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Song Stories

“A Drowning”

How To Destroy Angels | 2010

Featuring Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandiq and his longtime musical collaborator Atticus Ross, How to Destroy Angels directly lifted its name from Coil's 1984 debut single. About being in a band with his wife, Reznor told Rolling Stone: "I'm very aware of the multitude of ways [it] can go wrong. We're best friends and are interested in the same things, so it's natural to make music together. Taking my personality out of the spotlight and working in a more supporting role is what's exciting to me now." On this 7-minute post-industrial track, Maandiq sings about feeling as though she's drowning in emotion.

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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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