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Song Stories

“Louisiana Fairytale”

Jim James and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band | 2010

My Morning Jacket singer Jim James sat in with these traditional New Orleans old-time jazz legends for a song on a benefit effort to support the group. First recorded by early jazz great Fats Waller, this version hews closer to that than anything written by MMJ. For authenticity, it was recorded at Preservation Hall's hallowed French Quarter home base, where fans can see the band nightly. "What a thrill," recalls James. "We did it old-school: all live with no electricity, and the garbage trucks even played along!"

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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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