Song Stories

“(Just Like) Starting Over”

John Lennon & Yoko Ono | 1980

Issued just in advance of John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy LP, "(Just Like) Starting Over" had a retro-1950s ballad/doo-wop feel with lyrics reflecting Lennon's renewed zeal for music after five years away from the record business. The song would reach Number One, but only three weeks or so after Lennon was shot to death on December 8, 1980. "All through the taping of 'Starting Over,' I was calling what I was doing 'Elvis Orbison,'" Lennon told Rolling Stone. "I'm a born-again rocker, I feel that refreshed, and I'm going right back to my roots."

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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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