About This Book


Ever wondered what inspired your favorite songs? What was going on in the songwriter's life at the time? Who those lyrics were really about? Did he really write the song on a napkin? Many of music's most famous names reveal the stories behind their best-known songs. Many of these exclusive stories are told for the first time. Photos and lyrics are included too. You will never listen to these songs the same way again. A great gift for anyone who loves music, any age.

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The lessons behind five of your favorite songs
Inspired by stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Jo-Ann Geffen

Sometimes it's like your favorite songs were written just for you. "Eye of the Tiger" seems to be made for your workout; Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" is best belted out by you and your friends on karaoke night, and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" gave you that golden moment during a school dance. But have you ever wondered what really inspired those songs? What are the lessons and the stories behind the lyrics of your life's soundtrack? The answers might surprise you!

1. Don't give up. Before it became the break-up anthem of 2008, "Apologize" (Written by lead singer and guitarist, Ryan Tedder, recorded by OneRepublic) sat for five years, as record label after record label passed on it. Ryan recognized the strength of the song. It was his kiss-off to the many women who dumped him for a "bad boy," only to come back months later, apologizing and wanting him back. "I got tired of hearing 'I'm sorry' and realized I value myself more than that," he shares. And Ryan never gave up on the song. Eventually Interscope Records picked it up and released the single. It hit #1 in countries all over the world and made history by receiving more air time than any other single ever.

2. There's always a silver lining. It wasn't exactly love that made Lamont Dozier, co-author of "Stop! In the Name of Love" (Written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., recorded by The Supremes), stop what he was doing. It was an angry girlfriend pounding on the door. Caught at a motel with another woman, Lamont opened the door to face his fuming girlfriend, who had a baseball bat clutched in her hand. When she demanded, "Why don't you stop?" he wryly replied, "Why don't you stop in the name of love?" Immediately, Lamont knew he had a catchy title. So the next morning at the studio, when he found Brian at the piano playing a hook, Lamont smiled and said he had the perfect title for the song.

3. Keeping a promise can yield unexpected benefits. Listen to the ballad "Hey There Delilah" and you'd think Delilah and Tom Higgenson — lead singer, guitar player and songwriter for the Plain White T's — have been dating for years. The surprising truth? Delilah and Tom never actually dated. Tom met his beautiful muse through a friend and was instantly attracted. Though she had a boyfriend and was soon leaving for New York, Tom promised he'd write her a song, which he did, and then recorded with the Plain White T's. It became an inside joke that it would be a hit and she'd be his date for the Grammys. Though the love affair never took off, the song did, reaching #1 in 10 countries. Delilah did accompany Tom to the award show, but only as a friend.

4. Inspiration can happen anytime, anywhere. Inspired while driving on the freeway, Amanda McBroom rushed home and jotted down the lyrics circling in her head. It only took her ten minutes and "The Rose," both lyrics and melody, was written. She played it for her husband George in the living room and he hailed it as a standard. Amanda wrote off the compliment — she didn't consider herself a songwriter. A year or so later, a songwriting friend told her about an upcoming movie called The Rose that was looking for a title song. The song was submitted, and the producers hated it. Paul Rothchild, the music supervisor, was intrigued though. He asked the producers to reconsider. They did and again the answer was no. It wasn't until Bette Midler herself was given a copy of the song that it was approved. Bette Midler recorded it, changing Amanda's life forever.

5. Sharing personal stories makes for great songs. The song "Hands," written by Jewel Kilcher and Patrick Leonard, and recorded by Jewel is truly about Jewel's own life. There really was a grabby boss who didn't pay her when she said no, and then Jewel, herself, really did shoplift from a grocery store when she was broke. She was 18, homeless and without options. But it was when she considered stealing a $39 dress that she realized she needed to regain her self-confidence. She thought about what her hands were doing and the lyrics to "Hands" poured out of her. After writing the song, Jewel realized that even though she felt powerless, there was hope. The song has also given hope to many people and became a radio mainstay in the aftermath of September 11th. "You have to keep fighting for what you believe in," Jewel says.

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Story Titles and Authors