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Song Stories

“Complete Control”

The Clash | 1979

The Clash recorded "Complete Control" with one of their idols: Jamaican dub producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. But the song couldn't have been less reggae; instead, it's a propulsive punk rant about overbearing management and record-label chicanery. (The title came from the Clash's manager, Bernie Rhodes, who called for "complete control" during one band meeting.) The lyrics are a laundry list of grievances -- beginning with a complaint about how CBS Records handled an earlier Clash single. "We was on tour and 'Remote Control' was put out behind our backs," bassist Paul Simonon explained in 2003. "We were angry, yeah, but 'Complete Control' was funny as hell."

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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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