Song Stories

“Fight the Power”

Public Enemy | 1989

The defiant rap group first recorded what is perhaps their best-known song for the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. Built on multiple layers of samples beginning with the agitated bass pattern from "Hot Pants Road" by James Brown's backing group the J.B.'s, the song was a provocative call to arms for would-be revolutionaries. Frontman Chuck D once called the song the group's "most important record . . . It was written to be an anthem, at a particular time that needed an anthem."

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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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