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Song Stories

“2112”

Rush | 1976

When Neil Peart took over as main songwriter for Rush, the Toronto-based prog rockers' songs suddenly took on a more imaginative and cinematic scope. And this was never more evident than on the title track of 2112, which tells the story of a man discovering a guitar during a time in the future when music is forbidden. As Peart explained, "I dreamt up this story of music being invented against a dystopian, totalitarian society." The drummer and lyricist would also admit to being inspired by the writing of Samuel R. Delany and Ayn Rand, specifically the latter's The Fountainhead and Anthem.

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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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