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Song Stories

“Oh Sherrie”

Steve Perry | 1984

Steve Perry's girlfriend Sherrie Swafford was actually in the studio when Perry began writing this song--his lone Top Ten hit as a solo act--with two co-writers. The trio began at midnight one night with just "Oh, Sherrie!" and "hold on, hold on." Three hours later, they had a complete song. Swafford, however, had to wait until the next day to hear it. "Sherrie actually got tired and went to bed," Perry said. She also appeared in the video, but their relationship did not hold on for long.

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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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