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Song Stories

“Werewolves of London”

Warren Zevon | 1976

After producing Warren Zevon's debut album, Jackson Browne started playing the Zevon-penned but as yet unreleased "Werewolves" in his own shows, so Browne's label assumed he planned to cut it for his next album. "When I told them it was for Zevon's second record, they thought I was crazy, because they believed I could have a hit with it myself," Browne said. "But that was wrong, and you can see it now. I mean, who wants to hear me sing 'Werewolves of London'? Warren spoke to your inner cynic. There was a dialogue that went on inside of him that's going on inside of everybody."

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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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