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Song Stories

“My Sharona”

The Knack | 1979

It turns out that "My Sharona," one of the most iconic power pop tunes of its era and a Number One hit for the L.A.-based Knack, was inspired by the group's frontman, Doug Fieger, becoming smitten by a younger woman, who would eventually become his fiancée (alas, they never actually wed). As Fieger explained, "Sharona was 17. I was 25 when I wrote the song. But the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy. It's just an honest song about a 14-year-old boy."

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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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