20 Songs About Court

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Many songwriters have written songs about court for a variety of different reasons. Whether they’re telling a story about justice or explaining their own situation in a courtroom, musicians have long referenced court in songs!

Below, we’ve listed 20 great songs about court from a variety of different artists!

1. “The Trial” by Pink Floyd

In Pink Floyd’s 1979 song “The Trial”, which appears on their iconic album The Wall, a trial in a court takes place. In this song, we are once again following the narrator we’ve followed through the rest of The Wall. Now, he is on trial and we hear from different witnesses about this man.

The man himself believes that he is crazy — and everybody else seemingly agrees. This iconic song, with its setup in a courtroom, isn’t one to miss.

2. “A Church, A Courtroom and Then Goodbye” by Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline’s 1955 song “A Church, A Courtroom and Then Goodbye” follows a relationship. At the beginning of the song, Cline sings about how they are in a church together, getting married.

But then, in the next scene, she sings about how they are in a courtroom. She sings the lyrics, “The next scene was a crowded courtroom / And like strangers we sat side by side / Then I heard the judge make his decision / And no longer were we man and wife”.

The two have divorced. Therefore, this song details the entire story of this couple — a story that the court clerk writes down in the record!

3. “Kangaroo Court” by Capital Cities

Capital Cities released the song “Kangaroo Court” on their 2013 album In the Tidal Wave of Mystery. In this song, we follow the story of a kangaroo court, rather than a real courtroom.

A kangaroo court is a makeshift court that is mob operated, rather than conducted by a real court. These courts can often be rigged or controlled so that the defendant is always found guilty, even if they aren’t. Thus, this song references a kangaroo court, often in regards to just the band living their life!

4. “People’s Court” by Jay-Z

In Jay-Z’s 2000 song “People’s Court”, the rapper discusses the United States justice system while also discussing his own criminal ways. In the chorus, he says that if you have an issue with him, don’t take it to court. Instead, take it to him in the streets — in the “People’s Court”.

5. “Stupid Marriage” by The Specials

The Specials released their song “Stupid Marriage” on the 1979 album Specials. In this song, the singer narrates a story that takes place in a courtroom. A man is brought into court for trial. The judge says he is accused of smashing a woman’s window.

Through the judge, we learn that this man is upset that this woman, his ex, married another man. As a result, he’s acted out in violence — and now is in the courtroom!

6. “Johnny 99” by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 song “Johnny 99” follows the sad, tragic life of a man who has lost his job. He has a lot of debt to pay and faces so many issues, as a result. Because of all of this, he ends up getting drunk and eventually shooting a cashier.

Much of the second half of the song takes place in a courtroom after the man’s arrest. Even though this song represents justice for the crime, the man and his family add more meaning to this tragedy, as they beg the judge to be lenient.

7. “Here Comes the Judge” by Pigmeat Markham

Musician and comic Pigmeat Markham released his 1968 song “Here Comes the Judge” to great acclaim, as the song became a huge hit after its release. In this song, Markham acts as a judge in a courtroom, discussing cases that come before him.

However, in this song, Markham makes fun of courtroom etiquette and much of the system. This song is also often considered a precursor to rap music!

8. “Brown to Blue” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions

In Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1981 song “Brown to Blue”, the band talks about a divorce proceeding in the courtroom. Costello sings about how much he still loves his wife, but she wants to leave him. He doesn’t want a divorce, but she does.

He sings the lyrics, “We stood there in the courthouse room so close but far apart / You brought along the lawyer and I brought a broken heart / The judge pronounced the words the way you wanted him to do / You changed your name from Brown to Jones and mine from / Brown to blue”.

9. “The Way I Am” by Eminem

Eminem’s 2000 song “The Way I Am” also references court. For the most part, this song follows Eminem as he discusses the dark or difficult part of fame. He feels he can no longer do many things that he used to.

Eminem sings that people shouldn’t come up and talk to him, or ask for pictures, when he’s out and with his young daughter. If they continue to ask, he won’t be friendly — and he doesn’t care if they press charges.

He raps, “Go call you a lawyer, file you a lawsuit / I’ll smile in the courtroom and buy you a wardrobe”.

10. “American Pie” by Don McLean

Many people often call Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie” one of the best songs of all time! It also references court!

This song discusses many things, and many people have long argued over the meanings of the song. For the most part, McLean talks about pop culture and the history of rock and roll music.

As for the section of the song where he talks about court, McLean sings the lyrics, “When the jester sang for the king and queen / In a coat he borrowed from James Dean / And a voice that came from you and me / Oh, and while the king was looking down / The jester stole his thorny crown / The courtroom was adjourned / No verdict was returned”.

11. “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash

Many artists covered “Cocaine Blues” in the past, as many consider it a classic country or western song. Johnny Cash released his own cover of this song in 1968 on his live album At Folsom Prison.

Like many old blues or country songs, this song discusses a man who is wanted for murder. Cash narrates a man’s story about how he killed his woman. As a result, the police then took this man in after arresting him.

His trial begins, and he sings, “Into the courtroom my trial began / Where I was handled by twelve honest men”. As justice is served and he gets 99 years in prison, he regrets doing drugs, getting drunk, and killing his woman — and tells others not to do as he did.

12. “Free Four” by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd released the song “Free Four” on their 1972 album Obscured by Clouds. This song discusses a lot of different things, including court. For the most part, the song deals with remembering one’s life as one nears death.

Toward the end of the song, the band sings, “And who says the hunt has begun? / And who calls the tune in the courtroom?”.

13. “Mystery of Iniquity” by Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill released “Mystery of Iniquity” on her 2002 album MTV Unplugged No 2.0. In this critically acclaimed song, Hill discusses the injustices and problems with the justice system in the United States.

She sings, “Yo! Y’all can’t handle the truth in a courtroom of lies / Perjures the jurors, witness despised / Crooked lawyers, false indictments publicized / It’s entertainment, the arraignments, the subpoenas/ High profile gladiators in bloodthirsty arenas”.

Throughout the song, she makes similar references as she discusses everything that is wrong with courtrooms and the justice system.

14. “Adios Hermanos” by Paul Simon

Paul Simon’s 1997 song “Adios Hermanos” follows a man who has committed a crime and goes to court. At the beginning of the song, people in this man’s neighborhood say that they may see him again. But the narrator seems to know that they won’t, and he has no hope.

The entire song deals with various situations. For example, Simon talks about violence in the streets, public outrage on only certain crimes, and the justice system as a whole.

15. “Set Him Free” by Skeeter Davis

When Skeeter Davis released her song “Set Him Free” on her 1959 album I’ll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too, the song became a huge hit! It was even the first song by a female country artist to be nominated for a Grammy!

In this song, Davis sings the song from the point of view of a woman who loves a married man. The song takes place in a courtroom during a divorce proceeding. Davis tells the judge that she doesn’t believe in divorces — but he must set this man free from his marriage, as he’s unhappy. Plus, she loves him.

She also talks about all the terrible things this man’s wife did, such as cheating on him and treating him horribly.

16. “Ambitious” by Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck released his song “Ambitious” on his 1985 album Flash. In this song, Beck sings about different people and their flaws. However, he says that these people aren’t bad — they’re just ambitious!

When discussing an ambitious young girl, he sings, “Here is a young girl, born down and out / Locked up in jail when she was ten, yeah / Now in the courtroom, she’s got a bit of doubt / Sits on the judge side of the bench”.

17. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” by Bob Dylan

“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” by Bob Dylan follows the real-life tragic story of Hattie Carroll. Carroll, a 51-year-old barmaid, was killed by a 24-year-old white man with a wealthy background. The tragedy made the news in the 1960s when the man was only charged with assault, rather than murder, and only spent six months in jail.

In Dylan’s 1964 song, he tells this story. He sings the lyrics, “In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel / To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level / And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded / And that even the nobles get properly handled”.

However, the song ends with the judge only giving the man six months, showing that the court doesn’t actually represent equality as Dylan mentioned above.

18. “Drifter’s Escape” by Patti Smith

Patti Smith covered Bob Dylan’s “Drifter’s Escape” on the 2012 album Chimes of Freedom. In this song, Smith sings about the police hauling a drifter into a courtroom. Sadly, the drifter begs for forgiveness for his weaknesses.

It appears that many of the people in the court feel that the trial shouldn’t go on, as it’s hard to watch. Therefore, these people may side with the drifter. However, the trial continues to go on.

But towards the end of the song, when lightning strikes the courthouse and everyone focuses on it, the drifter manages to escape.

19. “Today My World Slipped Away” by George Strait

George Strait released his hit song “Today My World Slipped Away” on his 1997 album Carrying Your Love with Me. Strait talks about divorce in this song, just as so many other songs on this list did.

At the beginning of this song, Strait sings about the end of a relationship. He sings, “I left the courtroom and went straight to the church / I hit my knees and told God how much I hurt”.

Throughout the rest of the song, Strait talks about how he didn’t want a divorce. He still loves his wife. However, she wanted to leave. Even though Strait’s friends tell him that he’ll start a new life, he doesn’t believe he will. He can’t imagine living without her by his side.

20. “I Hung My Head” by Sting

Finally, “I Hung My Head” by Sting also discusses court. In this 1996 song, Sting sings about death and justice. This song follows the story of a young man who kills another, possibly by accident.

The police arrest the man and he goes to court for his crimes. Sting sings the lyrics, “Here in the courthouse, the whole town is there / I see the judge high up in his chair / Explain to the courtroom what went through your mind / And we’ll ask the jury what verdict they find”.

The young man goes on to say how terrible he feels after his crime. However, this doesn’t save him, as he still must face justice for what he did.