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Song Stories

“Rock & Roll Woman”

Buffalo Springfield | 1967

With intertwining acoustic and electric guitars, and Buffalo Springfield's effervescent backup harmonies, Stephen Stills paid tribute to a "Rock & Roll Woman" who epitomized cool hipness. The lyrics were inspired by one of the biggest female rock superstars of the age, Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick. The idea for the music, Stills confirmed, "came from jamming with David Crosby at his house. We got hung up on the F to D change in D-modal, which is mountain minor tuning. We kept playing it over and over and over again."

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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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