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Video: Liz Phair Remembers 'Exile in Guyville

'This was when you really felt there was a mainstream music culture that we wanted to fuck with,' the singer tells 'Rolling Stone' at Matador 21. 'We felt we were making better music than the stuff you heard on the radio.'

October 4, 2010 1:27 PM ET

“Everyone who was making indie music knew each other. It was a small group of people,” Liz Phair told Rolling Stone, sitting high up in the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas during the weekend anniversary celebration for Matador Records, which released her acclaimed 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville. “This was when you really felt there was a mainstream music culture that we wanted to fuck with. We felt we were making better music than the stuff you heard on the radio.” She has a new album, Funstyle, set for release October 19th (on Rocket Science), but was in Vegas to reconnect with old friends, including the Matador art director who wandered into the nearby wilderness during the cover shoot for Whip Smart and, apparently, barely survived. “It's intense — everyone is coming together. We've all been dispersed, the culture has moved on. [But] it's alive, it's still happening. Thank God Matador did this. They made a weekend that I'll remember forever.”

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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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