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
Arts and Entertainment

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Metallica are heading for the Main Stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals next summer

Music

Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain is making a new documentary about his life

Music

Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp

TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp

Arts and Entertainment
TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital