Ripped From The Headlines I

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Playlists
I Don’t Like Mondays–Boomtown Rats
Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old San Diego high school student lived across from an elementary school. On Monday, January 29, 1979, she opened fire on the school with a rifle, killing 2 adults (including the principal) and injuring 9 kids before going back to her home. Police surrounded her home and waited for 7 hours until she gave herself up. In that time, she spoke with a reporter on the phone. When asked why she did it, she replied, “I just started shooting, that’s it. I just did it for the fun of it. I just don’t like Mondays. I just did it because it’s a way to cheer the day up. Nobody likes Mondays.”
What’s The Frequency Kenneth?–R.E.M.
 In 1986, CBS news anchor Dan Rather was attacked on a New York City sidewalk by a crazed man yelling “Kenneth, what is the frequency.” The man turned out to be William Tager, who was caught when he killed a stagehand outside of the Today Show studios 9 years later. Tager, who is serving a 25 year sentence, was convinced the media was beaming signals into his head, and that he was on a mission to determine their frequencies.
Juarez–Tori Amos
Tori Amos read an article about several hundred women in Juarez, Mexico, who had been taken out to the desert and brutally raped and murdered. When they didn’t come home, their brothers would go and look for them, and many times they’d find nothing. Sometimes they’d find a hair barrette or a sock or something they knew was their sister’s. The authorities haven’t really done anything about it.

The Way–Fastball
Lela and Raymond Howard, an elderly couple from Salado, Texas drove to a nearby family reunion and kept going. She had Alzheimer’s disease and he was recovering from brain surgery. When they disappeared, a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman wrote a series of articles about the missing couple. The couple was found at the bottom of a canyon in Arkansas about a 3-day drive from their destination.  Fastball wrote a romanticized take on what happened so as to give the story a playful tone and a happy ending.
She’s Leaving Home–Beatles
On February 27th, 1967 the London Daily Mail‘s headline read: “A-level girl dumps car and vanishes.” That girl was 17-year-old Melanie Coe, who had ran away from home leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here.” McCartney said in, “that story was my inspiration. There was a lot of these at the time and that was enough to give us the storyline. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant. I like it as a song and when I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly.”
Grapevine Fires–Deathcab For Cutie
Centered around the 2007 wildfires in California.  Ben Gibbard explained to VH1 News: “I was in LA, after we were there for the Grammys or something like that and I decided to stay a couple more days. I ended up with a couple friends of mine, Jonathan Rice and our friend Autumn de Wilde who’s a great photographer, and her daughter. It’s a very literal story. We were having some wine and having a picnic on top of this big cascading hill with the ocean off in the distance, and at the time there were a lot of fears about these fires creeping down from the grapevine. This was a very real moment, just seeing her daughter, playing in this cemetery. It struck me as this really powerful image of a child playing in a cemetery, not having any understanding of what this area means. It was a really interesting example of youth having a way with death.”
Let’s Roll–Neil Young
Young wrote this after reading about Todd Beamer, one of the passengers of Flight 93, (the plane that was hijacked on September 11, 2001, but crashed in Pennsylvania before hitting the terrorists’ target) who fought the hijackers and crashed the plane. Beamer called an Airfone operator to explain that they were going to rush the terrorists. Before he hung up, the operator heard him tell the other passengers, “Let’s Roll.”
18 And Life–Skid Row
Dave Sabo wrote this song after reading in a Toms River, New Jersey newspaper about an 18-year-old boy who shot his friend by accident. He thought the gun wasn’t loaded, and eventually ended up in prison for life. His friend is paralized for life from the neck down
Ohio–Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
On  May 4, 1970,  the US National Guard shot 4 unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio. Neil Young wrote this shortly after seeing a news report on the tragedy. It was released 10 days after the shootings.
Right Here, Right Now–Jesus Jones
Inspired by events in Eastern Europe of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Jeremy–Pearl Jam
based on the true story of Jeremy Delle, a 16 year old who killed himself in front of his English class at Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas.
Hey Man, Nice Shot–Filter
Budd Dwyer, the Pennsylvania state treasurer,  was tried and found guilty of racketeering, bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. On January 22, 1987, he called a press conference where he pulled out a gun, put it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. He died instantly as cameras rolled and people in the room screamed. At least one TV station ran the footage on their local news.  Filter took a lot of heat from people who felt this song was glorifying suicide. In response, the band released this statement: “The song ‘Hey Man Nice Shot’ is a reaction to a well-documented public suicide. It is not a celebration or glorification of taking one’s own life. The phrase ‘hey man, nice shot’ is a reference to the final act itself, an expression of guts and determination of a person standing up for what they believe is right. We are extremely sensitive and respectful to the family and friends of Mr. Dwyer. We have both lost friends to suicide and felt nothing but sympathy and loss for the victims, and those involved in such a tragedy.”
Red Letter Day–Ani DiFranco
Ani considers New Orleans to be her second home and favorite place to record. ‘Red Letter Day ‘contains the first batch of songs that she wrote post-Katrina. She told Billboard magazine that this song’s sharp critique highlights the fact that, “Katrina is still happening to a lot of people in New Orleans.”

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