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Song Stories

“The Humpty Dance”

Digital Underground | 1990

The fictional Edward Ellington Humphries III — a.k.a., "Humpty Hump" — made his first appearance on the group's video for "Doowutchyalike." "While we were shopping for props ... we came across this box of bargain-bin noses," rapper Shock-G said. When he tried on a pair of Groucho glasses with a big brown nose, he was so amused, he decided to wear them in the video. In this whimsical counter to the grittiness of gangsta rap, Humpty reappears, noting that his odd looks don't inhibit his ability to get funky with the ladies as he hypes his eponymous dance.

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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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