The story behind the song/song lyrics

Continuing the discussion from Songs that make you cry:

When I saw the lyrics of Ebony Eyes, I had to look up the history to see if this sad tale really happened.

It turns out that the song is fictional but BBC banned it at first because it was too upsetting.

What are some stories behind other songs?

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

I’d listened to this song so often when I was a teen thinking that it was a bit of a drag. Now, at a mature age, this song has taken on a special meaning for me because, while listening to it again some time ago, I suddenly realised that it reflects the relationship I’ve been having with my twin brother. I made my brother aware of it and he agreed. Later on, while complaining to me that I was letting the relationship slide again, he referred to this song asking me if a printout of the lyrics would still be on my notice board. Now the song has become a kind of code for the two of us reminding us to be more attentive to each other. It even has the potential of being played at the funeral of who died first.

James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy in his 1884 book The Parables of Jesus. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied: “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”

In the Guardian newspaper of February 24, 2006, Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks said: “In the 1960s when we were short of songs I used to root around publishers in Denmark Street. One afternoon, I’d been there ages and wanted to get going but this bloke said: ‘Well there’s one more song. It’s probably not for you.’ He played me the demo by the writers [Bobby Scott and Bob Russell]. It sounded like a 45rpm record played at 33rpm, the singer was slurring, like he was drunk. But it had something about it. There were frowns when I took it to the band but we speeded it up and added an orchestra. The only things left recognizable were the lyrics. There’d been this old film called Boys Town about a children’s home in America, and the statue outside showed a child being carried aloft and the motto He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Bob Russell had been dying of cancer while writing. We never got, or asked for, royalties. Elton John - who was still called Reg - played piano on it and got paid 12 pounds. It was a worldwide hit twice.”

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“When the Levee Breaks”

First recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy and famously covered by
Led Zeppelin.Recounts the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

Heroes by David Bowie.

Song about his producer and girlfriend meeting by the Berlin Wall.

Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed.
All the characters in it are based on real people.

Probably the most famous based on a book:

Strange Fruit
by Lewis Allen (pseudonym)
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and twisted mouth,
The scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
That’s the poem that inspired this song about the lynching of African Americans.

This is about the Sunset Strip curfew riots of the 60’s.

@Psmith Thanks for your selection.

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Apparently " The Macerena song" is about when the husband goes off to work in the forces,the wife has many men knowing the husband will not be home for months.
I can`t stand the song or the stupid dance that goes with it…

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Well, only two friends, so. . .:wink:

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John Lennon and George Harrison were on a meditation course in India with Prudence Farrow,the sister of actress Mia.She got so obsessed with it that John wrote a song about it.

Gerry Rafferty: “everybody was suing each other, so I spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers” On the journey he was reading
The Outsider by Colin Wilson(a book about alienation )and when in London he stayed in a friend’s flat in Baker Street.

Well, if friends with their fancy persuasion
Don’t admit that it’s part of a scheme
But I can’t help but have my suspicions
‘Cause I ain’t quite as dumb as I seem
And you said you was never intendin’
To break up our scene in this way
But there ain’t any use in pretendin’
It could happen to us any day

A cheating lover ? No. It’s about the band’s bass playing with other groups.

Gimme Hope Jo’anna" is a British anti-apartheid song written and originally released by Eddy Grant in 1988, during the apartheid era in South Africa.

The song was banned by the South African government when it was released, but was widely played here in South Africa. It was played in defiance of the SA apartheid government. It’s a famous struggle song in South Africa and the oppressed here were grateful to see the world taking a firmer stance against apartheid.

It reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart becoming Grant’s first British top 10 hit!

Jo’anna = Johannesburg.

Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

“The lyrics are bleak, but essentially so, and a welcome change from the bromides of mistletoe and the saccharine Christmas fare that is usually served up,” says Sting, recalling the charity single he recorded 30 years ago – on November 25th – as a member of the mostly-British supergroup.

Nearly 40 artists – many of the biggest acts of the early Eighties, like Duran Duran Culture Club, Wham!, even a then-bubbling-under U2– converged that day at London’s Sarm Studios in response to a harrowing BBC report on the starving victims of the Ethiopian famine.

And every year since, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” reminds us, as we gobble down our holiday dinners, that “there’s a world outside your window/it’s a world of dread and fear.”

This is one of the many songs written either by Ronnie or with collaboration of The Dubliners.
Ronnie (Joseph Ronald Drew) told me this was written from experience when he left his home town of Dún Laoghaire to teach English in Spain and also perfect his Spanish. He died in 2008 at 73 … RIP Ronnie