Name Help: A Musical Sister for CeciliaName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Melissa writes:

Maybe this is a little extra, but I’m trying to come up with another girl’s name from a song. Ideally, it would be the song title/part of the title.

My name comes from the Allman Brothers song “Sweet Melissa.” It was kind of perfect, because I was born many years after the song came out. So I’d hear it sometimes, and knew it was “my” song, but it wasn’t like being named Bruno right now, with everybody singing it to you.

Cecilia was my husband’s suggestion, but I immediately loved it because of the song. Same thing – no one assumes it’s because we’re huge Simon and Garfunkel fans, but it’s kind of fun when we hear it.

We’d always agreed to name a son James. Again, there’s the song. (Even better, it’s “Sweet Baby James” to go with “Sweet Melissa.”)

But our second baby is a girl, and I’m feeling like I don’t want her to be left out. It’s possible we might have a third child in the future, and if it is our James, we’d have two out of three song title names.

We’ve ruled out:

  • Angie/Angela, Rolling Stones – I think I could (maybe) like Angela, but Angie is just a no
  • Caroline, Neil Diamond – perfect, BUT our last name ends with -ine, so it sounds awful
  • Jane, Jane’s Addiction – but it seems too plain next to Cecilia!
  • Josephine, George Thorogood – similar problem as Caroline with our last name (worried it would make people mispronounce our last name with an ‘een’, which is already a thing), plus good friends have a Josie
  • Layla, Eric Clapton – love the song, but maybe not the name?
  • Lola, the Kinks – LOVE this name, but my husband isn’t sure and not sure about the song
  • Lucy, Beatles – could be perfect BUT we call our older daughter Cece sometimes, and Cece and Lucy is too much (even for me)
  • Ophelia,The Lumineers – maybe too obscure/feel like we won’t hear it the way we do older songs
  • Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac – too much about the song, if that makes sense
  • Sara, Hall & Oates – could be really fun, but we just don’t love the name enough

Maybe the problem is that I want the song to be old enough that it’s not obvious. But I still want the girls to both feel like we hear their songs. (My older sister didn’t have a “song” and she’s still kind of mad about it!)

Can you help us think of more names that 1) are from song titles; 2) sound good with a last name that sounds like Burr-Dine; 3) are the kind of thing that you might hear at a baseball game but also would hear in real life without thinking it was from the song? (I know that last one is tricky!)

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for this question!

As it happens, I know a family with a similar situation – though their older child’s name (sort of) comes from a (mostly) obscure song reference with meaning to them. They chose Cecilia, in part, because it gave her a song, too!

It’s tricky, though, because you’re looking for a name you both like that happens to come from a very brief list of song titles.

That means your ultimate decision will be a trade-off. What’s more important to get right? The song reference, or your daughter’s name?

I think it might be possible to do both, but I do want to encourage you to feel okay about choosing a more obscure/contemporary song if that solves the problem for you. Will it be exactly fair? No. But pop culture evolves. There’s no guarantee we’ll think about all of these songs exactly the same way in another twenty years.

But, oh, I want this to work out for you!



“Hey There Delilah” from the Plain White Tees only became a hit in 2007. But I expect we’ll still be hearing it in 2037. At least, I still catch it on satellite radio all. the. time. And it’s been fifteen years already. More reasons to consider it: it sounds balanced with Cecilia; the song is broadly positive; and if Layla, Lola, and Lucy are on your list, then maybe you’ll like the L sounds, too.


Again, this 1998 song is on the younger side. But really not by much. And if this Goo Goo Dolls hit has survived nearly 25 years, it will probably still be around in another 25. It’s romantic and dramatic, but Iris has plenty of strength, too.


Confession: I don’t think I heard this 1980 song until sometime in the late 1990s. And I wouldn’t put Donny Iris in the same category as the Beatles or the Stones. But it’s an enduring name for a daughter, just like Cecilia.


With Ruby, you can pick your song, genre, and era. Kenny Rogers? The Kaiser Chefs? My first thought is the Rolling Stones, because Ruby Tuesday is just fun to say. (Though there’s the chain restaurant, too, so maybe that’s a minus. Though Cecilia would have Cici’s Pizza.) It reminds me of almost-not-quite Lucy, but it’s different enough from Lucy that it works with your older daughter’s name.


I think you’d be less likely to hear “Stella Blue” in the wild. The Grateful Dead weren’t known for their radio hits; even so, this song is a little more obscure than, say, “Truckin'” or “Shakedown Street.” But, but, but … how great is Stella Blue as a first-middle combination?


Strictly speaking, it’s Susie in the song titles. “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers is my first thought. But there’s “Susie Q” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, too, plus “Oh! Susanna.” The latter gives me pause, because I can imagine people singing that one to your daughter, more so than the others. But how great are Cecilia and Susanna together?


I’m thinking of the Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson cover of The Zutons’ song. Strictly speaking, it’s new – dating to 2011. (2006 if you count the original version.) But Steve Winwood used the name in a song title earlier. So did The Monkees, though they spelled it Valleri. (I think that last one matches the tempo and spirit of “Cecilia” well.)


Back to The Kinks. Everyone knows Lola, but I’m a fan of “Victoria.” It’s about the Victorian era, but his regal and commanding name remains nicely wearable. The problem, of course, is that it’s less likely to be heard out and about – so maybe that rules it out.


My first pick is still my first suggestion: Delilah. I think it hits the right note, both in terms of sounding like Cecilia’s sister and achieving song parity.

But Ruby is a close second, and I think it would be great with your older daughter’s name, too.

Readers, what would you name a sister for Cecilia? Song references strongly preferred!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I know I’m late to this question, but I love it so much! I hope OP swings past to tell us what name eventually won! 😀
    When I listen to Brandy, it’s delightful how many women in the comments talk about how they were named for the song. And I currently have Elvira (by The Oak Ridge Boys) stuck in my head because of the question. I don’t think either are OP’s style, but they both make me smile.
    And for the record, Valorie has both the song by Steve Winwood, and Call On Me by Eric Prydz- the latter remixes the original Winwood song, and is a jam on its own right.

  2. Alice (Lady Gaga song)? Violet (The Birthday Massacre song)? Janine (from Janine 1, Janine 2 and Janine 3 by Camille)? I also want to suggest Anna Julia and Christina, but these two might be way too obscure as they are from my country.

  3. I’ll throw in my daughter’s somewhat obscure name from a song/poem, Afton. I noticed my husband at a party while he was playing the Nickel Creek version of this song and that was that ❤️

    I do love the Beatles song Julia for you!

  4. Adding Eleanor. I had an LP gifted when I was born with 3 songs– Eleanor Rigby, Elenore by the Turtles and Lady Eleanor by Lindisfarne.

    There is also Eleanor Put Your Boots On by Franz Ferdinand.

  5. Oh, and I think Virginia Burr-Dine sounds amazing. That’s a name that passes the “Supreme Court Justice test”!

    Some other names that might suit your little one:

    Marie (as in “Absolutely Sweet Marie” by Bob Dylan)

    Johanna (as in “Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan)

    Louise (as in “Hey Louise” by Neil Diamond)

    Rose or Rosie (as in “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond)