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Song Stories

“Runaway”

Del Shannon | 1961

"Runaway" was written during an informal recording session at Detroit's Hi-Lo Club. "I hit a series of chords, and Del said, 'Let's build something,'" recalled keyboardist and co-writer Max Crook. "He was humming a melody, and I put that bridge in" -- the song's notoriously weird keyboard break, played on an electronic keyboard that Crook invented, which he named the Musitron. Shannon wrote lyrics the next day at his day job in a carpet store. Sadly, he killed himself in 1990, despite the fact that he was working on a new album with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, and was also rumored to be joining the pair in the Traveling Wilburys as the late Roy Orbison's replacement.

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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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