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Song Stories

“Shout At the Devil”

Motley Crue | 1983

Heavy metal came under fire for supposed satanic messages during the Eighties, and while Mötley Crüe's title track from their 1983 album, Shout at the Devil, seemed to be about standing up to Beelzebub, it was originally titled "Shout With the Devil" -- reflecting Nikki Sixx's interest in black magic at the time. But after a spooky encounter at Sixx's apartment, A&R man Tom Zutaut set the band straight. "I swear to God I saw this with my own eyes, a knife and fork rose off the table and stuck into the ceiling just above where I was sitting," he recalled. "I looked at Nikki and freaked out. 'There is no more "Shout With the Devil." If you keep shouting with the devil, you're going to get killed.'" 

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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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