Gwen Stefani’s Inspiration For “Hollaback Girl” And Other Stories Behind Your Favorite Top Songs

Top songs are everywhere. They’re in your car radio, you listen to them at work, and we all danced to them at parties. But with every song comes a story and meaning. For instance, Paul McCartney wrote: “Hey Jude” to comfort John Lennon’s song, Julian, during his parent’s divorce.

It’s stuff like that which makes these tunes even more important. What about these other top songs? The stories behind them will change how you listen to them.

“I Shot The Sheriff” By Bob Marley Is All About Birth Control

Peter Still/Redferns/Getty Images
Peter Still/Redferns/Getty Images

A former girlfriend of Marley claims it’s about birth control. She and the late musician had disagreements over her use of birth control. Marley believed that using birth control was a sin and the “doctor who prescribed those baby-killing pills became the sheriff.”

Whatever his original intent was, it became an anthem against corruption and injustice.

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” By Noël Regeny and Gloria Shayne Baker Was Released During The Cold War

The Christmas classic was written in 1962. Noël Regeny and Gloria Shayne Baker wrote the song during the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis. They were recording in the studio listening to the radio, fearing that nuclear missiles were going to strike.

That’s why they wrote it about the Nativity Story during the war.

“Swimming Pools” By Kendrick Lamar Is Not Your Typical Party Anthem

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Image
Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Image

Ironically speaking, the so-called party anthem isn’t all about the good times the come with drinking. Instead, the Grammy-winning rapper’s single is about alcoholism.

He speaks about the additional influence from his peers and the social pressure pressed upon him to “get a swimming pool full of liquor” and then “dive in it.”

“Smoke On The Water” By Deep Purple Was About A Rocket That Launched In A Casino

Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

The noticeable guitar riff was written after someone launched a rocket inside a casino during a Frank Zappa concert. A fire soon broke out, destroying the casino complex.

The title “Smoke on the Water” came about after Roger Glover saw the smoke roll over Lake Geneva.

“The Way” By Fastball Was Interpreted About Youth And A Road Trip, But There’s A Dark Twist To It

Rick Kern/Getty Images
Rick Kern/Getty Images

In a dark twist, “The Way” was inspired by a news story of an old couple who disappeared at a festival in Texas.

When the band recorded the single, they read in the newspaper that the couple was found dead at the bottom of a canyon in their Oldsmobile vehicle.

The Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right To Party” Is Not About Partying

Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images

In reality, the Beasties were parodying all the songs at the time singing about partying. Adam Yauch was making fun of it all, but people often miss the admitted irony.

“The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our values are completely different.”

“MMMBop” By Hanson Could Have Been A Completely Different Tune

SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images
SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

The catchy one-hit wonder song was a huge success in 1996. However, Hanson has stated that the song was supposed to have a somber tone to meet its intended meaning.

The song is about the futility of life and how the things you think are important are going to be gone once you’re older.

“Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” By BTO Started Out As A Recorded Joke

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Randy Bachman stammered all the words, like “You ain’t seen n-n-nothing yet.” He did it on purpose because his brother, Gary, had a horrible stammer at the time. He would tease his brother they were going to put it on the album.

Their producer intervened, saying it was their only potential hit song.

“There She Goes” By Sixpence None The Richer Was A Cover

Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/Getty Images

The widely popular song of the nineties was written and sung by The La’s. While it seems as though it’s about a girl always getting away, it’s not.

Instead, it’s about the fleeting feeling after someone takes heroin and the addiction that comes with it afterward.

“Semi-Charmed Life” By Third Eye Blind Had A Darker Meaning

Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Governors Ball
Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Governors Ball

The “Doo-doo-doos” is catchy, but this poppy tune is about falling apart and someone dealing with drug addiction. Stephen Jenkins wanted the riffs to feel shiny and bright to mimic the feeling of being on speed.

The song was also meant to be a response to Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side.”

“Dude Looks Like A Lady” By Aerosmith Was Inspired By Motley Crue

Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images
Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images

Steven Tyler and the rest of the band hung out with Motley Crue. They scoffed at how Motley Crue started every sentence with “dude.” At one point, the group saw what they presumed was a girl with blonde hair, but it was Vince Neil instead.

That moment turned into the riff of “Dude Looks Like A Lady.”

“Poker Face” By Lady Gaga Is Not About Poker

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The main idea behind the song is bisexuality. In the song, Gaga admits to hiding her sexuality, and it was a tribute to her rock and roll boyfriends. The song’s lyrics have various sexual innuendos.

“Poker Face” would become the best-selling single of 2009 with over 9.5 million sales that year.

“One” By Threedog Night Was Inspired By A Phone Call

GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

After making a phone call and getting a busy signal, Harry Nilsson wrote the single. The moment the song begins, the opening tiff imitates the “boop, boop, boop” sound you hear during a busy signal.

Nilsson stayed on the line to use it as inspiration for one of Threedog Night’s best hits.

Courtney Love Picked On Gwen Stefani, So She Clapped Back With “Hollaback Girl”

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

The ex-frontwoman of No Doubt didn’t take kindly to Courtney Love. She picked on Stefani by comparing being famous to being in high school, and stating that “she doesn’t want to be the cheerleader.”

Stefani responded by writing “Hollaback Girl” which was either loved or annoyed by music fans alike.

The Lyrics To “Born To Run” By Bruce Springsteen Are Pretty Harsh

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iStar
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iStar

The Boss’s single almost became the state song of New Jersey. But, it was shut down by the Senate for a particular reason. It’s no surprise why they denied it because the lyrics are pretty harsh.

“Baby, this town rips the bones from your back. It’s a death trap. It’s a suicide trap.”

Chicago’s “25 or 6 To 4” Is Not About LSD

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Many people believe the single is about drugs or being on LSD. However, according to Robert Lamm, the song was written when the band was recording songs late at night.

The song’s title is the time at which the song is set: 25 or 26 minutes before 4 AM.

“Comfortably Numb” By Pink Floyd Is About Being Sick

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The common belief behind Floyd’s timeless single is that the song is about drugs. However, Roger Waters, the one wrote the song, insists it’s something else. It’s actually about what it feels like to be sick when you’re a kid.

That, and being disconnected from reality, which transitions to delirium.

There Is No Such Thing As South Detroit From Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”

Brian Ach/Getty Images for Journey
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Journey

The most overplayed song at the bar has a factual error behind it. Interestingly enough, South Detroit doesn’t exist. When writing the song, Steve Perry tried everything from North Detroit, East and West Detroit.

Little did Perry realize, he found out that “South Detroit” is just the folks in Canada.

“Jump” By Van Halen Is Pretty Dark, If You Know The Lyrics

Waring Abbott/Getty Images
Waring Abbott/Getty Images

The upbeat and enthusiastic tune is pretty dark. David Lee Roth was the one behind the lyric “Go ahead and jump.”

The inspiration for the line came about after he saw a news broadcast of a guy standing on top of Arco Tower, threatening to commit suicide.

Michel Jackson Wrote “Billie Jean” On A Highway

M. Caulfield/WireImage/Getty Images
M. Caulfield/WireImage/Getty Images

The King of Pop became so enamored by his songwriting and the song that he didn’t notice his car had caught on fire. A motorcyclist warned him about it and saved his life in the meantime.

Eventually, this would become one of Jackson’s best-releasing singles of all-time.