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Song Stories

“The Beast”

Laura Marling | 2011

Folk artist Laura Marling creates a sprawling, poetic tune that employs foreboding lyrics and the fuzz of a distorted guitar to allude to a nebulous beast character who lurks throughout her album, A Creature I Don't Know. "At some point it's me, at some points it's someone else, and at some points it's not even a thing--it's like a force," Marling said. "The Beast" is accentuated by guitar, which takes on a life of its own: "The electric guitar sound is like a character in the song, almost as important as the lyrics," Marling noted.

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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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