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The Girls in the Songs

Two rock writers track down the babes who inspired a pantheon of guitar gods

The girls in the songs were frequently members of the Rolling Stones coterie, too. “Hey Negrita,” for one, was sparked by Mick Jagger’s wife Bianca. She later made it clear that having a pop song written for you is no guarantor of marital bliss: “My marriage ended on my wedding day.” Another Stones standby, “Miss Amanda Jones,” reportedly honors one Amanda Lear — who, claims The Girl in the Song, may have undergone a sex-change operation in Casablanca in 1963, possibly paid for by surrealist Salvador Dalí.

The award for Most Inspiring Transgender Muse, however, must go to Candy Darling — born James Slattery — who is credited with inspiring the Kinks hit “Lola.” James-cum-Candy likewise inspirited the Velvet Underground to write “Candy Says” and Morrissey to compose “You Know I Couldn’t Last.” She even merited a mention in Lou Reed’s far-better-known “Walk on the Wild Side.”

As you may have gathered, the book abounds with muses unmoved by their enshrinement in song. Stephen Stills composed “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” hoping to recapture the heart of songstress Judy Collins, only to have her remark, “It was beautiful, so beautiful… too bad it’s not going to work.” By the same token, “Our House” — a celebration of his infatuation with Joni Mitchell by a hopelessly smitten Graham Nash — failed to persuade Mitchell to buy into the song’s vaunted connubial bliss; Mitchell broke it off with Nash in 1969. (Commerce reconstituted the ashes of love, however: A U.K. bank ultimately used the song in a mortgage commercial.)

It’s nice to be celebrated in a song, sure, but some muses rightfully wound up feeling exploited. Take Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto: The real-life “girl from Ipanema” was just 15 years old when her extreme pulchritude spurred Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes to compose the bossa-nova anthem that brought her worldwide fame — and not a single centavo in royalties. When Heloísa later opened a boutique called “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”), the heirs of the song composers sued, claiming a trademark violation. But Heloísa stood her ground. “They want to prohibit me from being the girl from Ipanema,” she commonsensically pointed out, “which is really going too far.”

The judge agreed, calling to mind another pop classic: “You Don’t Own Me.”

Dave Shiflett is an author, journalist and songwriter. The girls in his own songs can be found at daveshiflett.com.

 

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