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A few songs about real people

The Actual Girl From Ipanema!
The Actual Girl From Ipanema!

Art imitates life in this week’s episode, some great (and not-so-great) songs have been inspired by actual factual folks.

The Beatles wrote several songs inspired by reality—Penny Lane is a real place in Liverpool. The lyrics to “For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” are taken from a real 19th century circus poster. “Martha My Dear” is about McCartney’s dog. One of their biggest hits “Hey Jude” was first titled “Hey Jules” for Julian Lennon, John’s young son. McCartney was offering some consolation to Julian in a song while his parents were divorcing. “Jude” sounded better than “Jules”, and a hit was made. Here’s a rather bizarre and rare live television clip of the Beatles performing “Hey Jude” in 1968:

Imagine turning on the radio and hearing your ex singing a pop song about you? That’s what happened to Sharona Alperin in 1979. Seems one of her old boyfriends was now lead singer with The Knack, and she was now a national celebrity with her own hit song, “My Sharona”. Now a successful real estate broker in LA, Alperin was floored and flattered by the song. In case you forgot how it goes here’s The Knack:

One of the most defining and iconic songs of the cocktail era of the early 1960’s, is “The Girl From Ipanema” sung by Astrud Gilberto with Stan Getz on sax. Turns out, there is a real young woman who inspired the song. 17 year old Hilo Pinhiero took daily walks on Montenegro Street in Rio, attracting the attention of more than a few onlookers, and became a local legend and the subject of an international hit. Here’s a very cool Astrud gilberto from 1964 and “The Girl From Ipanema”:

We all know King Tut was a real person, still not sure about Steve Martin. Check out “King Tut” from the early days of SNL:


John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.