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Nostalgia Songs for Memorial Day

Listen to our playlist of memory-jogging tunes about lives and loves gone by

May 25, 2012 1:10 PM ET

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, and a time to look forward to warm weather, cook-outs, days at the beach and cutting out of work early on Fridays. But Memorial Day is a holiday of remembrance, so it's also a chance to reflect on the past. In honor of this transitional weekend, we've created a playlist of 20 nostalgia-themed songs – including tributes to flings from Pulp, the Four Seasons, Michael Jackson, LaBelle and the Cure, memories of bygone eras from Bryan Adams and Smashing Pumpkins, a look back at the golden age of hip-hop from Del the Funky Homosapien and more. Listen on Spotify, fire up the barbecue and think of the good times.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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