Song Stories

“Pink Houses”

John Cougar Mellencamp | 1983

Recorded in a farmhouse in Brownstown, Indiana, “Pink Houses” was inspired by a tableau that the heartland rocker witnessed on a highway overpass. Just as the song's opening verse tells it, there was an elderly African-American gentleman “sitting on the porch of his pink shack with a cat in his arms,” John Mellencamp told Rolling Stone. “He waved, and I waved back. That's how the song started.” This song, and the Uh-huh album it was taken from, won over previously skeptical music critics with its rootsy populist rock.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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