THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE SONG

‘Behind every favourite song, there is an untold story’~ Unknown

To some music is more important than others.  While for some the melody and beat immediately draw attention, others connect to the lyrics and the melody and beat fall into place.  Some songs are easily forgotten yet others stand the test of time and their messages will always remain relevant.

Were you ever curious enough to find out the inspiration for a favourite song?  What was the reason the author wanted to share something with complete strangers?  Every song tells a story – some quite bold and others a little more subtle. 

Radio Gaga – Queen

This 1984 smash hit is a commentary on television overtaking radio’s popularity.  Back in the day, a radio was the only source for news, comedy, drama, science fiction programmes and of course, music. “And everything I had to know I heard it on my radio”.  The song also addresses the advent of the music video and MTV (music television) and the subsequent competition with radio as the most important medium for promoting new music.  However, the songwriter and drummer, Roger Taylor seems sad that this is the case “So don’t become some background noise / A backdrop for the boys and girls / Who just don’t know or just don’t care”.  Roger Taylor commented that the song speaks about the visual side being more important than the audible. 

Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins

Phil Collins wrote the song after visiting Washington DC.  Phil said the song deals with people’s awkwardness when confronted by a homeless person or beggar. “She calls out to the man on the street / Sir can you help me?” He confessed that he too felt awkward when he crossed paths with a homeless woman when leaving the recording studio one day. “He walks on, doesn’t look back / He pretends he can’t hear her”.  He did the same as most people – he turned a blind eye and pretended the beggar was invisible.  “Starts to whistle as he crosses the street / Seems embarrassed to be there”.

Buffalo Soldier – Bob Marley

The original Buffalo Soldiers were a segregated regiment of black cavalry fighters during the American campaign to remove the Native Americans from the West.  Many of the soldiers were slaves taken from Africa and were still ill-treated by the White majority.  These soldiers were famed for being the first black peacetime regiment in the US Army and their exceptional courage and bravery.   Bob Marley took this bit of history and wrote a protest song about the Black man’s role in building a country that continues to oppress them.  The lyrics ‘There is a Buffalo soldier in the hearts of America / Stolen from Africa, brought to America / Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival’ confirm this sentiment.

Green, Green Grass of Home – Sir Tom Jones

Although this classic was not recorded by the Welsh crooner originally, he had a worldwide no. 1 hit with it in 1966.  The song is about a prisoner on death row, who dreams of his home and his childhood “….. yes, they’ve all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly….” the night before his execution, but this is only evident at the end of the song.  “Then I awake and look around me, at four grey walls that surround me. And I realize that I was only dreaming. For there’s a guard, and there’s a sad old padre, arm in arm, we’ll walk at daybreak” and then he will be buried “Yes, they’ll all come to see me in the shade of that old oak tree, as they lay me ‘neath the green, green grass of home“.  This prisoner was to be executed and he is reminiscing on the precious and childhood parts of his life.  Sir Tom said that when he returned to his hometown of Pontypridd in Wales from London, UK, the words; ‘the old hometown looks the same’ rang true for him too.

Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2

Any true U2 fan would immediately tell you the song is a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, the US civil rights leader.  In later years, the original song was intended to be based on Ronald Reagan’s pride in the USA military power.  A book on the life of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X provoked thoughts about the different sides of the civil rights movements – There some who would like to bring forth change through peace and others prefer to use violence to enforce their point of view.  “One man came he to justify / One man to overthrow”.  The final verse of the song remembers the night of the assassination of Luther King.  “Early morning April 4 / shot rings out in a Memphis sky / free at last, they took your life / they could not take your pride”.   

‘Music is the voice of the soul’

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