Song Stories

“The EMI Song”

Alex Chilton | 2012

In 1969, during the twilight of the Box Tops and before the formation of Big Star, Alex Chilton made a solo record, Free Again, that would go unreleased for 40 years. Released posthumously in 2012, the standout track, “The EMI Song” is Chilton at his most earnest and romantic, pledging his love. Big Star drummer Jody Stephens told Rolling Stone that Chilton was “nothing but a guy channeling the emotions he was feeling at the time, completely unadulterated.”

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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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