Top 10 Leg Songs
Short of references to eye color, perhaps no other body part has had as much classic rock prose committed to it as the leg – proof positive that more rockers’ minds live in the proverbial basement than in the penthouse, so to speak. Now, now, why don’t you hear us out before ‘legging it’ out of here, because the music selected for our definitive list of Top 10 Leg Songs is really entirely above board – even if the motivations of those compiling them are not.
Why don’t we kick off our list (‘kick,’ get it?) with this direct but crafty album track off Bob Seger’s much loved 1980 LP, ‘Against the Wind’? Here’s an album that pretty much flip-flops between lust and love from song to song: first comes the undisguised raunch of ‘The Horizontal Bop,’ then the touching ‘You'll Accomp'ny Me,’ then ‘Her Strut,’ etc. Clearly, Bob was quite the Jeckyll and Hyde when it came to romance, but then aren’t we all?
Clap along, why don’t you, to this uninhibited celebration of teen hop mating dances (legs required) set to a ‘50s rockabilly framework and including guitar runs plucked emphatically by an 18-year-old Eric Clapton. In fact, ‘Honey in Your Hips’ (the B-side to a cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boom Boom’) was one of The Yardbirds’ first original compositions, and partly responsible – legend has it – for driving blues purist Clapton out the backyard door towards John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, even prior to its release in early 1966.
This 1991 single is perhaps best remembered for its music video, which serendipitously chronicled Mellencamp’s flirtatious courtship of supermodel Elaine Irwin, fated to become Mrs. John Mellencamp soon thereafter. In other words, here’s one selection for our list of Top 10 Leg Songs that actually relates – albeit tenuously – to family bliss, rather than purely carnal desires. At least that’s what that sly dog, Mellencamp, wants you to believe.
Not to overlook ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’s’ famous “American thighs,” but how could we resist calling overdue attention to ‘Shake a Leg’: perhaps the most criminally underrated song on 1980’s pretty much perfect ‘Back in Black’ album. Arguably the heaviest song in AC/DC’s entire canon (culminating in Angus Young’s most devastating guitar solo), ‘Shake a Leg’ also comes dripping with impure thoughts and juvenile delinquency – as evidenced by couplets like “Magazines, wet dreams, dirty women on machines for me; Big licks, skin flicks, tricky dick's are my chemistry.”
There’s no way we’d leave the Stones off this list of classic rock’s Top 10 Leg Songs (Keith carries a knife, you know?), and our chosen leg-related culprit is ‘Exile on Main St.’s’ ‘Shake Your Hips’ – a playful cover of Slim Harpo’s 1966 original. Cut by the band at the urging of avowed Harpo fanatic, Mick Jagger (as notorious a ‘leg man’ as rock and roll ever produced, come to think of it), this was actually the Stones’ second Slim cover, having already shaken their hips through “I'm A King Bee” on their very first album.
Clearly, you messed with Freddie Mercury at your own peril, because never has a band given its manager his marching orders in a song as caustic as this. The opening tirade off Queen’s career watershed, ‘A Night at the Opera’ LP, ‘Death on Two Legs’ scathingly pillories Queen’s former manager, Norman Sheffield (err, allegedly), via this spine tingling mélange of rococo piano, searing guitar squeals, ‘Jaws’-like power chords, and barbed insults from Freddie’s forked tongue – e.g. “Kill joy! Bad guy! Big talking small fry! Was the fin on your back part of the deal? But now you can kiss my ass goodbye!” SLAP!
With this lascivious little classic off just their second album, 1974’s ‘Get Your Wings,’ Aerosmith figuratively earned their ‘ready for prime time’ diplomas, graduating from semi-glam boys (and New York Dolls doppelgangers) to seasoned hard rock men about town. ‘Lord of the Thighs’ comes swaggering into view on Joey Kramer’s iconic drum beat before Steven Tyler starts slobbering his come-hither lyrics all over the object of his affection; aided and abetted all the way by Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s slippery guitar licks and solos, which clearly can’t keep their hands to themselves.
Leave it to Mr. Literal himself, Rod Stewart, to chortle his way into our top three with this unabashed paean to shapely walking sticks, backed by a music video so direct, not even Rod and his backing band managed to keep straight faces while shooting it (see below). Of course, given its release on 1977’s ‘Foot Loose and Fancy Free’ album, ‘Hot Legs’s,’clip was obviously well ahead of MTV and their – ahem! – discerning critical eye for music video artistry. NOT!
One word says it all here. ZZ Top had already built a decade-long career around hot rods, birds and, most importantly, the blues, by the time they coalesced their appreciation of shapely female appendages into ‘Legs,’ off 1983’s mega-platinum ‘Eliminator’ album. And a finer choice for our Top 10 Leg Songs list is hard to imagine – controversial synthesizer embellishments and all – since Misters Gibbons, Hill and Beard managed to interpret the subject with enough humor and naïve charm on its accompanying music video that almost everyone watching overlooked the song’s lecherous underpinnings.
Believe us, settling on a winner for our list of Top 10 Leg Songs among so many worthy candidates was no picnic, but we simply couldn’t pass on Van Halen’s ‘Drop Dead Legs’ once it started knocking around our empty heads. But can you really blame us? Between Diamond Dave’s formidable reputation as the consummate leg man (it was he, after all, who penned the classic lyric: “I like the way the line runs up the back of those stockings”for 1980’s ‘Everybody Wants Some!!!’) and Edward Van Halen’s unforgettable riffs (which wobble around just like long legs atop platform heels), ‘Drop Dead Legs’ perfectly brings the impure thoughts behind this Top 10 list to vivid Technicolor.