Song Stories

“Purple Haze”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | 1967

Although"Purple Haze" is often associated with acid culture, Jimi Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross explained that the song's basis wasn't drug-related. "Though the tune would forever be linked in the popular imagination with LSD, Jimi said it was inspired by a dream he had that mirrored the novel Night of Light: Day of Dreams, by Philip José Farmer." There has been some talk over the years about an often misunderstod line from the song, in which Hendrix sings, "Excuse me while I kiss the sky." When Frank Zappa's band covered the tune in 1988, they went with "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."

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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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