Sunday, October 02, 2005

Song Facts

As a prior blog entry relates, I am fascinated by the potential background and stories songs. Yesterday, I discovered , a site that provides just this kind of background. Apparently, I am not alone in wondering who Suzanne is, and who is being accused by James Taylor of making and executing plans that put "an end" to her.

One of the stories that has touched me most is "Mandy," as sung by Barry Manilov. I had heard before that originally, another singer had recorded this using the name Brandy, and that to avoid confusion with "Brandy, You're a Fine Girl," the woman's name was changed for Manilov's U.S. version. Song Facts could not provide any information on what inspired the song. Apparently, there have been rumors. One was that the song was about the author's dog. The author reportedly admits to telling that story. However, that was in response to a phone call from a reporter that had awakened the author. He later said that this was the first story he could think of and that he would have said anything to get rid of the reporter as quickly as possible. Oh well, we are left wondering...

It is not clear how carefully the information has been verified, but there are some interesting stories. I found the site searching for background on Train's song "Drops of Jupiter." This song apparently came to the lead singer in a dream. Supposedly, the question about "[falling] from shooting star ... without a permanent scar" may be tied to a scar on the writer's face. I have some difficulty comprehending how anyone could ask with a straight face whether "Venus [was] ... everything you expected to find." Few rational people could have much of a hope of finding any comfort on this planet with its crushing atmosphere and deadly heat. I can certainly understand, however, how the solar wind could "sweep [one] off [one's] feet." Whether intentionally or not, the song gives off some insight into the writer's cultural background. Strictly speaking, people from cultures whose cuisine features other concoctions may not actively seek to "imagine [a world with] no fried chicken," but that could just as well be because they never thought of the possibility of a world featuring this cholesterol extravagant dish. As to what is meant by the notion of "[dancing] along the light of day," I have no clear idea. On the other hand, the observation that "[her checking] out Mozart while she does tae-bo [reminds] me that there's time to grow" is quite inspirational.

It turns out that neither John Denver nor the two co-authors of the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" had been to West Virginia when the song was written. The song writers were nearby in Maryland, however, when the created the song, while on a road trip, based on postcards they had received from a friend visiting the "country road" state.

Record producers, feeling that the song "Daniel" was too long, insisted that Elton John and Bernie Taupan cut the final, fourth verse. That verse had clarified that the story was about an older brother who had returned from the Vietnam war and, having become disillusioned with the U.S., moved to Spain.

I am grateful to the staff at Song Facts for compiling this treasury of information, so I do not want to sound ungrateful in showing my disappointment that there is no information about some of the songs that fascinate me most. None of Atlanta Rhythm's songs are listed, and there is no entry for "In Neon," sung by Elton John and written by Bernie Taupan.

In case anyone wonders about the songs I wrote, "Tears on My Keyboard" is purely fictional. I don't know of any Tennessee man who fell in love with a woman in Texas.

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