Song Stories

“54-46 Was My Number”

Toots & the Maytals | 1969

Toots Hibbert coined the term "reggae," and Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff became the faces of the genre. But it might have been different had Hibbert not been arrested for marijuana possession in 1966. At the time, his group was planning a breakthrough European tour. But an 18-month jail term stalled Hibbert while others carried on. Hibbert, who wrote this song about the ordeal, suspects he was set up by a threatened competitor. "They flopped," he said. "They helped me more because I think about it, and I keep singing about it. And I get a Number One record about it."

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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