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Song Stories

“Don't Mug Yourself”

The Streets | 2002

Mike Skinner came out blasting on his debut album as the Streets, spinning tales of smoking, video games, and drinking with geezers. "Don't Mug Yourself" was originally slated to be a B side until Skinner realized how poppy it was. "It's about bugging yourself with a girl," Skinner said. "Just really liking a girl and acting like a complete twat." Appropriately enough, the song was written after a night of binge drinking with his buddy Calvin. "We ended up getting really, really smashed," Skinner said. "Calvin heard the instrumental and he was like 'I want to be on this tune.'"

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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."

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