.

Song Stories

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”

Jim Croce | 1972

While serving in the National Guard — which Croce joined to avoid fighting in Vietnam — Jim Croce was inspired by a fellow guardsman he occasionally sang with. "This one particular guy, who was named Leroy Brown, decided to go AWOL," said Croce's widow, Ingrid, "and actually came back to get his check." In the song, the "baddest man in the whole damn town" gets toppled by a jealous man. In real life, Leroy Brown was handcuffed and tossed into the brig. Ingrid Croce added, about her husband, "He ended up writing a song about this bad, bad Leroy Brown because he was just so cool."

prev
Song Stories Main Next

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."

More Song Stories entries »
www.expandtheroom.com