The Girl In The Song: The True Stories Behind 50 Rock Classics

Videos by American Songwriter

The Girl In The Song: The True Stories Behind 50 Rock Classics
By Michael Heatley & Frank Hopkinson
[Rating: 4 stars]

Sharona. Maggie May. Peggy Sue. Carrie Ann. Inhabitants of pop music’s most enduring songs, these real-life ladies all have stories of their own, revealed in this addictive little book by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson.

Many of these back stories will already be familiar to pop fans (we all know that “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” is about Janis Joplin and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is a lost-love plea to Judy Collins) but the relative depth of each account makes for great human interest reading anyway, like People magazine for music geeks.

There are old wives’ tales and fresh revelations: most people take it as a given that Toto’s “Rosanna” was written by Steve Lukather for his then-girlfriend Rosanna Arquette, but Heatley and Hopkinson set the record straight. Bowie fans will appreciate the explication of “Life On Mars”; and the history behind Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara,” while not clear-cut, is fleshed out to a satisfying degree by the authors.

So what became of these lyrical heroines? Some have fallen into obscurity, but most have gone on to fulfilling lives of their own, either as actresses and singers, or in other careers. The legendary “Peggy Sue” (who was married to Buddy Holly’s drummer Jerry Allison) became one of the first female licensed plumbers in California. Emily Young, who inspired Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play,” is an influential British sculptor. Leonard Cohen’s early muse Suzanne didn’t fare as well, but has lived her celebrated Bohemian lifestyle to the hilt.

Highly entertaining, The Girl In The Song also reminds us that behind every classic hit is an ordinary tale of love or loss.


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