Sometimes bands get accused of writing the same song over and over. But what if it's a really good song, worthy of being used again in some form?

In some cases, the point of repurposing older material is to deliberately hark back to a previous era of a band or artist. Take Robert Plant's "Tall Cool One," for example. Released in 1988, it used bits of Led Zeppelin songs from years earlier and was specifically meant to acknowledge Plant's past.

Other times, it works as a sort of reprise. Bob Dylan's 1974 album, Planet Waves, includes not one but two versions of "Forever Young" — the exact same song, recorded in entirely different ways and placed on separate sides of the album.

Whatever the reason, it can be exciting to hear something familiar recycled into something new. We're taking a look at  24 Times Artists Reused Their Own Material.

1. "Trust Fund Baby," Sammy Hagar (2019)
First Used: "I Got the Fire," Montrose (1974)

Sammy Hagar was there in the formative days of Montrose, back in the early '70s. Over 40 years later, he managed to incorporate that period of his life into his new music, borrowing the guitar riff used on 1974's "I Got the Fire," placing it at the top of 2019's "Trust Fund Baby" and crediting Ronnie Montrose, the riff's original writer.


2. "Top of the World," Van Halen (1991)
First Used: "Jump," Van Halen (1983)

Who better to artistically steal from than yourself? Cue up Van Halen's 1991 song "Top of the World" and you'll notice the beginning riff is the same one used at the end of their 1983 track "Jump." The former song wasn't quite as successful as the latter, but it was still a Top 30 hit.


3. "Tall Cool One," Robert Plant (1988)
First Used: Various Led Zeppelin Songs

For a number of years, Robert Plant purposely avoided his musical past — Led Zeppelin ended in 1980, and Plant was focused on building his own solo career. But then, in 1986, the Beastie Boys sampled three Led Zeppelin songs on their debut album, Licensed to Ill. Plant was intrigued. “And I thought, ‘Well that’s a good idea.’ You can’t get a better drum sound," he said in a 2020 episode of his Digging Deep podcast. So Plant decided to sample, well, himself, on 1988's "Tall Cool One," using Led Zeppelin songs like "Black Dog," "Dazed and Confused," "Whole Lotta Love," "The Ocean" and "Custard Pie."


4. "It's a Boy," The Who (1969)
First Used: "Glow Girl," The Who (1967)

Not to be confused with their 1966 song "I'm a Boy, "It's a Boy" appeared on the Who's landmark Tommy album in 1969. But like a few other songs on the LP, it had been upcycled from a previously written composition, in this case a song called "Glow Girl," an outtake from 1967's The Who Sell Out.


5. "All You Need Is Love," The Beatles (1967)
First Used: "She Loves You," The Beatles (1963)

It's easy to forget that not only did the Beatles conquer the world with their music, but they did so in less than a decade. By the latter half of the '60s, the Fab Four had changed a great deal from when they'd first began, but every so often hints of their previous work would appear in new songs. Perhaps the best example of this is in 1967's "All You Need Is Love," in which Paul McCartney can be heard toward the end of the track singing part of the chorus to 1963's "She Loves You."


6. "U Get Me High," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2014)
First Used: "Don't Fade on Me," Tom Petty (1994)

Sometimes, when you write a certain lyric, it sticks with you. And sometimes, it finds a new home two decades later. Such was the case with one of Tom Petty's lines: "I remember feeling this way / You can lose it without knowing." Petty first used it in 1994's "Don't Fade on Me," (Wildflowers) and then again in 2014's "U Get Me High" (Hypnotic Eye).


7. "Destroyer," The Kinks (1981)
First Used: "All Day and All of the Night," The Kinks (1964)

The Kinks' "Destroyer" harks back to a couple of their previous hits. One of them is "Lola," who makes a reappearance in the song's lyrics. The other is "All Day and All of the Night," the riff from which can be heard again.


8. "Bleed to Love Her," Fleetwood Mac (1997)
First Used: "You Do or You Don't," Lindsey Buckingham (1992)

The cool thing about being a solo artist and being a member of a band is that sometimes you can get away with reusing some of your own material. This is what Lindsey Buckingham did in the '90s. He took a verse he used in a 1992 solo song of his titled "You Do or You Don't" — "Somebody's got to see this through / All the world is laughing at you / Somebody's got to sacrifice / If this whole thing's gonna turn out right" — and stuck it into Fleetwood Mac's 1997 song "Bleed to Love Her."


9. "Fly Like an Eagle," Steve Miller Band (1976)
First Used: "My Dark Hour," Steve Miller Band (1969)

In May 1969, not long after the Beatles performed their very last public show, Paul McCartney found himself in the studio with Steve Miller, Reportedly worked up from an argument with his bandmates, McCartney felt the need to "thrash something, to get it out of my system." He wound up drumming on a song called "My Dark Hour," while Miller handled all the other instruments and vocals. Seven years later, Miller reused the guitar riff from the song for his hit "Fly Like an Eagle."


10. "Somewhere They Can't Find Me," Simon and Garfunkel (1966)
First Used: "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.," Simon and Garfunkel (1964)

If some of the words to Simon and Garfunkel's "Somewhere They Can't Find Me," sound familiar to you — particularly the first verse — that's because you might have heard them first in 1964's "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." "I can hear the soft breathing of the girl that I love / As she lies here beside me, asleep with the night."


11. "Forever Young," Bob Dylan (1974)
First Used: "Forever Young," Bob Dylan (1974)

Not only did Bob Dylan reuse the exact same song twice on one album, he did it back to back. After cutting two versions of "Forever Young," one fast and one slow, Dylan ultimately chose to include both on 1974's Planet Waves, one right after the other. "I been carrying this song around in my head for five years and I never wrote it down," he reportedly told his producer Rob Fabroni at the time, "and now I come to record it I just can't decide how to do it."


12. "Angels," David Byrne (1994)
First Used: "Once in a Lifetime," Talking Heads (1980)

Listening to David Byrne's 1994 song "Angels," you may find yourself with an unshakeable feeling of deja vu. That's because Byrne essentially reused the bass part and the vocal phrasing from Talking Heads' iconic "Once in a Lifetime." ("Angels" was a successful single, reaching No. 24 on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks chart.)


13. "Johnny 99," Bruce Springsteen (1982)
First Used: "Atlantic City," Bruce Springsteen (1982)

When Bruce Springsteen says he's broke, he means it. He used the same line twice on the same album, 1982's Nebraska. "I got the kind of debts that no honest man can pay," he sings in "Atlantic City." Then he sings the line again nearly verbatim in the song that follows, "Johnny 99."


14. "Red Money," David Bowie (1979)
First Used: "Sister Midnight," Iggy Pop (1977)

In 1977, Iggy Pop released his debut solo album, The Idiot. Every single one of its eight tracks credited David Bowie, who was also the LP's producer, as a co-writer. Three years later, the beginning track from The Idiot, "Sister Midnight," would be recycled into something new for Bowie himself. "'Red Money' [from 1979's Lodger] is a blatant copy of Iggy Pop’s ‘Sister Midnight,’" producer Tony Visconti said for A New Career in a New Town (1977–1982), "where we took off his vocals, added more guitars and wrote an entirely different song over it..."


15. "Little Queenie," Chuck Berry (1959)
First Used: "Run Rudolph Run," Chuck Berry (1958)

Chuck Berry released his Christmas classic, "Run Rudolph Run" in 1958, and it went to No. 69. The same year, he recorded "Little Queenie," which used essentially the same arrangement and melody.


16. "Train of Love," Neil Young (1994)
First Used: "Western Hero," Neil Young (1994)

Like Springsteen, Neil Young also took an opportunity to record a reprisal of sorts on 1994's Sleeping With Angels. "Western Hero" appears first on the album, followed several tracks later by "Train of Love" — it's the same song, but with different lyrics.


17. "Rust," Echo and the Bunnymen (1999)
First Used: "Ribbons and Chains," Ian McCulloch (1992)

Is it really stealing if you do so from yourself? In 1999, Echo and the Bunnymen released a single called "Rust," and it went to No. 22 in the U.K. — their last Top 40 hit in their home country. But the track actually borrowed its melody and chorus from a solo song Ian McCulloch released in 1992, "Ribbons and Chains."


18. "Carry On," Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)
First Used: "Questions," Buffalo Springfield (1968)

As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were nearing the end of sessions for 1970's Deja Vu, they realized they didn't have a strong opening number. So Stephen Stills dug into his archive and pulled out "Questions," a song he'd written and recorded with Buffalo Springfield for their 1968 album, Last Time Around. He pulled a few lyrics and other elements from it and created "Carry On."


19. "Jealous Guy," John Lennon (1971)
First Used: "Child of Nature," John Lennon (1968)

"['Mother Nature’s Son'] was from a lecture of Maharishi where he was talking about nature," John Lennon explained in 1980, referring to the 1968 song that appeared on the White Album, "and I had a piece called 'I'm Just a Child of Nature,' which turned into 'Jealous Guy' years later. Both inspired from the same lecture of Maharishi."


20. "Lyra," Kate Bush (2007)
First Used: "Out of the Storm," Kate Bush (2000)

In 1999, Kate Bush penned a song called "Out of the Storm," which was intended for use in the 2000 film Dinosaur. But the story goes that preview audiences didn't respond well to the song and when Bush was asked to rewrite it, she declined. She saved it though, and used its intro for an entirely different soundtrack song years later, "Lyra," which appeared in 2007's The Golden Compass.


21. "Illusions," Keith Richards (2015)
First Used: "Baby Break It Down," The Rolling Stones (1994)

The thing about Keith Richards is that with decades of experience, he has figured out what works and what doesn't so much, And he's not afraid to revisit something that works. In his 2015 solo song, "Illusions," he reused the central riff the Rolling Stones used on 1994's "Baby Break It Down."


22. "Paint a Vulgar Picture," The Smiths (1987)
First Used: "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby," The Smiths (1987)

In February of 1987, the Smiths included a song titled "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" on their album The World Won't Listen, a very popular compilation LP. Roughly seven months later, that phrase appeared again in a song of theirs titled "Paint a Vulgar Picture:" "And when it fails to recoup? / Well, maybe you just haven't earned it yet, baby."


23. "Smart Girls," Brian Wilson (1991)
First Used: Various Beach Boys Songs

Like the Kinks above, Brian Wilson took an opportunity in 1991 to incorporate some old hits into a new song. He took bits of Beach Boys songs like "I Get Around," "When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)," "Fun, Fun, Fun" and more and made it into one incredibly eclectic "rap" track.


24. "Seven Days," Sting (1993)
First Used: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," The Police (1981) and "O My God" (1983)

Sting has reused parts of songs a handful of times over the years. One of the strongest examples was in his 1993 solo song "Seven Days," in which he quotes a line that has appeared more than once in the Police's catalog. "It's a big enough umbrella / But it's always me that ends up getting wet," he sings. This same line can be found in 1981's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and 1983's "O My God."

Artists Who Re-Recorded Their Music

Sometimes a second (or third or fourth) attempt is necessary.

Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

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