Well-Known Songs About Underworld Crime

The Major League Baseball All-Star game has been completed, resulting in the American League’s 4-2 victory and home field advantage in the World Series. The local department stores have put away all of their baseball wares, replaced by aisles and aisles of school supplies.

The fact that both of these events just occurred indicates one stark truth. The summer of 2016 is drawing to a close. Although the great weather will depart with it, the fall has much to offer us beyond the lovely colors and football.

The new TV season begins in just over a month, meaning viewers can resume watching fresh episodes of perennial favorites and tune in to see which new shows might be enjoyable. Although two of my must watch sitcoms, Grandfathered and The Grinder, have not been renewed, there is one series I enjoyed last year that will last at least for a third season.

That series is called Underworld, Inc., and it airs on the National Geographic Channel. Each episode centers on a certain crime theme, activities such as prostitution, drugs, and smuggling.

People have always been intrigued by the world of the underground and, aside from films and TV, some of the best songs in music are centered on illegal activities. Here are nine of those tunes, covered by artists from the sixties through today.

Lil Cal’s Big Mistake by the Knack

This tune about a small-time crook who becomes a scapegoat comes from the power pop quartet’s third album Round Trip, which was more critically acclaimed than the debut that soared with “My Sharona.”

Tweeter and the Monkey Man by the Traveling Wilburys

Bob Dylan was the primary writer of this strange tale involving a transgender and a cop’s sister.

Gimme the Goods by Boz Scaggs

The huge hit “Lido Shuffle” could very likely make the list, but this track from Down Two Then Left digs further underground than the one about the guy who “missed the boat that day he left the shack.”

Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts by Bob Dylan

Murder, gambling, and smuggling are just three of the plots intertwined in this epic tale from Blood on the Tracks.

Kid Charlemagne by Steely Dan

“Clean this mess up or else we’ll all end up in jail, those test tubes and the scales, just get them all out of here,” sings Donald Fagen on this opening track from The Royal Scam.

Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress by the Hollies

The government is tracking the subject in the title, told by a man who right away admits, “Saturday night I went downtown, working for the F.B.I.”

Magneto and Titanium Man by Paul McCartney and Wings

The Venus and Mars album has been highly praised, but this light look at small time crooks has been too often overlooked.

Manuela Run by Toto

It is never revealed why the title character must flee, but the chorus warns that whatever he did will cause him to get shot in the back with his own gun.

Release by Aztec Camera

Roddy Frame was a mere teenager when he wrote this ballad for the band’s debut album High Land Hard Rain, but the song reveals a mature understanding of the appreciation of freedom after having committed an indiscretion.