it's the Beatles. So now i have given you the answer to great Beatles bar bet: “Which Beatles song was about a prostitute?" Many falsely believe Paul's “Can't Buy Me Love" is the correct answer, but no, it is “Maggie Mae.”
Of course, this is not a Beatles composition, but it is sung by John Lennon in the Beatles' final film Let It Be (1970) and is featured on the album of the same name. The song is actually spelled “Maggie May" and is an old Liverpool drinking song. “Maggie Mae" was a staple of the Quarrymen, the original group John Lennon formed in the mid-1950's.
On the Let It Be album, the song's arrangement is credited to all four Beatles. Cleverly, this enabled each of the band members to receive the "writers" share of the publishing income as "arrangers,” since the song was in public domain. The Beatles released version is actually only a brief snippet of the full “Maggie Mae.” Clocking in at just 40 seconds, this is the second shortest Beatles song ever released (only “Her Majesty" at 23 seconds from the Abbey Road album of 1969 is shorter).