Art imitates life, and life imitates art.
Because life contains moments of sadness and joy, these things tend to appear in works of art, including popular songs. In fact, sometimes tragic events or disasters are needed for some legendary songs as a reference.
We all know that sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll are an inseparable package like jam, jelly, and white bread. But sometimes more terrible things can be an inspiration for their songs. Here are five rock songs that are inspired by real, horrific events.
5. A Day in the Life – the Beatles
Everyone must know the Beatles, and almost everyone likes it. From their early careers with typical Moptop hair to the psychedelic realm, The Beatles always have something new for every different musical taste. With an expanse of ideas for each of his works, The Beatles also included a real event in one of their masterpieces, A Day in the Life. A tragic car accident inspired this song.
In the biography of Hunter Davies, John Lennon explains that the first lyric of the song, which began, “I read the news today oh boy / About a lucky man who made the grade” is about the death of Tara Brown, a London socialite, heir to the Guinness beer wealth. And friends of the Beatles and Rolling Stones personnel.
Brown drove his sports car at high speed and allegedly failed to see the red light change so that it collided with a parked truck. He died of his injuries the following day. Lennon did not 100% include the accident in this song because McCartney himself helped and added some elements of drugs into it. Nevertheless, this song is still scary, even before it finishes on time.
4. Adam’s Song – Blink 182
The punk-pop band, Blink-182, is indeed famous for its seriousness in his career. They once ran naked through a set of music videos and sang silly songs about prank phone calls. But this California trio still has a serious side too, and that side was expressed in their 2000 hit, Adam’s Song.
With lyrics like, “I’m too depressed to go on / You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” it’s not hard to know the inspiration behind this song.
According to the 2004 Washington Post article, this song was written after the band received a suicide letter from a fan. Fortunately, the fan survived his suicide attempt.
But an irony occurred when Greg Barnes, a 17-year-old high school student who had witnessed the horror of the Columbine High School massacre, hung himself in his garage with the song Adam’s Song played on a CD. Mark Hoppus later told MTV that he was saddened to hear the suicide news, and reiterated that the essence of this song was about overcoming depression and thoughts of suicide, not to surrender to him.
3. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton, the Slowhand from England who started his fame with the band Cream, was named the second largest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. His hit songs like Layla and Cocain are thick with psychedelic nuances, but nothing can beat his most emotional song, Tears in Heaven.
In the song, Clapton tells of his son, Conor, who was only four years old when he fell from the 53rd floor in one of New York’s apartments in 1991.
“Would you know my name / If I saw you in heaven?”
The lyrics above show Clapton’s intense sadness after the accident. Since then, he said that this song serves as a means to channel his sadness.
2. Jeremy – Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam was one of the four grunge kings in the 90s. One of their debut songs, Jeremy, is famous for being sung with a haunting rage. This song was written based on a 15-year-old boy named Jeremy who shot himself in front of his classmates at a Texas, high school in 1991.
Frontman Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, immediately wrote a song after reading the incident in a newspaper article. As the story goes, the boy left the classroom, returned with a .357 Magnum revolver, walked to the front of the class, put the gun barrel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.
The repetitive lyrics “Jeremy speaks in class today” is a metaphor that alludes to the fact that Jeremy’s classmates describe him as a quiet boy. Maybe you will be more shudder if you see the eyes of Vedder in this Jeremy music video.
1. Polly – Nirvana
Frontman Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, is known to have an obsession with all sorts of strange things. One of Nirvana’s most famous songs, Smells Like Teen Spirit, is an alternative song for teenage anxiety, whose inspiration comes from the female deodorant brand. Of the many songs, Polly can be regarded as their song that has the most terrible background.
The soft acoustic song was inspired by a newspaper article read by Cobain, about a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured with a torch by a serial rapist named Gerald Arthur Friend in 1987. Similar to what Springsteen did in Nebraska, Cobain took Friend’s perspective on writing songs, and almost humanized them through relaxed tones and lyrics.
Now that was 5 rock songs that were inspired by real, horrific events. Whatever bad events that have happened, make it as a lesson so that it does not happen again in the future.