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Song Stories

“Takin' Care of Business”

Bachman-Turner Overdrive | 1974

The members of BTO were working on this anthem for the working class when a pianist and composer named Norman Durkee stuck his head in the studio and said, unsolicited, "I think that song needs a little bit of piano on it to lift it up," according to BTO singer Fred Turner. When guitarist Randy Bachman asked Durkee what he would do, the musician, who had been at the studio working for someone else, suggested a Little Richard-like groove, then proceeded to compose the intro on a pizza box before recording it. "He walked into the studio and knocked it off in one take," Turner said.

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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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