.

Song Stories

“Between the Wars”

Billy Bragg | 1985

With no backing but his own electric guitar, Billy Bragg sang "Between the Wars" as a first-person narrative of a miner hoping his hard work would be rewarded by care from the government his efforts helped support. Bragg wrote it while Welsh miners were on strike, his interest in penning politically conscious material spurred by Leon Rosselson's folk tune "The World Turned Upside Down." As Bragg remembered, he wrote half of it in a friend's bathroom, "and she wanted to use the bathroom. So I finished the last verse on a bench on Wimbledon Common."

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