Songwriters draw inspiration from a lot of different sources – love, loss, the desire to get laid, party rocking, shouting at the devil, sandmen showing up, etc. – but it’s always interesting in a completely voyeuristic way whenever a musician writes a song inspired by another celebrity. It gives insight into two different people in one burst of creativity and also satiates that weird need people have to know all the gory details of a celebrity’s life. Some of the songs on this list were written as tributes, in admiration, while others were written to serve as the ultimate fuck you to someone who did them dirty. In the end, what all of these eight songs have in common is that they were all about someone famous.
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8 “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
Written About/Inspired By: Dave Coulier
Wait… one of Alanis Morissette’s biggest hits was about Uncle Joey from Full House? Indeed. Apparently, the two used to date and – to put it mildly – it did not end well. It’s hard to imagine that doofus Uncle Joey as a heartbreaker or, really, as a person in possession of working male genitalia, but I guess he had enough going on to get Alanis to fall for him. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we should have seen this coming after that episode of Full House when Uncle Joey seduced Kimmy Gibbler, banged her a few times and then coldly broke her heart. Plus, you just can’t trust a man who talks to people through a ventriloquist’s dummy beaver named Mr. Woodchuck. Clearly the man was a deranged degenerate. We all should have known. Next, we’ll probably learn that 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” was written about Danny Tanner. God only knows what went on in that den of sin known as Full House.
7 “Rosanna” by Toto
Written About/Inspired By: Rosanna Arquette
In the early ‘80s, Rosanna Arquette of the (kinda) famous Arquette family, was dating Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro, so it would make sense that he would write a song about her, right? Well, uh, not so fast. It turns out that “Rosanna,” written about Arquette and one of Toto’s biggest hits, wasn’t even written by Porcaro. Instead, it was written by David Paich, the band’s other keyboardist (yes, for some reason they had more than one keyboard player, which is pretty much the most ‘80s thing there is) and Porcaro’s longtime friend. Which, uh… that’s gotta be at least a little awkward, right? Imagine being Porcaro and having your best friend come to you with his newest song, which is all about your girlfriend. To be fair, Rosanna Arquette is a woman and women have boobs and dudes like boobs, so really everyone’s hands were tied. I mean, it’s science. Still, that’s a little weird, right? No word on whether the band’s hit “Hold the Line” was written about an illicit rendezvous at a ski resort towrope between Paich and David Arquette, but I think we should all start that rumor right now.
6 “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
Written About/Inspired By: Linda Blair
Yes, Rick James wrote his hit “Cold Blooded” about his girlfriend at the time, The Exorcist actress/demon, Linda Blair. Then again, since it’s Rick James, it’s possible that he was so high that he thought he was dating a giant monitor lizard, which explains the whole cold blooded thing. As far as Blair goes, though, it’s got to be weird having a love song called “Cold Blooded” written about you. I mean, that’s kind of a mixed message, right? Then again, I guess it would be better than being the inspiration for “Super Freak.” Unless, of course, Linda Blair was indeed super freaky, and I see no reason to believe otherwise. I mean, she turned her head on a swivel, vomited pea soup all over everyone and had an outrageously filthy mouth in The Exorcist so who the hell only knows what kind of wild shit she pulled off in bed?
5 “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John
Written About/Inspired By: Billie Jean King
This one is probably the weirdest song on this list, simply because it doesn’t really make any damn sense. Apparently, the song was written for King, Elton’s friend, and her professional tennis team (yeah, they actually tried that in the 70s) the Philadelphia Freedoms. What’s weird is that Elton John never actually wrote any of his lyrics. They were written by his long-time songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, who claims that the actual lyrics have nothing to do with Billie Jean King and that he only wrote the damn thing because Elton told him to. Then again, things start to make a little more sense when you realize that this song came out in 1975, the same year as Elton John’s cocaine overdose. I mean, the dude performed high off his ass in a giant duck costume so really, a random song about Billie Jean King is pretty far down on the list of weird shit the dude did while on the fruit of the coca plant. We’ll know if Elton’s back on the yay if “New York Yankee” inspired by Derek Jeter ever sees the light of day.
4 “Sexy Sadie” by The Beatles
Written About/Inspired By: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
John Lennon apparently wrote “Sexy Sadie” just as the band was departing, disillusioned, from their retreat to the Maharishi’s place in India. Instead of enlightenment from the famed meditation guru, all Lennon got was rumors about the Maharishi sexually harassing members of the band’s entourage. The song was actually originally titled “Maharishi” but was changed at the request of George Harrison, the one member of the band who actually bought what the Maharishi was selling. Some of the lyrics were even changed. According to Mark Lewisohn, who wrote a book about The Beatles recording sessions, an outtake from the recording of “Sexy Sadie” features Lennon singing the following lyrics: “Maharishi, you little twat/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Oh, you cunt.” Well, okay then. I guess it’s safe to say John Lennon was not a fan.
3 “Dear John” by Taylor Swift
Written About/Inspired By: John Mayer
Eeeew. No one wants to think about John Mayer defiling Taylor Swift but, well, apparently it happened. And apparently, John Mayer’s penis makes women crazy, which is an STD women everywhere should know about, because after he coldly snapped Taylor Swift’s heart in two, she wrote “Dear John,” a hit piece (well, as much as a Taylor Swift song can ever be considered a hit piece; I mean, it’s not like she’s Tupac) in which she bitches and complains and falls just short of claiming he’s the devil. A quick perusal of the song’s lyrics is like reading the diary of a wronged and hormonal teenage girl, which, well, that’s pretty much what it is. Especially damning is this lyric: “Dear John, I see it all now it was wrong/Don’t you think 19’s too young to be played by your dark twisted games?” Damn! What the hell did John Mayer do to that poor girl? Dark, twisted games? Does that mean he’s, like, a furry or something? Could he only get off if Taylor wore a chipmunk suit? Did he actually reveal himself to be Voldemort once they were in bedroom? What the hell happened? Whatever happened, it messed poor Taylor Swift up and gave us all further proof that John Mayer is most likely a gigantic douchebag.
2 “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
Written About/Inspired By: Probably Warren Beatty but there are a lot of candidates
No one wants to be the subject of a song titled “You’re So Vain” but Carly Simon’s hit has spawned damn near a cottage industry devoted to figuring out who the song is about because, well, in the end, we’re all voyeuristic assholes. Simon, for her part, has always played coy about the subject of the song, which has only fueled the fire behind the rampant speculation. Most people think it’s about Warren Beatty. Hell, even he thinks it’s about him and publicly thanked her for writing it, probably because he is indeed a vain asshole. But Simon still won’t confirm whether Beatty is the ex-lover who inspired the song or not. Other candidates are Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte, ex-husband James Taylor, David Bowie, David Cassidy, Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson and a whole host of other famous and not so famous dudes which honestly, just kind of makes Carly Simon look like a big ol’ slut, right? I mean, someone needs to give this song a paternity test because she doesn’t even know who the father is. It’s probably Warren Beatty, but, hey, that lyric has David Bowie’s eyes and that one has Nick Nolte’s sense of drunken despair. God only knows who “Nobody Does it Better” is about.
1 “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John
Written About/Inspired By: Marilyn Monroe
Rewritten About/Re-Inspired By: Princess Di
I guess Elton John likes writing songs about famous women, huh? Honestly, though, no other song could be number one on this list since, somehow, Elton managed to have smashing success with it two different times in his career singing it about two totally different women. That level of sheer cynical commercialism is so over the top that I’m almost impressed. I mean, come on, he wrote the song about Marilyn Monroe and then a few years later when his friend, Princess Di, crashed and burned (literally) he didn’t even bother to write a new song. He just saw an opportunity to drag the old song out of mothballs and pass it off as a tribute to Dianna. And people actually bought that shit! Bravo, Sir Elton. Bravo! I can’t wait until Lindsay Lohan’s head collapses from too much coke in a few years and Elton trots out “Candle in the Wind 2015” as his special “tribute.” Pre-order your copy today!
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