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Song Stories

“Military Madness”

Graham Nash | 1971

Though on the surface a jaunty early-1970s singer-songwriter outing, "Military Madness" portrays the devastation that war wreaked on Graham Nash's family and native country of England. The song is based on autobiographical experience that is "totally true," Nash said. "I was born in this upstairs room in a kind of hotel that had been turned into a hospital in an evacuation area....My father was in the army, while my mother was having me--February 2, 1942, in the midst of World War II." Lead guitar on the track is supplied by fellow rock star Dave Mason.

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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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