Tag Archives: Heart Shaped Box

Michael Jackson’s Black or White Origin

“I Took My Baby
On A Saturday Bang
Boy Is That Girl With You
Yes We’re One And The Same
Now I Believe In Miracles
And A Miracle
Has Happened Tonight
But, If
You’re Thinkin’
About My Baby
It Doesn’t Matter If You’re
Black Or White” – Black or White

Michael Jackson’s song Black or White released in 1991 was inspired by INXS.  In 1982 INXS released a song titled Black and White on their Shabooh Shoobah album.  Of course, having met INXS before meeting MJ in ’83 I pretty much knew all their songs. 

With Michael Hutchence and Tim Farris, we talked about the similarities in our countries in that we shared a history of racism.  It was also a conversation I had with MJ.  Fortunately, I grew up in a South that was changing.  We talked about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Selma, Alabama.  I wanted to break down the barriers of symbols which were found offensive.  Symbols used in the Black or White music video were “KKK” and the swastika.

(Martin Luther King, Jr. and marchers on Selma, AL.  The photo was taken by family friend and fashion photographer Spider Martin who committed suicide 9 years to the day that Kurt Cobain’s body was found. )

By the time of MJ’s release of Black or White, I had written the song “Raise Your Glass” which would go on to be performed by P!nk.  Kurt Cobain would sometimes play air guitar while I would sing and it influenced “Raise Your Glass” and Macaulay Culkin was doing an imitation of Kurt in the Black or White music video.

Kurt also made references to the KKK or other symbols of controversy because of this.

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Three Days Grace

“Every time we lie awake
After every hit we take
Every feeling that I get
But I haven’t missed you yet

Every roommate kept awake
By every sigh and scream we make
All the feelings that I get
But I still don’t miss you yet

Only when I stop to think about it

I hate everything about you”

My mother would sometimes call me Grace when I would trip over my own feet or do something completely clumsy.  One day in late ’94 I had planned a long weekend out of town.  It happened to be a weekend they all wanted to fly in and work on songs with me.  I refused to change my plans.  The voice on the other end of the phone gave me a warning, “Three days, Grace!”  While on the trip my aunt’s home caught fire and she died of smoke inhalation.  To commemorate the day my aunt died, to draw a connection to the element Lithium being atomic #3, and the song “3″ I wrote and would go on to be performed by Britney Spears, I decided to name the band Three Days Grace.

When I made up the song “I Hate Everything About You” it was very much inspired by Nirvana‘s song “Heart Shaped Box” and Def Leppard’s song “Miss You In A HeartbeatJust as this song happened to be written many years before it’s release, so were Nirvana’s and Def Leppard’s.

In 1993, Nirvana recorded “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”.

Both songs were based on Joan Jett & The Blackheart’s ’88 hit song “I Hate Myself for Loving You“.


Imaginary Origin

I linger in the doorway

Of alarm clock screaming

Monsters calling my name

Let me stay

Where the wind will whisper to me

Where the raindrops, as they’re falling, tell a story

Like most American children I grew up watching Sesame Street with my favorite character being the supposed imaginary friend of Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus.  In 1985, 20/20 and 60 Minutes aired a graphic piece about pedophiles and sexually abused children.  Because of this, the writers of Sesame Street decided to finally introduce Snuffy to the main human cast feeling that children might keep quiet about being abused if they felt adults would not believe them.

I had called Kurt Cobain my imaginary friend and would introduce him as John to friends (while he was still unknown).  I would often find things missed placed in my room and not realize Kurt had moved it or even taken it.  It was years before I found out he kept a hair barrette I wore as a little girl with him.  He was also known to change my alarm so I would be late getting up for school.  Most of the time he would just let himself into the house on days he was in town.  I sometimes would walk in finding him feeding my cat or giving her milk.  If you haven’t noticed we both had a thing about cats, naming his Spina Bifida.  When I told him I thought of him as my imaginary friend, he told me I was his and gave me the name Boddah.  Later making the tape of him sounding like a little boy calling for his friend Boddah and then addressing his suicide note to me.

I’ve had some WOW! moments in my life.  One would be hanging with Robert Downey, Jr. while he read lines for a movie and later pitching the idea for him to play the role as Ironman’s Tony Stark.  Another would be Michael Jackson bringing Elizabeth Taylor to meet me.  It was during a time that Richard Burton, her ex-husband, had been very ill.  She kept in touch with him and talked about him a lot that day, reminiscing about their love affair and his affairs.  Unfortunately, Burton passed away August 5, 1984. 

Taylor had starred along with Paul Newman in the ’58 movie Cat On A Hot Tin Roof based on another play by Tennessee Williams (A Street Car Named Desire inspiring Heart Shaped Box, see earlier post).  I told Taylor that Kurt Cobain reminded me a lot of a young Paul Newman in looks.  Kurt didn’t always play the part of the grunge rocker and was actually a very goodlooking guy.

“One of those no-neck monsters hit me with some ice cream” – Maggie The Cat

Not only did I use “monsters” in the lyrics for Imaginary, but it inspired songwriter Draco Rosa’s “Maggie’s Dream” and my artist Lady Gaga calling fans “monsters”.  Draco and I worked on songs for Ricky Martin and others together.

Using different flowers in songs was inspired by the Swiss band Krokus having been on the Rock Till You Drop tour with Def Leppard.  Joe Elliott claims his birthday as August 1st, being the same day in 1981 MTV came online.  This would make his birthflower a Poppy.  Kurt used the image of paper poppy flowers in Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box music video.

 “And watch my purple sky fly over me (flowers)”

This was to draw a direct connection to the song Purple Rain, which I wrote for Prince.

I would go on to make up the song Paper Sun which was released on Def Leppard’s ’99 Euphoria album. 

The lyrics to Paper Sun,  “Is the anger inside of you A gift from father to son” was inspired by the ’87 movie Like Father Like Son, as well as the British band Queen’s ’74 song “Father to Son”. 

Several times in the song Paper Sun I reference another song I wrote, Coming Undone performed by another band I founded named Korn.

Keep holdin’ on when
My brain’s tickin’ like a bomb

The bomb was taken from Pour Some Sugar On Me “Love is like a bomb”

 Guess the black thoughts have
Come again to get me
Sweet bitter words

Sweet bitter words is for 3 song I wrote, one being Sweet Sacrifice, an early song I wrote for INXS named Bitter Tears, and the other being Bittersweet Symphony performed by The Verve.

Unlike nothing I have heard
Sing along mocking bird
You don’t affect me

To Kill A Mockingbird, is a Southern Gothic novel written by Alabama native Harper Lee.

I made reference to my song Change performed by The Deftones, but Kurt Cobain made reference to the lyrics in Bittersweet Symphony “I am here in my mold” in his lyrics for Mexican Seafood.

 “To a fungus mold is my injection”


Heart Shaped Box

Heart Shaped Box was inspired by Jessica Tandy, the original Blanche Dubois, and Vivian “Leigh” starring in Tennessee William’s A Street Car Named Desire.

(Inspired by Blanche’s Seahorse Pin ~ Kurt Cobain’s Seahorse drawing)

In 1982 Jessica Tandy and, Joe Elliott’s favorite actress, Meryl Streep starred in the movie Still of the Night which inspired me to write the song “Still of the Night” performed by Whitesnake.