Song Stories

“Foolish Games”

Jewel | 1997

The lyrics of this song about unreturned love began as a poem Jewel Kilcher wrote at age 16, when she first started keeping a serious journal. The verse was "about a relationship that I was dramatically involved in on paper," she said. "I'm sure he knew nothing of it." A year later, it evolved into a song. "I think the woman is looking at herself saying, 'Why am I involved in a relationship where I'm selling myself so short?'" Like with her earlier song "You Were Meant for Me," Kilcher rerecorded "Foolish Games" for radio, unhappy with the original.

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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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