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Song Stories

“Lights”

Interpol | 2010

Interpol lead singer and songwriter Paul Banks doesn’t know where the idea for this nebulous and slow-building "Lights" came from. “It just came out,” Banks said. “There’s many times I’m trying to get better at doing this but really unconscious composition, like your subconscious. You can get away with that kind of thing when you’re doing music — you can’t get away with that in other medium. Where there’s melody involved, ideas could just come and you can do them because you know in that moment that it’s the right thing. So, that was one of those.”

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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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