You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory
|"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory"|
|Single by Johnny Thunders|
|from the album So Alone|
|Label||Real Records ARE3|
"You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory" is a song released in 1978 by ex-New York Dolls member Johnny Thunders. The title was taken from a line in the "Better Living Through TV" episode of the sitcom The Honeymooners, and was written for his close friend Fabienne Shine.
Considered by many his signature song, the ballad is said to be about Thunders’ heroin addiction. However, according to Nina Antonia's biography, Johnny Thunders...In Cold Blood, the song was written before he was even a member of the New York Dolls, and years before he had ever tried heroin.
- Half Man Half Biscuit played this song live in May 2016 at the Engine Rooms in Southampton.
- Guns N' Roses covered the song on their album, "The Spaghetti Incident?". All the instruments on this version were performed by Duff McKagan.
- Manic Street Preachers singer James Dean Bradfield played an edited version on the 2004 Lifeblood tour as intro to "Cardiff Afterlife," dedicating the song to the band’s missing lyricist Richey Edwards. Also did an acoustic version on BBC's Radio 2 Music Club, 2008.
- Giant Sand covered the song on the album Ballad of a Thin Line Man (1986).
- The Sand Rubies recorded the song for their 1998 reunion album Return of the Living Dead.
- Ronnie Spector, of The Ronettes, recorded the song on her 1999 She Talks to Rainbows EP featuring Joey Ramone.
- Johnny Thunders' friend Michael Monroe, of Hanoi Rocks, covered the song on his debut solo album, Nights Are So Long (1987).
- Nikki Sudden was known for covering the song live.
- The Bruisers covered the song on their 2001 Better Days.
- Sheer Terror covered the song on the live DVD Beaten By The Fists Of God (2005).
- Mouth frequently performs the song in concert. In August 2009, the band recorded a version for their album, "Beggarman Songs" but it was left off of the final release for unknown reasons.
- The Mighty Wah! recorded a version of the song in 1983.
- Mondo Generator frontman Nick Oliveri recorded a solo version of the song for the bands' Australian Tour EP 2008
- Blondie performed a cover during their "Endangered Species Tour". They added it to the setlist on the New York concert as part of a homage of their early friend bands.
- Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and Guns N' Roses bassist Tommy Stinson joined Jesse Malin on stage to perform this song at the City Winery in New York City on February 19, 2011.
- Willie DeVille* performed a cover on the 1996 Thunders tribute album "I Only Wrote This Song For You"
- Throughout his career, New Weird America singer Devendra Banhart has covered the song live.
- Glocca Morra covered this song at their final show.
- Tim Presley under the moniker White Fence covered the song on the album Is Growing Faith (2011).
- Queens of the Stone Age did a live acoustic version of the song.
Use in pop culture
- The Sopranos featured the song at the end of episode 11, "House Arrest," of season two.
- The song is played in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead (1999).
- Featured in episode 1 of the sixth season of Californication
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