You're right: this song is about you

Women who inspired famous songs reveal what it was like to be a muse

The inspirations for some of the biggest selling and best loved songs in the world are to be revealed in a new book to be published next month celebrating the power of the musician's muse. The Girl in the Song: The Real Stories Behind 50 Classic Pop Songs, reveals details of the wives, girlfriends, rivals, exes and even complete strangers who are behind such hit songs as Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" and Coldplay's "Moses".

They range from Billy Joel's dancefloor hit "Uptown Girl", which was rooted in Joel's romances with not one but two supermodels – Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley – through to reggae maestro Bob Marley's relationship with Cindy Breakspeare, a former Miss World winner, which inspired him to write 'Turn Your Lights Down Low' in her honour. Others include the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", which was banned by the BBC after speculation it was a paean to psychedelic drug taking, when, in reality, it was inspired by a painting by a classmate of Lennon's son Julian.

Some have gone further: Adam Levine, songwriter for the pop-rock band Maroon 5, wrote an entire album about his ex-girlfriend, Jane Herman. The band's debut, Songs About Jane, catapulted the group to fame, selling some 4.6 million copies.

The Independent on Sunday spoke to several former muses and asked them how it feels to be immortalised in song.

Inspirational women...

Song Miss You

Artist Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)

Muse Jerry Hall

MJ: "'Miss You' is an emotion; it's not really about a girl. To me, the feeling of longing is what the song is."

JH: "There is no job as fun as being a rock muse. Something in you sparks their creativity. They need you to nurture and encourage them, something that I'm really good at. It feels great to be a part of their art. Being a musician's muse makes you immortal through their songs. Music lasts for ever."

Song Wonderwall

Artist Noel Gallagher (Oasis)

Muse Meg Mathews

NG: "The meaning of that song was taken away from me by the media, who jumped on it. How do you tell your missus it's not about her once she's read it is? It's a song about an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself."

MM: "It feels amazing when someone writes a song for you. But when we got divorced, he decided to take the song back! Whenever I hear it though, I have really fond memories."

Song Tender

Artist Damon Albarn (Blur)

Muse Justine Frischmann

DA: "It upsets me, that song. It upset me singing it. Doing that vocal upset me greatly. To sing that lyric I really had to accept that that was the end of something in my life. It's amazing when you do have the guts to do that with your work, because it don't half help you."

JF: "It's quite an odd thing hearing the song on the radio. It's quite a romantic gesture. I cried when I heard it."

Song Every Breath You Take

Artist Sting (The Police)

Muse Frances Tomelty

S: "It's a song of experience, about jealousy and possession. A sinister, evil song veiled in a romantic setting."

FT: "I hated it. I hated the intrusion in my life. I'm a terrible old slob. I hated not being able to run out the door and go and get the paper. I'm not famous any more and I've worked quite hard at that."

Song Something

Artist George Harrison (The Beatles)

Muse Pattie Boyd

GH: [Later said] "Well no, I didn't [write it about her]. I just wrote it and then somebody put together a video and went out and got some footage of me and Pattie, Paul and Linda, Ringo and Maureen... so then everybody presumed I wrote it about Pattie, but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of Ray Charles."

PB: "He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. All I can say is I feel deeply flattered and honoured.... I don't know what else to say. I guess I'm really lucky."

Song Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

Artist Bob Dylan

Muse Suze Rotolo

BD: "She was the most erotic thing I'd seen. She was fair-skinned and golden-haired, full-blood Italian... We started talking and my head started to spin.... She was just my type."

SR: "I can recognise things [in the song]. It's like looking at a diary. It brings it all back. And what's hard is that you remember being unsure of how life was going to go – his, mine, anybody's. So, from the perspective of an older person looking back, you enjoy them, but also think of them as the pain of youth, the loneliness and the struggle that youth is, or may be."

Song Hey There Delilah

Artist Tom Higgenson (Plain White T's)

Muse Delilah DiCrescenzo

TH: "When I met her I said, 'I will write you a song and it's going to be the best song I ever write and it's going to be the one that makes us famous.' When I later gave her the song I wasn't really expecting anything. She just inspired the song."

DD: "I knew the song was fictionalised, but the song means so much to people so I don't mind playing along with it. I just thought he was being flirtatious. I had a boyfriend at the time."

Song Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Artist Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills and Nash)

Muse Judy Collins

SS: "It started out as a long narrative poem about my relationship with Judy Collins. It poured out of me over many months and filled several notebooks. I had a hell of a time getting the music to fit."

JC: "It's a lovely experience having a song written about you. He wrote that song to get me back – and he sang it to me and it didn't work! When I hear the song now, it always brings back the 1960s."

Song My Sharona

Artist Doug Fieger (The Knack)

Muse Sharona Alperin

DF: "It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. It sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time. For her, it's been very good. She's very proud of it. She never complained."

SA: "It's absolutely humbling. I was a teenager when it came out, so when you get so popular, you don't want your friends to feel left out, so I chose to make it more of a humbling experience."

Song Suzanne

Artist Leonard Cohen

Muse Suzanne Verdal

LC: "I bumped into Suzanne, who was the wife of a friend.... She invited me down to her place near the river. I went with her, and I touched her perfect body with my mind, because there was no other opportunity. So she provided the name in the song."

SV: "It's not just the copulation. It is the understanding that we are irresistibly attracted to one another, and we have to deal with this. That produced a great piece of art."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn