.

Song Stories

“Candle in the Wind”

Elton John | 1973

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the original “Candle” as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe on the classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Though it was a hit in the U.K., the song was not released as a single in the U.S. until its 1997 remake, when it was subtitled “Goodbye England’s Rose” in tribute to Princess Diana, another woman who had a complex public life. “[Tragedy has] happened so much in my life,” John told Rolling Stone. “With John [Lennon], with Gianni [Versace], with Princess Diana, and my friend Linda Stein. Four of my friends have been murdered.” The remake would become the biggest-selling single ever, pushing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” down to number two.

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