I’m a little miffed that Dave Simpson published his piece on the real people who inspired pop songs when I had been working on my own piece in that vein for months! Since I guess the concept is out of the bag (as it were), I might as well run with what I’ve got. Beneath the cut: the real stories behind songs from Duran Duran, the Beatles, and the Steve Miller Band.
Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982)
Romeo (wolf, Juneau, Alaska): Yeah, I met Simon [LeBon] on one of his backcountry trips. We were running neck-and-neck for this one stag, and I got it, of course, but I sat down with him after and he helped me skin it. We did a little coke and talked. He seemed to think being a wolf was all rugged hick shit. But, you know, it’s not like what you see on those tacky airbrushed sweatshirts people wear. It’s pretty sexy too. And just cause I’m in the wilderness naturally doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a little urban excursion. I like to ride the subway, you know, have a few drinks at the better bars. But sometimes I overdo it, and then the next morning, I’m chasing down some rabbit trying to keep my cookies down and my mouth tastes like wine. So anyway, it was a great six-hour conversation, and then a few months later I turn on my radio and what should I hear! He sent me a lovely jerky basket when it hit No. 1.
The Beatles, “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” (1968)
Johnny Hotpants (monkey, India): Yeah, everybody thinks this is about the Maharishi, which seems really speciesist, you know? I mean, I guess it’s my own fault. The story behind it is a little embarrassing, but what the hell, I’m an old monkey now, and it hardly matters anymore. That line “Your inside is out and your outside is in”? Yeah. That’s from when I took a shit on George [Harrison]‘s head. All the other stuff…well, they were stoned, and then they watched The Wizard of Oz, and they got this idea that I could fly. So they pick me up, right? And they try and toss me off this fucking cliff! I was pissed! They were all laughing in their gay little British accents, “huh huh huh throw ‘im off, George,” so I scrambled off his arm and took a shit on his head. Took him a week to find all the little bits in his hair. Asshole.
Steve Miller Band, “Fly Like an Eagle” (1976)
Thunderclaws (eagle, Montana): Oh yeah, that was back in my youth. I had formed this sorta collectivist farm that somehow got radicalized, I guess because we were all doing too many uppers, and we started stockpiling weapons. We provided security for the band at their Billings show, and they kinda took a shine to us, since we were a bunch of heavily-armed animals and all, rock stars love that shit. We took them back to our compound afterwards and…well, I don’t want to say we brainwashed them, but we did lock them in a room for a while and berate them with our revolutionary platform. But look, we took this shit really seriously, OK? We had a major rock star in our possession and we weren’t going to stop until he wrote a song that advanced our agenda. I mean, as it turned out, no one remembers all the social justice stuff, they just remember the “doot doot doo doo” bullshit. Yeah, I’m pretty jaded now. You know, you’re an eagle, people expect certain things of you, but maybe your dreams died thirty years ago when people took a revolutionary anthem to be stoner-rock, you know? What are you supposed to do about that? Anyway, then Seal covered it, and it was pretty awesome.
Bet you think this song is about you [Guardian]