A look at some enduring love songs and the women who inspired them.
When American Idol finalist Crystal Bowersox performed the classic Janis Joplin love song "Me And Bobby McGee" last week, it got everyone thinking about who the real Bobby McGee was. According to Love Buzz, the tune, which was written by Janis' former lover Kris Kristofferson, might have actually been inspired by Janis. Wow, people might have thought Janis was pretty vain if they'd known all this time that she was singing a love song about herself!
Speaking of vanity, when Carly Simon recently re-recorded her hit "You're So Vain," the song became a subject of gossip once again. Although most people have always assumed that the song's famous narcissist was Warren Beatty and the latest rumor is that he was David Geffen, Carly's brother insists that the man in the song is actually an amalgam of several who did his sis wrong over the years.
Some songwriters are much more forthcoming about the muses behind their compositions. Here now is a list of love songs and the famous ladies who inspired them.
1. "Something," George Harrison - Something in the way she moves/Attracts me like no other lover
2. "Layla," Derek and the Dominos - I tried to give you consolation/When your old man had let you down/Like a fool, I fell in love with you/Turned my whole world upside down
3. "Wonderful Tonight," Eric Clapton - I feel wonderful because I see the love light in your eyes/And the wonder of it all/Is that you just don't realize how much I love you
While most women wish they could have one great love song written about them, Pattie Boyd was lucky enough to be the subject of three big hits. Well, "lucky" may not be the right term, since she was at the center of a well-documented and messy love triangle with best friends George Harrison and Eric Clapton. You can read about Pattie's life as a muse in her 2007 memoir, Wonderful Tonight.
4. "Rosanna," Toto - All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes/Rosanna, Rosanna/I never thought that a girl like you could ever care for me/Rosanna
5. "In Your Eyes," Peter Gabriel - I see the light and the heat/In your eyes/Oh, I want to be that complete/I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes
If Pattie Boyd is the Queen of Muses, Rosanna Arquette is the Princess. And although the eponymously named Toto single was not actually written for her (she was dating band member Steve Porcaro, and the song was written by David Paich), the band did decide to use her name, partly because it was easy to sing and partly because she was well-liked by all the band members. But former live-in love Peter Gabriel did write "In Your Eyes" as a tribute to Rosanna. She must feel pretty good about that, because it's the better song and it's the soundtrack to one of the most iconic romantic images in pop culture history—Say Anything's John Cusack holding up that boom box outside Ione Skye's house.
6. Linda McCartney
"Maybe I'm Amazed," Paul McCartney - Baby I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time/Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Arguably one of the most beautiful love songs ever written (just ask the billions of brides who have adopted it as their wedding song), this one was dedicated to Paul McCartney's wife and Wings band mate Linda. Their marriage was one of the strongest in the music biz, lasting nearly 30 years until Linda sadly succumbed to breast cancer.
7. Gwyneth Paltrow
"Moses," Coldplay - Like Moses has power over sea/So you've got power over me
The unreleased track that appears on Coldplay's 2003 live album was an ode from singer Chris Martin to his wife and leading lady, Gwyneth Paltrow. The Biblical title took on new meaning for the couple in 2006, as they used it as a name for their son. (Hey, it's better than Apple.)
8. Kimberly Williams
"Little Moments," Brad Paisley - When she steals my heart again and doesn't even know it/Yeah I live for little moments like that
We could have guessed, but the country star has confirmed that this pretty ditty is about his wife, actress Kimberly Williams, best-known for her roles in Father of the Bride and Lifetime's Amish Grace.
9. Gwen Stefani
"Love Remains The Same," Gavin Rossdale - Drink to all that we have lost/Mistakes that we have made/Everything will change/But love remains the same
The former Bush frontman's 2008 solo hit was about his wife, fellow singer Gwen Stefani. It's more of a realistic look at marriage than a rosy, romantic one, as Gavin explained, "I have a tough wife with high standards...It’s hard to be with anybody for any length of time, and there are those times when you realize we need to make an effort here.
10. Britney Spears
"Cry Me A River," Justin Timberlake - Girl I refuse/You must have me confused with some other guy/The bridges were burned/Now its your turn to cr/Cry me a river
OK, so they're not ALL love songs. This one is the much-publicized love-gone-bad between Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, whose rumored infidelity caused the Mickey Mouse Club kids' breakup and inspired this hit single. And if the song didn't get the point across well enough, Justin's video for his kiss-off/revenge song (complete with Britney lookalike) cleared up all confusion.
Photo: Album cover art from "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs," Derek and the Dominos.