Tag Archives: Purple Rain

If U Seek Amy

“My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time” – …Baby One More Time performed by Britney Spears

At fifteen, I  used the techniques Joe Elliott of Def Leppard taught me of taking songs I knew to draw upon for writing songs.  For “…Baby One More Time” performed by Britney Spears I was inspired by Pat Benatar’s 1980 hit song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.   Lyrically the song was inspired by Billy Squier’s “Lonely is the Night”, Shawn Cassidy’s ’78 cover of “Do You Believe in Magic”, and Roberta Flack’s 1979 cover of “Killing Me Softly”.  There are references to Prince, the song “The Beautiful Ones, and the funk ensemble The Time.  

The pseudonym Max Martin was devised with Max being one of the nicknames I gave Michael Hutchence of INXS for the Australian movie Mad Max.  Later Hutch would name his side project Max Q.    

The album “…Baby One More Time” would be released 16 years after written on my birthday, January 12, 1999.

Cobain can you hear the Spears singin’ songs off station to station” – Californication performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Taking a que from lyrics in “…Baby One More Time” Prince released the 1987 album “Sign “☮” the Times” and then changed his name to the “Love Symbol” knowing Amy means beLOVEd.

I chose the 2009 album title “Circus” which includes the single “If You Seek Amy”  for Def Leppard’s 1987 song “Animal” with the music video taking place at a circus as well as it being in the lyrics.

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Bee Girl “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”

Was you ever bit by a dead bee? – Eddie, 1944 movie To Have and Have Not

You might be under the impression that the “Bee Girl” era actually happened with Blind Melon’s song No Rain released in 1992.  It actually goes back further than to 1983 with Joe Elliott decided to use Lauren Bacall’s dress in To Have and Have Not as inspiration for Julia Robert’s hooker dress in the movie Pretty Woman (see previous post “Oh! Pretty Woman).

One day Kurt kept pressuring me to come up with a new song.  Joe Elliott was standing near by.  I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with them that day and I sat down on the stage.  I said, “I’ve got no new tale to tell.”

After a minute, I stood up and started making up a song which became No New Tale To Tell performed by some of the former members of the band Bauhaus who formed the band Love and Rockets.  The song was released on the 1987 album Earth, Sun, Moon album. 

If you do not know who Bauhaus is, they were featured in David Bowie’s and Susan Sarandon’s ’83 cult classic The Hunger with their song from 1979 “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.

The music video for No New Tale to Tale was the start of the Bee Girl era along with the image of a monkey, a symbol for Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles.  This included Kurt Cobain’s collection of toy monkeys and the use of a toy monkey in the Alice In Chains music video Grind.

The idea to start naming bands for “fruit” came from the use of “peach” in Pour Some Sugar On Me performed by Def Leppard and U Got The Look performed by Prince and Shiela E.  It also came from me joking around with INXS sayingthey were the vegetables and I being the fruit. 

This is how I came up with the name when Billy Corgan asked me what he should name his band and I said “Smashing Pumpkins” and also  named the band “Blind Melon”, with Melons and Pumpkins being a fruit.

The band Krokus which had been on tour with Def Leppard on the Rock Till You Drop Tour in 1983, released To Rock or Not to Be (a reference to the movie To Have and Have Not starring Bogey and Bacall) in 1995 also used the image on the cover art.

One day while Kurt (Cobain) and I were working on songs, he pulled a sheet of notebook paper out of his back pocket which happened to be the lyrics for what would become “Bee Girl” performed by Pearl Jam.

“Bee girl, you’re gonna die.
You don’t wanna be famous, you wanna be shy.
Do your dances alone in your room.
Becoming a star will become your doom.
Bee Girl, be a girl

You know time is long, and life is short.
Begin to live while you still can.
Believe in nothing, believe me,
Those who can be trusted can change their mind.
When the anxious is the present, unwrap your gifts, take your time.
Everything you imagine needn’t be stuck in your mind.
Bee Girl, be a girl… “ – Bee Girl performed by Pearl Jam

“She should have stayed away from friends
She should have had more time to spend
She should have died when she was born
She should have worn the crown of thorns
She should have been a son” – Been A Son, Nirvana


Purple Rain Origin

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow.
I never meant to cause you any pain.
I only wanted to one time see you laughing.
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain” – Purple Rain performed by Prince

The day my friends called to invite me to the Def Leppard concert, May 15, 1983, it was a typical Spring day in Alabama.  One minute it could be a beautiful sunny day, the next a storm brews and the skies turn grey.  By the time Mom and I left for church it had started raining. 

Not deterred when my normally curly hair turned to frizz, I straighten it again, going through half a can of Aqua Net hairspray.  I then changed into something more suitable for a rock concert, a favorite asymmetrical military style white top, my tightest Levi’s blue jeans .  The kind you have to lay down on the bed to zip up.  And, two favorite accessory of the time, my learner’s permit and a purple comb in the back pocket.  

Now, the comb had a use other than what it was intended for.  At the roller skating rink if a guy liked you, he would steal it from your pocket ensuing a chase around the rink so to retrieve your property.  Most of my girlfriend’s did this.  In fact, Kurt Cobain alluded to this in a fictitious story written in his journal. 

We pulled into the parking lot behind the Thriftway as other zombies slouch bobbed with combs in their back pockets.  There stood the Air Supply box boy holding a Les Paul with a picture from a magazine of Kool cigarettes lamenated on it, a mechanical redheaded biker boy and that tall lanky guy, the first to ever wear skin tight Levis.  A bold and brave change from stacking finger or San Francisco riding gear.  The played faster than I had ever imagined music could be played and with more energy than my Iron Maiden records could provide.  This was what I was looking for, ah punk band.  The other stones were bored and kept shouting, play some Def Leppard.” – Kurt Cobain’s Journal under the title “The Habit”

With the mention of zombies, Kurt was not only referring to Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video, but also to the stagename Rob Zombie whom I wrote songs for.

Joe (Elliott) found out I am a fan of Vanity 6, a girl group promoted by the artist Prince, which I had seen on Soul Train performing Nasty Girl released in 1982.  They then brought in Prince’s albums released up until that point for me to listen to and learn his style.  But, the song Nasty Girl would influence many more songs which I would be involved in writing, including Michael Jackson’s little sister’s 1986 Nasty.

I make reference to the “purple comb” in the lyrics for Erotic City.

Everytime I comb my hair
Thoughts of U get in my eyes
U’re a sinner, I don’t care
I just want your creamy thighs”

The Lyrics for “The Beautiful Ones’ I allude to Def Leppard’s Photograph.

MAKE LOVE NOT WAR


3 Doors Down

If I go crazy then will you still
Call me Superman
If I’m alive and well, will you be
There a-holding my hand
I’ll keep you by my side
With my superhuman might
Kryptonite”

The story behind the band 3 Doors Down’s official name happening on a trip to Foley, Alabama actually came from a trip I took to Gulf Shores in August of ’89 on vacation.  While looking for a place to eat breakfast, we traveled to Foley stopping at the Foley Coffee Shop.  While talking to the waitress we found out that it was a family run business and her father had just passed away.

 I was heartbroken about the tragic accident in May 1995 leaving Christopher Reeve a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse.  The original idea behind the song Kryptonite was to honor Reeve.

I make reference to the song I worked on for Prince & The Revolution’s ’84 Purple Rain album titled “Let’s Go Crazy”.

Eventually, drummer Daniel Adair would join my pet project, Nickelback, as drummer.


Easy A

 “Easy operator come a knockin’ on my door” – Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard

Upon meeting Tom Cruise he wanted me to help him with ideas for movie and not just for himself, but his friends as well.  I knew that several of the bands or artists such as Billy Squier and Oingo Boingo had contributed songs to movies, such as ’82 Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and INXS later talked about contributing to the movie Pretty in Pink released in ’86.  

I started with what I knew and told him about spending part of my summers in singing school and then the other in a reading club at the local library from about 2nd grade.  We would have contests to see who could read the most books at our grade level.  When I was in about third or fourth grade, while searching for a new book to read, a garnet covered book with a large “A” stood out in a low stack.   It was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  While reading The Scarlet Letter I realized there were words I did not know or understand, so I approached the librarian who directed me to the nearest dictionary.  There I sat for several afternoons in a row until I finished the book.

There is another Scarlet which has meaning to me and that is the iconic Southern female Scarlet O’Hara portrayed by Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind.  Mom and I would curl up on the sofa together every time it would come on television.  I’ve actually known a few Scarlets, figuratively speaking.

English actor Gary Oldman had been tapped to play the role of Sid Vicious in Kurt Cobain’s  brain-child, the ’86 movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy.  Actress Demi Moore had been tapped to star in ’85 St. Elmo’s Fire.  While trying to draw connections to me they found a town in lower Alabama named St. Elmo.  The town was named for an 1866 novel by Southern author Augusta Jane Evans of the same name.  While doing more research they came across the electrical weather phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire. 

Later both actors, Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, were then tapped to star in the ’95 movie The Scarlet Letter.  The Executive Producer being none other than Dodi Fayed who died in the car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales in ’97.  After seeing the movie I mentioned to Tom that I was a bit disappointed in the writer taking creative license with the script. 

Another Scarlet influenced the ’92 movie Basic Instinct and the fact that one day I accidently stabbed Kurt Cobain with a microwave meat thermometer.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a mortal wound.  The movie I am referring to is Australian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1945 Scarlet Street. 

The dance scene in Basic Instinct actually happened while I was dancing with Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence at a private party when the ’84 album Purple Rain was released and Prince & The Revolution performed. 

Kurt Cobain made reference to the Scarlet Street movie in his journal under the page titled H.R. Puffnstuff, “Marlen Dietritch, Lilly Marlene sings”.  He is referring to the German love song Lili Marlene.  The poem was originally titled “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (German for “the girl under the lantern”), but it became famous as “Lili Marleen”. 

Nirvana in 1993 on MTV Unplugged in New York, Kurt requested the stage be surrounded by “Madonna” lilies.  Not to mention the “Anarchy A” on the cheerleader’s uniforms in the music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit.

While getting to know Michael Hutchence, of INXS, he told me about Australia, slang words, vegemite, and the ’79 movie Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson.  One day I fell asleep on the sofa in a dressing room of the auditorium we were working in.  I woke to Hutch starring me in the face smiling and for some strange reason I exclaimed, “Max!”  As a side project in 1989 Hutch started a band by the name of Max Q. 

If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Easy A, I can highly recommend it.


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”


Victoria’s Secret In Bloom

Nirvana’s “In Bloom” was inspired by 2 songs I wrote.

When Doves Cry performed by Prince from the ’84 Purple Rain album “Dream if you can a courtyard An ocean of violets IN BLOOM”

The song title “When Doves Cry” was inspired by the ’83 movie Never Cry Wolf starring Brian Dennehy as “Rosie” and the cover of the 1975 album of The Best of Michael Jackson’s.

The second song was ’94 song performed by Seal “Kiss From A Rose”.  The title inspired by Dennehy’s character name “Rosie” in Never Cry Wolf and Def Leppard’s song Bringin’ on the Heartbreak and their friends in the band Kiss.   

“The stranger it feels, yeah. And now that your rose is IN BLOOM”

Brian Dennehy’s connection and Seal’s comes from the Australian band INXS and Michael Hutchence as well as my friend Tom Cruise.  Dennehy would go on to star in the movie F/X and F/X2 with Australian Bryan Brown who appeared in Cocktail with Tom.  Seal would go on the marry model and friend of Australian Elle MacPherson and Helena Christensen, Heidi Klum, who were all partly responsible for the success of Victoria Secret’s.  

Victoria’s secret?  She was my English childhood penpal whom we corresponded through the ’70’s PBS children’s show Zoom. 

With Michael Jackson, Hutchence and others an idea formed to do a Batman movie.  This movie was ’95 Batman Forever which starred Australian actress Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise’s Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer.  Hutchence did a cover of Bowie’s “The Passenger” and “Kiss From A Rose” was rereleased for the movie.


Pour Some Sugar On Me ~ Oh! Nevermind

With the release of Nirvana’s 20th Anniversary Edition of Nevermind, I thought fans would like to know where the title “Nevermind” came from.

The first song Joe Elliott and I worked on together was Pour Some Sugar On Me in May of ’83.  After discussing how much I loved Aerosmith’s ’75 Toys In The Attic album (Toys In The Attic being a euphemism for insanity which I used in Sweet Sacrifice “It’s true, we’re all a little insane“), we discussed my favorite songs off the album and how I would use it in a song. 

“Step inside, WALK THIS WAY”  

I always liked to draw connections between songs I wrote. The next would be the ’84 song Sugar Walls performed by Scottish born Sheena Easton.  Prince was allowed to claim the song under the pseudonym “Alexander NEVERMIND”.  This happened after I wrote all the songs for his ’84 Purple Rain album and gave him the idea for the movie.

There is actually a rumor that Prince wrote songs for Def Leppard, which would be a common misconception considering I wrote songs for both.