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Song Stories

“Toe Jam”

The BPA featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal | 2008

“Toe Jam” was the debut single for Brighton Port Authority, which was a collaboration between David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. Producer Norman Cooke, a.k.a. Fatboy Slim, said that while the ex-Talking Heads frontman and the London-based rapper were listed as co-writers on the tune, they never worked on it together. “[Byrne and I] finished it and Dizzee heard it,” he told Rolling Stone. “I bumped into him at a photo session and he went, ‘I wanna be on that record. It's gonna be a hit and I wanna be on it. Find me 16 bars and put me on it.’ So we kind of glued him onto it."

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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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