“Octopus’s Garden” — Ringo Starr’s lone contribution to the “Abbey Road” album was inspired during a boat trip to the country of Sardinia in 1968. The boat’s captain offered the drummer an octopus lunch, but he turned it down.
The captain then began to tell him everything he knew about octopuses — including how they travel along the sea bed looking for shiny objects and stones with which to build gardens. Ringo thought that so wonderful he penned the bouncy tune.
“White Rabbit” — Author Grace Slick based the lyrics on Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice In Wonderland.” The Jefferson Airplane vocalist — quite familiar with drugs herself — saw lots of drug references in Carroll’s book, including the pills, the smoking caterpillar, the mushroom, and other trippy images.
“Running on Empty” — Jackson Browne didn’t have to look far for inspiration to this tune. Constant trips back and forth to the studio left his car’s gas tank permanently empty.
“I just never bothered to fill up the the tank because, how far was the studio anyway? Just a few blocks.”
“Pinball Wizard” — Who songwriter Pete Townshend was one track away from completing the soundtrack to “Tommy.” Once he found out that influential rock critic Nik Cohn — a noted pinball fanatic — was going to review the project, Townshend crafted this song to ensure a good review.
“American Woman” — Far from being a complimentary song, The Guess Who’s smash was an inspired rant against America’s imperialistic, pompous attitude, especially at the time of the Vietnam War.
The band, of course, is Canadian.
“The Night Chicago Died” — A fictitious account of gangster Al Capone’s murderous reign over the Windy
City, courtesy of two British writers inspired by American gangster movies.
Fortunately, no real cops were killed during the inspiration for this song.
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” — Paul McCartney’s 1971 unorthodox hit was inspired by his real-life Uncle Albert, who would quote and read from the Bible only when drunk.
Admiral Halsey was a nod to American Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.
“Sister Christian” — Night Ranger’s signature ballad was written by drummer Kelly Keagy for his sister, Christy, who was quickly coming of age. Since the rest of the band thought Keagy was actually singing “Sister Christian,” that became the actual title.
Oh, yeah. “Motoring” is a term for driving around, or “cruising.”
“Rhiannon” — Steve Nicks wrote this after reading the book “Triad” by Mary Leader. It is about a woman who believes she is being possessed by the spirit of a woman named Rhiannon.
Nicks later learned that Rhiannon was a Welsh goddess who shuns a god to marry a mortal man.
“Angie” — Long thought to be about David Bowie’s wife, this Rolling Stones cut was named by Keith Richards, most likely after his daughter Angela.
“In A Gadda Da Vida” — The title was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden.” Someone had written “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” possibly while drunk, on a demo copy of this Iron Butterfly classic.
A record company executive saw it and decided to use it as the title, since it sounded mystical — and Eastern spirituality was big at the time.
Another theory declares that songwriter Doug Ingle, intoxicated at the time, called a cohort to tell him about this new tune and slurred the words.
“Hey Man, Nice Shot” — Filter’s signature song was inspired by the sad tale of a disgraced state official who ended his life during a televised press conference.
Budd Dwyer, Pennsylvania State Treasurer, was indicted for receiving $300,000 in kickbacks following an investigation.
The day before his sentence was to be handed down, Dwyer called a press conference. There, he pulled out a .357 Magnum, placed it in his mouth and shot himself on live television.
“White Room” — The lyrics to this famous Cream song were written by a beat poet named Pete Brown. Brown was simply writing about his new flat (apartment), unfinished and empty.
“La Grange” — ZZ Top’s ode to the “best little whorehouse in Texas,” located just outside La Grange, Tex. When the song was released, it drew so much attention to the illegal activities going on there that the brothel had to cease operations.
“The Ocean” — Led Zeppelin’s tribute to the masses who faithfully attended each and every show.
Persistent rumor also maintains that this tune is really about hell, and the “ocean” of lost souls who wallow in it.
Please, take their hands…
I’ve never seen him fall.
He’d like to be, under the sea…
Man, moments before the ‘nice shot.’
You’d better plan on a third of the wedding budget going towards filling this thing up.