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Song Stories

“At Home He's a Tourist”

Gang of Four | 1979

The socially conscious post-punk group generated what the members referred to as "the perfect existential squall." "No assemblage, pro-tools confection, just the strings being hit and screaming in pain as they're bashed and cajoled into a beautiful anti-solo that is all about the now and not about the maybe," the band's singer Jon King said in 2009. "We thought this song was a mutant disco thing, at a time when it was not down to like dance music, when funk and rock had to be kept in separate rooms for fear of miscegenation." In the decades to follow, the Gang of Four influenced countless bands with their prescient political dance-rock sound.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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