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Song Stories

“The Gaudy Side of Town”

Gayngs | 2010

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon makes a crooning cameo on this slinky, Eighties-inspired soft-rock number by the two dozen or so musicians who embody this somewhat tongue-in-cheek supergroup-of-sorts. According to lyricist Zach Coulter, "Gaudy Side of Town" is about "trying to keep a straight face during particularly emotional times." That musi inude times like the one when Prince showed up and almost took the stage at the band's prom-themed album release show.

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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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