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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."

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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