Chickens don’t occupy the same spot as dogs in the popular consciousness. Even so, they have played an integral role in the human experience, which makes sense because they have been with us for such a long time.
Specifically, the latest research shows Southeast Asian farmers brought them into existence by domesticating the red junglefowl around 3,500 years ago.
Since then, chickens have become one of the most common domesticated animals on the planet. Thanks to that, a surprising number of artists have released songs about chickens.
These aren’t always about literal chickens, but even the use of their metaphorical counterparts says much about their impact on our culture.
Here are ten awesome songs about chickens:
10. “The Chicken Song” – Spitting Image
Spitting Image was a British puppet show popular in the 1980s. Interested individuals might recognize it because of the puppets of celebrities and other public figures, which were used to excellent effect in the music video for Genesis’s “Land of Confusion.”
That said, Spitting Image was surprisingly musical in other respects. For instance, it parodied then-contemporary summer songs by releasing “The Chicken Song,” which proved so popular that it reached the top of the charts in the United Kingdom.
9. “The Chicken Dance” – Werner Thomas
Werner Thomas is the accordionist who came up with “The Duck Song,” which might be better known to interested individuals as “The Chicken Song.” It took quite some time for this piece of music to become popular.
For context, Thomas started performing it in restaurants and other establishments in the 1950s and 1960s. “The Chicken Song” didn’t get turned into a record until 1970. Even then, it failed to catch on until the early 1980s.
8. “Chicken Payback” – The Bees
“Chicken Payback” comes from The Bees’ second studio album in 2004. It is a fun, happy-sounding song. However, listeners often interpret it as a call for people to stop animal cruelty.
As for why The Bees would call for this, well, it is no secret that factory farming leads to a very unpleasant experience for chickens. One example is their widespread debeaking, which is necessary because they can become aggressive to the point of becoming cannibalistic when packed together into excessively close confines.
7. “Happy Like a Chicken With His Head Cut Off” – Eric Hutchinson
Generally speaking, we have become disconnected from our sources of food. Despite this, the popular consciousness retains bits and scraps of that knowledge.
The title of this song refers to one such example, though it is metaphorical rather than literal. Eric Hutchinson is mulling over the complicated effects of antidepressants on his life, which can be relatable to everyone undergoing a challenging situation to some extent.
6. “Dixie Chicken” – Little Feat
“Dixie Chicken” is an amusing song from 1973. In it, the viewpoint character falls head-over-heels in love with a woman. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out because she runs off with a guitar player.
The funniest part is when the viewpoint character discovers his fellow pub-goers know the same woman well enough to sing her song, meaning every one of them has had a similar experience with her.
5. “Chicken and Biscuits” – Colt Ford
Chicken and biscuits might not be the healthiest options out there. However, they are much beloved for good reasons, meaning they have more than earned their reputation as comfort foods.
Here, Colt Ford uses chicken and biscuits as a cute, easy-to-understand way of expressing his infatuation with his significant other. This is about as straightforward as it gets, which is why it works so well.
4. “All Birds Look Like Chicken to Me” – Sweet Papa Stovepipe
Sweet Papa Stovepipe was a nickname for a street singer named McKinley Peebles. There is speculation that he picked up the nickname because he liked to wear a tophat. Unfortunately, we know so little about the man that we can’t be sure. Regardless, “All Birds Look Like Chicken to Me” is exactly what it sounds like. It is an excellent example of the kind of songs that black musicians would perform at medicine shows, which were touring acts that offered free entertainment between attempts to sell miraculous cure-alls of dubious effectiveness.
3. “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” – Louis Jordan
“Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” might be the most famous song on this list. That is because Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five released a song that stayed at the top of the Billboard Rhythm and Blues Records Chart for 17 weeks.
Moreover, it did well with general listeners, as shown by its reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100. Interested individuals might also be familiar with the song’s flip side, “Let the Good Times Roll,” which is legendary in its own right.
2. “Chicken Farm” – Dead Kennedys
War has ugly consequences reaching far into the future. The Dead Kennedys’ “Chicken Farm” describes a Vietnamese boy who gets blown up by an undetonated bomb while scavenging for survival at the titular location.
One could interpret it in a more general sense. However, most people interpret it more straightforwardly, meaning it is a reminder of the Vietnam War.
1. “The Chicken in Black” – Johnny Cash
“The Chicken in Black” isn’t the kind of song one would expect from Johnny Cash. That is because its lyrics paint a very silly, very fantastical story. In it, Cash learns that his body has outgrown his brain.
As a result, he gets a brain transplant from a bank robber while his old brain is transplanted into a chicken. Thanks to this, his singing career sees issues because of his compulsions to rob people, while the chicken lands a ten-year record deal.
People have interpreted it in many ways. Whatever the truth of things, “The Chicken in Black” is fun enough to make it worth remembering.
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