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Song Stories

“The End”

The Doors | 1967

A gentleman harboring an Oedipus complex was not a common theme in 1960s rock. But Jim Morrison was not your average lyricist, as evidenced by "The End." "It's about a man who inadvertently killed his father and married his mother," Morrison told Rolling Stone. "But to tell you the truth, every time I hear that song, it means something else to me. I really don't know what I was trying to say. It just started out as a simple goodbye song." "The End" would enjoy a second life in 1979 when it appeared in the opening and closing scenes of Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam film Apocalypse Now.

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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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