Ever hear a song and wonder who it’s about? Some songs, like Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” are obvious, while other song meanings are a bit unclear. Here are some popular rock songs tributes and disses rumored to be about celebrities.
“You Oughta Know”- Alanis Morissette (1995). She came out with guns- or should I say lyrics- blazing back in 1995 with this song about the messy aftermath of a nasty breakup. But who was it about? Hmm…..well, Full House star Dave Coulier was reportedly the last guy Canadian rocker Alanis Morissette dated before this song was recorded. In 2008 the New York Daily News reported that Coulier admitted the song is indeed about him and his rocky relationship with the singer. The exes later buried the hatchet, in true Joey Gladstone style.
“You’re So Vain”- Carly Simon (1973). The jury is still out on just who this song is about, but for decades fans have speculated it could be about Simon’s exes Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty, or even her husband at the time, singer James Taylor. Simon has also hinted that the song could be based on a composite of a few different men. According to the Carly Simon Official website in 2003 she revealed the identity of the subject of “You’re So Vain” to auction winner, NBC exec Dick Ebersol (winning bid? $50K). Ebersol and Simon later revealed 3 clues: the subject’s name contains the letters E, A and R. Boy, with a clue like that this song could even be about me!
“Rosanna”- Toto /” In Your Eyes”- Peter Gabriel. There’s something about Rosanna. It is widely believed that the 1982 Toto song “Rosanna” is about Desperately Seeking Susan star Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboardist Steve Porcara at the time (Porcara didn’t write the song, however, band mate David Paich may have written it about his friend’s relationship with the actress). A few years later, Arquette, who was now living with singer Peter Gabriel, was rumored to be the inspiration for Gabriel’s song “In Your Eyes”. The song achieved iconic success when it was featured in the 1989 movie Say Anything, boom box and all.
“Man on the Moon”- R.E.M. (1992). This song from the album Automatic For the People referenced the late comedian Andy Kaufman by name and the accompanying video featured footage of Kaufman, so there’s no doubt as to who this song is about. Later, “Man on the Moon” became the title of a Jim Carrey film about Kaufman and the R.E.M song was used on the movie’s soundtrack.
“Calypso” – John Denver (1975). Country boy nature lover John Denver penned this song about his good friend Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his famous research ship. Denver was quite taken with Captain Cousteau, as can be seen in this interview , and they became close friends. Sadly the two men passed away just months apart in 1997. Truly a sad year for all of us.
“Killing Me Softly”- Roberta Flack (1973). The music of Mr. “American Pie”, singer Don McLean, was the subject of this hit song by Roberta Flack, but “Pie” wasn’t the song she was referencing. Still, according to Blender the song penned by Lori Lieberman and Norman Gimbel is about one of McLean’s songs-the little known “Empty Chairs”. Two decades later The Fugees resurrected the song.
“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”- Cosby Still and Nash (1969). CSN’s Stephen Stills wrote this suite of mini songs song about then-girlfriend, singer/songwriter Judy Collins, who reportedly left him for another man (actor Stacy Keach, possibly?). More than 4 decades after their breakup, the pair recorded the duet “Last thing on My Mind” for Collins’ 2010 album, Paradise. Oh, and even after all these years her eyes are still unbelievably blue.
YouTube- John Denver Talks About Calypso