Immigration continues to be one of the hot political topics of the year, in spite of the irony of the country’s foundation. The very men who forged our Constitution were immigrants, as we all are other than the Native Americans who inhabited the land before the explorers arrived.
The most famous of the immigrants is of course Christopher Columbus, an Italian who stumbled upon the New World while sailing under Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. He has gained such renown that he has numerous cities named in his honor, as well as his own holiday.
Columbus has also been mentioned in dozens of songs, including Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream and Loudon Wainwright’s Kings and Queens. British new wave artist Graham Parker, a contemporary of Elvis Costello and the Police, even named an entire album after the explorer, called Goodbye Columbus.
Here are ten other famous explorers who have been referenced in popular songs by well-known artists.
Ponce DeLeon by Hall and Oates
This Spanish voyager appears in Ennui On the Mountain from the duo’s debut album.
Cortez the Killer by Neil Young
The man who conquered the Aztecs is the subject of this song from Zuma, a very underrated album from the early seventies.
Doctor Livingstone, I Presume by the Moody Blues
Famously partnering with Henry Clark to examine Africa, this European is the subject of a song from the British band’s In Search of the Lost Chord.
Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors
The first man to sail around the world provides the main character on a track from the alternative group’s 2012 album of the same name.
Francis Drake by Sammy Hagar
Sailin‘ is the track that alludes to the British explorer, and the album Lite Roast is the veteran rocker’s seventeenth effort.
Lewis and Clark by C.W. McCall
Two of the first guys to explore the Mississippi region have the same last names as the two men the Convoy singer writes about in this tune.
Henry Hudson by Nico
Dream of Exile makes an appropriate title for an album that mentions an explorer, who serves as the title for this song.
De Soto De Son by Animal Collective
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is the reference to the title for this track from Campfire Songs.
Sir Walter Raleigh by The Beatles
“I’m So Tired” groans John Lennon on this classic from the White Album, after which he curses the title character for having discovered tobacco.
Marco Polo by Bow Wow
The most famous Asian explorer serves as the title to a song by the eighties Japanese rock band, who on this song are talking more about the game than the man.