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"Life is too fucking short to play or hear Freebird."

There are songs so famous (or infamous) that they're universally adored (or reviled) in certain circles, constantly being requested (possibly to the point of annoyance) on the radio, at a concert or in a lounge. Of course, Small Reference Pools mean these tend to be the same songs across different genres. This is a Cyclic Trope, as time marches on and these songs go into and out of style.

Examples of Iconic Song Request include:


Film

  • Casablanca: "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'."
  • Wayne's World: The guitar store has a sign that says "No Stairway to Heaven".
    • Truth in Television. Lots of specialist guitar shops actually do have that sign.
    • The "No Stairway to Heaven" sign is parodied in the Discworld novel Soul Music, where a music shop is rushed by people who want to try guitars after hearing the protagonist perform. At the end, the owner hires a troll whose only job is to harm anyone who tries to play the song.
  • On Cars someone shouts for "Freebird" during Lightning McQueen's sponsors' appearance.

Live Action TV

  • If watching Live Action TV Sit Coms from The Sixties has taught anyone anything, it's that the drunk in the piano bar will always ask for "Melancholy Baby".
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Riker is giving a trombone concert and Troi insists that he play a fictional tune "Nightbird". He reluctantly agrees, and then is saved by a summons to the bridge.

Music

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird", of course. On the Modest Mouse live album Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again, when an audience member shouts for the band to play "Freebird," the lead singer Isaac Brock responds with this speech.
    • On the Bomb the Music Industry! album Album Minus Band is a song called FRRRREEEEEE BIIIIIIRRRRRD! FRRRREEEEEE BIIIIIIRD!!!!, which is about playing oft requested cover songs to bad crowds.
  • On his album Too Close For Comfort, comedian/folksinger Martin Pearson talks about drunks hassling him for requests (which he doesn't do). The funniest one is being asked to play "Tubular Bells" (Martin is a guitarist).
  • Billy Connolly has a song about being hassled to play the song "Ten Guitars".
  • Not quite music, but it's audio on tape, so: There's a recording of Bill Hicks being inexplicably harassed with this by a heckler. Bill owns him with a two-minute-long, borderline-psychotic rant about the inanity of this trope, then storms off stage and is later coaxed back on.
  • Do not ask Ryan Adams to play a Bryan Adams song. Especially "Summer Of 69".
  • In Brazil, the equivalent of "Freebird!" is "Toca Raul!
    • In Finland, the song requested is Paranoid
  • Comedian Sean Hughes used to shout "do Titanic Motives" at every Julian Cope gig he attended. He made the song title up, but allegedly Cope started to believe it was real and that he'd simply forgotten it.

Video Games

  • Guitar Hero: The audience is occasionally heard trolling your band with requests for Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird", but you actually do get to play "Freebird" as the final boss of Guitar Hero II.
    • Also in Guitar Hero II, one of the random loading screen messages says, "Remember, NO STAIRWAY!", possibly calling back to the Wayne's World example above. Or commenting on the fact that Harmonix had/has yet to license Led Zeppelin songs for Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Possibly even both.

Web Comics

Western Animation

Notes

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