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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Say my name, say my name

Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20.

Four well-known songs with nominal inspirations

Inspiration for music can be found anywhere and everywhere, from anyone and everyone. Many artists write songs based upon people they love, people they hate, and sometimes just people they meet in a bar. Here are four songs that you may not have known were based on real people.

“Andy, You’re a Star”- The Killers

The Andy in this song is based on a real person, Andy Messersmith, who Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers, went to Juab High School with. Andy was the popular, athletic jock who thought it was cool to hang out in parking lots, and used to bully Flowers in high school. The song is meant to be satirical, mocking Messersmith because he became a gym teacher at the high school he and Flowers attended, while The Killers toured stadiums around the world. The song is a reminder to Messersmith that the height of his stardom will always be his high school career—he never grew out of his high school self and that’s pretty much who he will always be. Allegedly, Messersmith has banned students from singing the song.

“Nancy Mulligan”- Ed Sheeran

Performed from the perspective of Ed Sheeran’s grandfather, William Sheeran, this song tells the story of how William met his wife Nancy. Though William was a Protestant and Nancy a Catholic (“She and I went on the run/Don’t care about religion”) they did not let the religious divide (pun definitely intended) of Ireland stand in the way of their love. This song embodies many Irish musical characteristics as well. The rhythm of the song is set to an Irish trad song (a traditional Irish song that focuses on instrumentation, as it generally includes a fiddle, piano and pipe) allowing it to be a perfect song for drinking, dancing and nostalgia.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”- The Beatles

Contrary to popular belief, this Beatles classic is NOT about LSD. With “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” turning 50 years old this year, Rolling Stone magazine composed a song by song analysis of each song on the album, including the ever famous “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” In a 1970 Rolling Stone interview John Lennon claimed “I swear to God, or swear to Mao, or to anybody you like, I had no idea it spelt LSD. But nobody believes me.” The song was actually based on a painting Lennon’s son, Julian, created of a classmate, Lucy O’Donnell. Julian told his father that the painting was of “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” and Lennon loved the phrase so much he wrote a song about it. Sadly, O’Donnell died in 2009 after years of suffering with Lupus. Now, it would seem the song has an even deeper, more sentimental meaning to it than just a childhood painting—Lucy really is in the sky with diamonds.

“Hey Jude”- The Beatles

Here’s yet another tune the Fab Four wrote about someone they knew. Speaking of Julian Lennon, Paul McCartney wrote the song “Hey Jude” in honor of John Lennon’s son. When Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia, and began dating Yoko Ono, Julian felt distressed. McCartney wrote the song as a way to comfort Julian (and millions of other people who wished their name was Jude) and help him through that difficult time in his life. But why, Jude and not Julian? The song is entitled “Hey Jude” simply because McCartney felt it would be easier to sing and sounded better than Julian or Jules.

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