Song Stories

“On the Road Again”

Willie Nelson | 1980

The Red Headed Stranger wrote his signature song for a movie he also starred in. "I was on a plane with Sydney Pollack and Jerry Schatzberg and we were talking about doing the movie Honeysuckle Rose," Nelson recalled. "They said, 'Can you come up with a song for the movie?' and I said, 'Oh, you mean something about, you know, "On the road again, on the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again"?' And they said, 'Yes, but where's the melody?' I said, 'Well, I'll find one.'"

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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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