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Song Stories

“Somebody Told Me”

The Killers | 2004

Wanting to appeal to both sexes, the Killers wrote the androgynous lyric "You had a boyfriend/Who looked like a girlfriend." "This is the story of trying to meet someone in a club," Brandon Flowers said about the debut single from the Las Vegas band's first album, Hot Fuss. For the Killers' follow-up full-length, Sam's Town, Flowers consciously shifted to creating more compelling material. "There are people who want us to write 'Somebody Told Me' again, and we just don't want that," the band's frontman told Rolling Stone. "There's always a place for fun songs, but then there are the songs that give people chills. I like those more."

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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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