Song Stories

“Me and My Arrow”

Harry Nilsson | 1971

While recording Nilsson Sings Newman, Harry Nilsson began working on an album-length children's fable--The Point!--including his own songs and narration, which would later become an animated film and a musical. "I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points," he said. "I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'" In his fable, a boy named Obio is the only round-headed human in a pointy-headed world. Harassed by other kids, Nilsson narrates, "The only real friend he had was his dog, Arrow."

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“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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