There are certain songs that are just fun to sing along to, and there are songs that are made for turning up loud and playing the air guitar. Many of these songs were inspired by love, friends, and all things good. Other actually have a darker side, say the songwriters.
"The Way" by Fastball
Anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved with gold / It's always summer they'll never get old
Initially it sounds like one of those fun songs to sing on a road trip, but the reality is Fastball's "The Way" has a much darker element. In June 1997, Salado, Texas married couple Lela and Raymond Howard drove away to attend the Pioneer Days festival in Temple, Texas. They never made it and were listed as "Missing." Law enforcement searched for days. The Howards were found dead in their vehicle two weeks later in Arkansas. No foul play was suspected. Lela had been showing signs of Alzheimer's and Raymond was recovering from brain surgery. Fastball bassist Tony Scalzo came up with the idea for the song after reading a series of articles: "It's a romanticized take on what happened."
"Every Breath You Take" The Police
Every move you make / Every vow you break / Every smile you fake / I'll be watching you
Before you dedicate this song by The Police to your beloved, better understand what writer Sting has to say about it. "…it's a nasty little song, really rather evil. It's about jealousy and surveillance and ownership … there's this distasteful character talking about every move." He wrote it after his divorce from his first wife.
"Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots
And I feel, and I feel / When the dogs begin to smell her / Will she smell alone?
While sitting in a hot tub, STP lead singer Scott Weiland and STP drummer Eric Kretz discussed a recent news story of a young woman's disappearance. The woman was found dead near San Diego, the band's hometown. They talked lyrics and the song was born. The lyrics are also about a failed relationship.
"Possum Kingdom" The Toadies
I'm not gonna lie / I'll not be a gentleman / Behind the boathouse / I'll show you my dark secret
Possum Kingdom is a lake / recreational area in Texas where the band hails from. Writer / lead singer Todd Lewis says the song was inspired in part by a peeping tom / stalker in Tyler, Texas who was becoming part folk hero, part boogie man. Lewis calls the lake "eerie, cool … with some spooky names" and penned the lyrics in part of "stuff I heard, stuff I made up."
"One Way or Another" Blondie
I will drive right by your house / And if the lights are all down / I'll follow your bus downtown / See who's hanging out
Fun to sing to, fun to dance to, but lead singer Deborah Harry said she wrote the lyrics as a "survival mechanism" when she was stalked by "a nut job … it came out of a not-so-friendly personal event." The stalker kept her in a state of unrest for a time.
"Deep Red Bells" Neko Case
A hand print on the driver’s side / It looks a lot like engine oil / And tastes like being poor and small
Neko Case's haunting voice and the music playing alongside it make for a beautiful song, until you discover Case wrote the song about the "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgeway. Case was a Washington teen when Ridgeway's crime spree made every young girl wary, realizing they may not be as safe as they assumed. She was also bothered by the media's treatment of Ridgeway's prostitute victims, as if they were not worthy of mention or had loved ones.
Photo of J. Yates courtesy HERE