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Songs of true stories that happened to the songwriter(s)

Many songwriters are inspired to write from events that happened to them or their band members. What are some that you know?

 

 

"Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple -- written about the fire at the Montreux Switzerland, Frank Zappa concert, that Deep Purple's members were in the audience and they got safely out to a nearby restaurant and watched the smoke gather across Lake Geneva.

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Blackout - Scorpions

 

Scorpions drummer (1977-1995), Herman Rarebell, tells a story about the band being on tour in America, 1980, with a couple of other bands. In the evenings, they would get together at the hotel bar. Some tended to party a little more than others, and in this case, it was into the wee hours of the morning. Scorps’ band leader and primary composer, Rudolf Schenker was one of them on this occasion. Herman, a big time party guy by his own admission, found Rudolf wandering around the hotel parking lot around 4 am. Rudolf didn’t know where he was. Earlier, being quite drunk, he had bashed in a tv set in the hotel bar, and they had thrown him out. He had also wandered into a nearby grocery store, but had no recollection of it. The Chicago police had been called about him. Herman’s English was pretty good having lived in England a few years, He spoke with police and assured them that he would see Rudolf back to his room. The next day, Rudolf asked Herman what happened. He told him, “you had a blackout.”  Later, they sat down and wrote the song Blackout, which became a big hit for the group in 1982 from their album of the same name.

 

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” - Jimi Hendrix
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"I'm Just a Singer in a Rock n Roll Band" - Moody Blues

 

"About how people can think musicians and their songs are more than they seem. One fan held up a sign many days before one of their concerts, that the Moody Blues would save the world. The day after the concert, they were leaving the hotel and the man shouted that they were fakes cause nothing changed. John Lodge shouted back that he was just a singer in a rock and roll band and wrote the song later.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_J-hmyAS6c  

 

Love this song.

 

 

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One of my all time favs of theirs, had to go

watch the video! They all are working it

on the song! Graeme’s drumming is

superb! Thanks for sharing the story 🎼💜

 

Social Butterfly

I agree @BeatleloverKT . One of my all time favorite bands.

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"Please Be Happy" - Tears For Fears - 2022 

 

Roland Orzabal married Caroline Johnston in 1982. Sometime in the 2010's she was diagnosed with alcohol-related dementia. He took care of her until her death in 2017. During her illness, he wrote this song and others. They are on the new album "The Tipping Point". After her death, he suffered with his own health problems.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kINUsOD1rk0 

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Wind Of Change - Scorpions 

 

Klaus Meine wrote this song in 1989 when Scorpions played at the Moscow Music Peace Festival. The bands were given boat ride on the Moscva River, traveling with fans, press, and Red Guard soldiers. Everyone was having fun, talking, laughing, even the soldiers.

 

He wrote the song over the next two days. By the the time the song was published in 1991, the Soviet Union had collapsed along with the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. The single sold an estimated 14 million copies world wide, making it one of the best selling singles of all time, and the Scorpions biggest hit. 

Sadly, in light of recent events, the band felt they could no longer play the song that Meine said “romanticized Russia.”  So for this years’ tour, he wrote a new set of lyrics as a song of peace for Ukraine.

 

The new lyrics are not as well developed as the old ones, but Klaus writes and sings from the heart. Perhaps, one day, he will be able to write new lyrics as a peace anthem for the world. Lord knows, we need one.

Link to article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/31/scorpions-say-they-changed-wind-of-change-lyrics-as-th...

 

Link to new song: https://youtu.be/XZKDON-M3-Q

 

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” - Jimi Hendrix
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"Run-Around" - Blues Traveler - 94

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ousaiByU1ko 

 

About John Popper having a crush on their at-the-time bass player Felicia Lewis and her not returning his feelings. She went on to become a doctor and Bobby Sheehan took over bass.
The video is interesting, beside a great song. John Popper stands behind a curtain and sings while another guy is on stage mouthing the words. John did this to show how stereotypical looks instead of talent can work in the entertainment industry. ( real life too 🐱 )

 

 

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Avalon, Roxy Music

Brian Ferry stayed up on a Saturday night to

write the lyrics for this song. The recording 

studio in London would let local Haitian Bands 

come in and do demos on slow Sundays. He

was on a coffee break and heard Yanick

Etienne sing and was amazed with her voice.

Her bf/ manager came in and they told him 

what they wanted with the song. She spoke no English. She was told to freestyle it at the end 

and if you’ve heard this song you will be

amazed with her voice. It still gives me chills

to this day. He was so impressed with her

he named the album “Avalon” after the song 🎼💜

Trusted Contributor


@BeatleloverKT wrote:

Avalon, Roxy Music

Brian Ferry stayed up on a Saturday night to

write the lyrics for this song. The recording 

studio in London would let local Haitian Bands 

come in and do demos on slow Sundays. He

was on a coffee break and heard Yanick

Etienne sing and was amazed with her voice.

Her bf/ manager came in and they told him 

what they wanted with the song. She spoke no English. She was told to freestyle it at the end 

and if you’ve heard this song you will be

amazed with her voice. It still gives me chills

to this day. He was so impressed with her

he named the album “Avalon” after the song 🎼💜


(11/24/22) Wow @BeatleloverKT , what an interesting story. Totally impressed as they speak their "version" of French in Haiti. Glad you shared with us. Happy 🦃 Day! Nicole 🙂

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"Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)" - A Flock of Seagulls (82)

https://www.youtube/watch?v=opkzgLMH5MA 

 

This song is about a real person. The night before their first trip they ever took to America he (Mike Score) met a girl. After the date, he didn't want to forget her and told her they were going on tour and he'll be back. He wanted a photograph of her. She told him no, because he was going to be famous and he would forget her. He started thinking about it and wrote the song. It wasn't recorded until two years later. Good song.

The band broke up in 86, Mike Score started FLOS up again in 88 with different people in the lineup for years. And he did some solo stuff. The original band got together in 2018 and 2021 to record albums with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Ascension and String Theory.

 

Here is a 2019 video of a live performance of this song (not the original lineup) 

Miss the hairdo 😊

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6120BIDOJ0 

Social Butterfly

"At This Moment" - Billy Vera & The Beaters (81)

Billy Vera (William McCord Jr.) wrote part of the song when dating a girl that had just broken up with a boyfriend and she told the details and he wrote about what he was probably feeling. He couldn't finish the song, he wasn't sure how it ended. Then several months later she broke up with him and he could finish the song. He offered the song to several artists and no one would record it. The group then got a label to record it themselves. It stalled a bit on the charts (#79) and his record label pulled out of the market shortly after. He went into acting. Then an episode of Family Ties tv show featured it on a "break-up episode" and everyone wanted to know who and how to get it. They got another record label (Rhino) and recorded the song. Was number one in 1987.

 

(81) - single - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkfyqF2NRA0 

(86) - single - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe32FjJYLzg 

(88) - Live (and he relates the story) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO01sRRLKkk 

Bronze Conversationalist

That takes me back.. Such a touching piece of music.. Thank you..

Social Butterfly

You're welcome and thanks. 

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I remember the song, but never knew there was a story behind it. Thanks for posting it.

 

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” - Jimi Hendrix
Social Butterfly

You're welcome and thanks. It is a beautiful song.

 

Social Butterfly

"Every Rose Has It's Thorn" - Poison - 1988 - Brett Michaels wrote this about the rose being the growing career of his music and the thorn was the cost of his relationship with Tracy Lewis. He called her while on tour and heard a man's voice in the background. A Dallas country station actually played this before the rock stations did. Was #1 in Pop, Rock and Top 40 Country. Their record label almost didn't let them release it cause they thought it didn't fit the band's image.

 

1988 Video "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" - Poison

 

In 2010 Bret Michaels did a country version - Every Rose - (featuring Brad Arnold, Chris Cagle and Mark Willis) on his album Custom Built

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Fire and rain, James Taylor, 1970

The song follows his reaction to the

suicide of his childhood friend, Suzanne

Schnerr. It also is about his experiences

with drug addiction and fame

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"Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" - Jackson Browne ('76) -

 Written after his wife committed suicide and left their small child.  Lyrics

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"I'm Losing You" - John Lennon (also known as Winston O'Boogie)

 

 --- Written in June 1980 when he thought something was wrong with his relationship with Yoko because he could not get her on the phone. They producers first brought in Cheap Trick's guitarist Rick Nielsen and drummer Bun E. Carlos to play for the recording (12 August 1980), however, they brought in studio musicians for the 1980 release (a few weeks before his murder). The Cheap Trick version was included on the 1998 Lennon Anthology.

 

 

Cheap Trick on the original recording.

from Double Fantasy album

Cheap Trick did a cover version (2001 I think)

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@Vexed  That’s Dr. Winston O’ Boogie. LOL

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Thanks @Raynyky . I had forgotten that part. 🐱

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Cover of the Rolling Stone, Dr. Hook&

the Medicine Show

Satirizes success in the music business. In

the song they lament never being on the

Cover of RS, despite their superficial

attributes. As the song was riding high on

the charts, RS finally caved and put them 

on the cover, but in caricature form and only

of 3 of the 7 members. Their groups name

was not used, the caption read What’s-their-

names-make the cover. Satirical indeed 🎼💜

 

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"Broken" - Seether (Not to be confused with other "Broken" titles)

 

Written when Shaun Morgan and the band were moving to the U.S. and his wife and daughter wouldn't go with him and broke apart the marriage and family. It was put on their 2002 album.

In 2004, while he was dating Amy Lee of  Evanescence, Shaun reworked the song into a duet and wrote strings into it. The song was included in the movie "The Punisher".

 

First version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bHbCib2k6E 

Second version with Amy Lee - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPC2Fp7IT7o 

Honored Social Butterfly

Amy Lee has fantastic vocals, and I enjoy her music with Evanescence. It’s a beautiful duet, but I have to agree with the comments on YT that his solo version is the better one, and brings out the brokenness in the lyrics.

 

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” - Jimi Hendrix
Social Butterfly

I agree @MaVolta . That is the way he wrote it and felt it. The other is beautiful, but it feels more "commercial" if that makes sense.

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"Bitter Taste" - Billy Idol (2021)


-- In 1990, Billy ran a stop sign on his Harley and was hit by a car. Nearly lost his leg. Had a steel rod in leg and a hole and a fractured arm. He decided it was a wake up call and got clean from drugs. Lost the part he was going to play in the 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' movie. He wasn't able to write about it for 30 years. During the pandemic, he wrote this song about the accident. Written with with his guitarist and co-writer Steve Stevens, along with writers Tommy English and Joe Janiak.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHndHseXKQU 

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"Gimme Three Steps" - Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

Ronnie Van Zant, when he was 18 with a fake id went to a bar and Rossington and Allen Collins waited for him in a truck, they were younger. Van Zant danced with a girl named Linda, who had a boyfriend that apparently disapproved. He came up to Ronnie and started reaching for something in his boot. Thinking it was a gun Ronnie said: "If you're going to shoot me it's going to be in the **bleep** or the elbows... just gimme a few steps and I'll be gone." He ran to the truck, and he, Rossington, and Collins wrote this song that night.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM3jgkChV6M 

Bronze Conversationalist

I love how inspiration for a song can come from absolutely anywhere..😎

Regular Social Butterfly

Don't Stop Believin - Journey

 

This Hit for Journey was inspired by a conversation their keyboardist, Jonathan Cain, had with his father shortly after he moved to LA in hopes of landing a big break. "I said, 'Dad, should I just give up on this thing and come home? It seems like I might be pushing it back to Chicago.' 'No, no, don't come home. Stick to your guns. Don't stop believin'. I went, 'OK.'"

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