"Eight Days a Week” by the Beatles (1964)
Blame this sweet pop hit on Paul McCartney, 78, having a bit of a lead foot. In 1963, McCartney was fined £31 and had his driver's license revoked for a year after receiving too many speeding tickets. Later, as a chauffeur drove him out to John Lennon's house in Weybridge for a songwriting session, McCartney started making small talk. “I said, ‘How've you been?'” he recalled in the 2000 Beatles Anthology book. “'Oh, working hard,’ he said, ‘working eight days a week.'” McCartney ran inside the house, knowing he had a perfect title, and the duo wrote the song in the next hour.
"Layla” by Derek and the Dominos (1971)
If you've listened to this rock classic or the 1992 Unplugged version, you might assume Eric Clapton, 75, was truly, madly, deeply in love with a woman named Layla — but it turns out that the real story goes back more than a millennium. A Muslim friend of Clapton's had given the guitar legend a copy of the 12th-century Persian poem “Layla and Majnun,” which was itself based on a 7th-century Arabian story, about a young man driven mad by his unrequited love for a woman from a rival clan. When Clapton fell in love with Pattie Boyd, 76, George Harrison's wife, he turned to the poem for inspiration; he once wrote the following inside a book he gave her: “Dear Layla, for nothing more than the pleasures past I would sacrifice my family, my God, and my own existence, and still you will not move.” Though “Layla and Majnun” ends with both lovers dead, Clapton and Boyd eventually married. She inspired the 1977 hit “Wonderful Tonight"; they divorced in 1989.
"Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters (1960)
Stricken with polio as a child, songwriter Doc Pomus later began using a wheelchair after a bad fall down the stairs. During his wedding to Broadway actress Willi Burke, he was unable to join her on the dance floor, and she danced instead with his brother, Raoul Felder. In the book Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus, author Alex Halberstadt recounts a story about how Pomus later found a wedding invitation in a hatbox and jotted down the lyrics as the memories of that night came flooding back. “But don't forget who's takin’ you home, and in whose arms you're gonna be,” he wrote. “So darling, save the last dance for me.” First recorded by the Drifters, the song has been covered by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Leonard Cohen and Michael Bublé. In a rock history twist, Pomus’ daughter later gave the lyrics-covered invitation to a friend from the neighborhood: Lou Reed.
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