Backstories Of Famous Songs

Every tune, music, beat is inspired from somewhere. An artist can produce the most soulful music when they have a strong emotion attached to it. There emotions are a result of incidents or events that take place in their lives, and affect them greatly. To make a memory or to honour these memories an artist uses music to channelize their feelings, emotions and also to share them with their fans and other audience. Here are some songs with some interesting back stories. 

99 Red Balloons/ 99 Luftballons – Nena

It was originally released in Germany in 1983 before it was decided that due to its success, that an international version was to be commissioned a year later with the lyrics translated into English. Upon your first listen you'd be mistaken for thinking that this is a song focused around love or summer time due to its infectiously catchy backing track. However, this is a song about the apocalypse essentially. The lyrics in fact describe the idea that whilst the Berlin wall was standing what would happen if someone was to release a bag of balloons from the East Berlin, which was the Soviet controlled side, and they flew into West Berlin, which was controlled by Germany, setting off the Early Warning System and thus starting a nuclear war. 

Pumped Up Kids- Foster The People

Released in 2010, pumped up kicks comes from indie American band "Foster The People" The song was the band's debut and was well received, finding itself a large amount of radio airtime around its release, due to its psychedelic pop sound which proved inoffensive in itself. This led listeners to believe that what they were hearing was just the usual American indie pop, unaware that in the mildly distorted vocals was a far darker meaning. The vocals of the song juxtapose the previously mentioned musical style, with the song in fact being the description of a mentally unstable youth as he plans to shoot up his high school. This is made evident in the songs chorus in which the youth issues a warning to his potential victims that "You better run, better run, better outrun my gun" and also "You better run, better run, faster than my bullet". 

Hey Jude – Beatles 

"Hey Jude" was released in August 1968 as the first single from the Beatles' record label Apple Records. More than seven minutes in length, it was at the time the longest single ever to top the British charts. It also spent nine weeks at number one in the United States, the longest for any Beatles single. "Hey Jude" tied the "all-time" record, at the time, for the longest run at the top of the US charts. The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional critics' lists of the greatest songs of all time. In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th biggest song of all time. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The ballad evolved from "Hey Jules", a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon's son, Julian, during his parents' divorce. "Hey Jude" begins with a verse-bridge structure incorporating McCartney's vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes.

I Shot The Sherriff- Bob Marley

Clearly, the man himself isn’t around to tell the story behind this song anymore, but his ex-girlfriend surfaced, claiming that it is in fact about his displeasure at her being on the contraceptive pill. Apparently the sheriff John Brown of the lyric is an allusion to the doctor prescribing her the pill, which does rather make sense when you look at the lyric: “Sheriff John Brown always hated me/ for what, I don’t know/ Every time I plant a seed/ He said kill it before it grow.”

The Needle And The Damage Done- Neil Young

Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” tells the story of Daniel Ray Whitten, Young’s friend and colleague from his backing band Crazy Horse, and his struggle with heroin addiction. “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done / A little part of it in everyone.” Young’s lyrics expose the heroin addiction that plagued the whole band, but particularly Whitten. Young fired Whitten after he was unable to keep up with the band during rehearsals, and Whitten overdosed on Valium and alcohol later that night.

- Vrishti Nadkarni