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Song Stories

“What You Want”

Evanescence | 2011

After taking a well-deserved break from music to enjoy married life, Amy Lee reconvened with her bandmates to write the follow-up to 2007 The Open Door. What became the title track and first single from their third album was written with bassist Tim McCord and guitarist Terry Balsamo at Lee's house in New York. "I was just doodling around on the piano and the guys were like, 'Do that. Whatever you just did, that's an awesome melody,'" she said, adding that the song is about freedom. Beck's father, David Campbell, did the string arrangement.

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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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