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Song Stories

“Sweet Emotion”

Aerosmith | 1975

Bassist Tom Hamilton and vocalist Steven Tyler get the official songwriting credit, but “Sweet Emotion” wouldn’t be quite as sweet without guitarist Joe Perry's unusual addition to the recording. That “sucking sound,” concocted by producer Jack Douglas, combines a high-hat and backwards clapping, along with the phrase “sweet emotion,” sung by Perry through an “air bag.” (“It’s fun. Anybody can do it,” he said of the voice-box effect.) Tyler has confessed that Aerosmith's first Top 40 hit is about Perry’s wife, Elyssa: “I couldn’t get next to Joe when she was around, which was all the time," he said.

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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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