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Song Stories

“Rough Boys”

Pete Townshend | 1980

Although the emergence of punk rock didn't seem to affect the Who's musical direction (1978's Who Are You? was full of synthesizers and strings), Pete Townshend did replicate the spirit of punk lyrically and musically on his 1980 solo tune, "Rough Boys." In fact, Towshend dedicated the song to the Sex Pistols (in addition to his two children) on the sleeve cover to his album, Empty Glass. "You have Pete's sexual ambiguity going on here - it sounds like a gay song," Who fanatic Alice Cooper told Rolling Stone. "I still don't know exactly what he was trying to say with that song, but I love it, whatever it is. Pete's an amazing mystery."

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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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