Ten ridiculously captivating 'Valerie' songs

There was a recent list posted on the internet about "Mary" songs so we thought we would do one about Valeries.
Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson at the Brit wards
Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson at the Brit wards / JMEnternational/GettyImages
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I am not proud of this, but I have to own it. I am competitive. Sometimes to an unhealthy degree. So much so that when I read a list of the “ten best songs about Mary,” my first thought is not, “Hmm, let’s see what this intelligent music fan has to offer on the subject.” Instead, it’s “Damn – I was going to write one of those and mine would have been a hundred times better." You understand this is all purely hypothetical. It’s not as if I just read a “Mary” list and had that reaction.

But, if I had just read a “Mary” list, I suspect there are several directions in which I could go. I might just forget the whole thing and go back to the “iconic female vocalists who shaped modern music” piece I was working on. Yeah, right. I might do that.

I might just write my own “Mary” list anyway and see how it stacks up. But there would be some overlap with that hypothetical list that doesn’t exist. So I might find an offshoot – like, other versions of Mary. When you have Maria, Rosemary, Mary Jane, Mary Ann … at your disposal, that’s a fertile field. But as much as I would love to write about R. B. Greaves' marvelously patriarchal “Take a Letter, Maria,” I decided to go in yet another direction.

Ten songs that will make you never to forget the Valeries in your life

I’m a sucker for underdog stories, and if Mary and its sistren songs are the recognized champs in the name game, then I am going to prop up a plucky challenger. Yep – today we’re talking “Valeries.”

Who would have thought Valerie could compete with Mary? Mary is part and parcel of our cultural heritage. She had a little lamb. She was quite contrary. She is all over the bible.

Valerie, on the other hand, has three syllables, making it harder to fit into verse. However, in the world of rock and pop, Valerie can hold her own. Maybe not in terms of quantity. But quality. There are some excellent songs about Valerie.

And I’m not even talking about those one-off references like Valerie, who along with her friend Rose, screams for Maxwell’s release in “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Or the Valerie who Bob Dylan wants to say hello to in “Too Much of Nothing.” Or, best of all, the mysterious Valerie who invites Tania Saleh to a Lebanese party in “The Fan.” We’re talking about Valeries who are major players – if not the star, then a crucial part of the story.

So let’s see how the best Valerie songs stack up against the best of the Marys, hypothetical or otherwise.

NO. 10: “VINCE TAYLOR” by ADAM ANT (2013)

As rock & roll legends go, Vince Taylor is a pretty good one. The early rocker recorded “Brand New Cadillac” (later covered by the Clash on London Calling) and was at least part of the inspiration for David Bowie’s creation of Ziggy Stardust.

Adam Ant borrowed the character for a song on his wonderfully unfocused 2010 album Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter. Valerie only plays a supporting role in the story, but she still leaves a memorable impression. She was a French girl who gave a gold chain she had received from the title character to the singer.