GIRL IN THE SONG – PART 10- Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Boston, Janis Joplin.



Rod Stewart- Maggie May (R Stewart/ M Quittenton) (1971), You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim) (R Stewart) (1977), You’ve Got A Nerve (1977) (R Stewart/ G Grainger), I Was Only Joking (R Stewart) (1977), Hot Legs (1978) (R Stewart/ G Grainger) (1978)

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When a sixteen- year-old Roderick David Stewart staggered out of the beer tent at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in the New Forest (Hampshire) in 1961 supported by a buxom older woman who he didn’t know, he probably suspected that a sexual encounter was on the cards. That night the woman who would become known as Maggie May, would relieve young Rod of his virginity, in an all-too brief encounter, as the singer revealed in an interview with Q magazine in 2007 “it was over in a few seconds”. The name Maggie Mae was appropriated from a Liverpool folk song about a Lime Street prostitute, and Stewart liked the sexy pun inherent in the name – Maggie may or Maggie may not.

A Young Rod Stewart at the 1961 Bailleau Jazz Festival in 1961 – Here He Met Maggie May.

Ten days later Rod was working on the song with Martin Quittenton of the band Steamhammer in Stewart’s house in Muswell Hill, and as Quittenton played guitar chords Stewart began to sing the old folk song about Maggie Mae, the lyrics further evolved into a story about a young man’s rights -of-passage, and it became the standout track on Stewart’s stunning third album, Every Picture Tells a Story. Rod recruited Faces bandmates Ronnie Wood (bass), and Ian McLagan (organ), drummer Mick Waller, guitarist Martin Quittenton and Ray Jackson of the folk-rock group Lindisfarne, who imparted the unique and beguiling improvisory mandoline sequence into the mix, to record the song at the Morgan Sound Studios in Willesden.

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The song has no real chorus and a running time of 5.46 minutes but there are numerous vocal and instrumental variations to maintain interest, however Mercury Records considered the song an oddity with no hit potential, and made it the B-side of the Reason To Believe single. Radio DJs ultimately decided that Maggie May would be the hit, and the album Every Picture Tells Story crashed into the charts as well, and simultaneously both became #1 hits right around the world.

Rod Stewart with the Faces and Ray Jackson of Lindisfarne on Mandolin.

Throughout 1975-77 Rod Stewart dated Swedish actress Britt Ekland (together below) and for a time they were inseparable and deeply in love, and this romance clearly inspired many of the songs featured on Stewart’s 1977 album Footloose And Fancy Free.

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In retrospect Stewart has denied the intensity of his feelings for Ekland at the time, and subsequently refuted the fact that they inspired many songs on this album, but these comments seemed to align with a moment when Ekland commenced a $12.5 million lawsuit against Rod, claiming she had been the inspiration for many of his most successful songs. You’re In My Heart was a case in point, a global hit in 1977 the lyrics are easy to link to the Swedish star – “I took all those habits of yours/ That in the beginning were hard to accept/ Your fashion sense, Beardsley prints/ I put down to experience…The big-bosomed lady with the Dutch accent/ Who tried to change my point of view/ Her ad lib lines were well-rehearsed/ But my heart cried out for you/ You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul/ You’ll be my breath should I grow old/ You are my lover, you’re my best friend/You’re in my soul.” In his memoirs, imaginatively-titled Rod: The Autobiography (2013), Stewart said that Ekland was sure they would get married, and You’re In My Heart is certainly a song by a man smitten and apparently in it for the long haul, he even favourably compared Britt to his beloved soccer team Celtic United. But Rod the Mod had no intention of settling down, and was unfaithful to Ekland with another actress Liz Treadwell, which led to the couple’s very public split, and subsequent litigation.

Other songs from the album were also directed at Ekland, on You Got A Nerve Stewart is quite hostile, critical of Britt for vacationing in Brazil with her jet set friends and leaving him behind, even denying the existence of her relationship with him, so he is moving on, and no longer prepared to play second fiddle to her “But you got a nerve to come round here/ After all you’ve said and done/ I thought I had seen everything/ Obviously I was wrong…” Stewart was moving on to his first wife Alana Hamilton, who left her husband George Hamilton, who had coincidentally dated Ekland back in1972, and it was George who tipped Ekland off that his ex-wife was about to replace her in Stewart’s affections, Ekland never forgave Rod for his infidelity, and to rub salt into the wounds, her lawsuit only resulted in a $500,000 property settlement.

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I Was Only Joking was also a song on the Footloose and Fancy- Free album, but Ekland was not the inspiration for it, as its origins date back to one of Rod’s early teenage relationships, when he was a 17- year-old trying to make a living as a singer. He met art student Susannah Boffey (below) at The Marquee nightclub in London in 1961, Rod was still living with his parents and broke, Susannah became pregnant to him, and lyrically Stewart recalled rather regretfully his feelings at the time “ Susie, baby, you were good to me/ Giving love unselfishly/ But you took it all too seriously/ I guess it had to end.”

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The resulting daughter, Sarah Streeter (below with Stewart), was fostered out for adoption, but managed to establish closer links with her natural father and in 2010, following the death of her adoptive parents, she was ultimately admitted to the Stewart family.

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Her birth mother Susannah Hourde (nee Boffey) has indicated no interest in reconnecting with Rod Stewart, who she claims spurned her and her unborn child and has blighted his first daughter’s life ever since. She was particularly incensed in 2016 when Stewart released an album track entitled Brighton Beach, which Susannah claims painted a rosy picture of a forgettable visit the pair made to Brighton after he found out she was pregnant “You were Greta Garbo, I was Jack Kerouac”, and she has rejected Stewart’s claim that his plans to wed Boffey were thwarted by her father Edward, who refused to give his permission.

Rod Stewart with a Great Rhythm Section, Sounding Like the Rolling Stones and latterly the Georgia Satellites.

Hot Legs from 1978 may have been inspired by several women whom Rod had partnered through the 1970’s, many of who were leggy blonde actors/models including Jenny Rylance, Del Harrington, Britt Ekland and Alana Hamilton, who would become his first wife in 1979. This song was a swaggering, boastful, laddish ode to youthful excess, very reminiscent of Rod’s 1971 hit Stay With Me, where the singer beds a girl but wants to make sure she is gone in the morning, in Hot Legs he repeats the request “You can love me tonight if you want/ But in the morning make sure you’re gone.”  Below left to right at a Rod Stewart Wives Re-Union Alana Hamilton, Penny Lancaster, Rod, Kelly Emberg, and Rachel Hunter, they couldn’t fit the 8 kids in the shot.

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Paul McCartney and Wings – Maybe I’m Amazed (P McCartney) (1970), and Little Woman Love (P McCartney) (1971) and Eat At Home (P McCartney) (1971), and Dear Boy (P McCartney) (1971), and My Love (P McCartney) (1973)  


The love story between Paul and Linda McCartney makes them possibly the second most talked about couple within the Beatles after John and Yoko, although the menage a trois between George Harrison, Patti Boyd, and Eric Clapton, would probably give both John and Paul a run for their money. Paul had certainly been inspired by other women to pen memorable songs before he met Linda, particularly for Jane Asher to whom he was engaged and probably for Dorothy Rhone, whom he impregnated early in his career in Liverpool, but Linda was most definitely his muse in the post-Beatles era. Left to right Dot Rhone and Paul, Jane Asher and Paul, and Linda Eastman.

Paul and Linda were the quintessentially happy couple, inseparable, playing in a band together, raising four children, traipsing around their farm in Scotland, embracing worthy lifestyle choices like veganism and such causes as animal rights, and mutually supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of life for almost 30 years, between 1969-1998. Left to right below Heather, Paul, Linda, and in front Stella and Mary.


She had met Paul in London in 1967 when on a photographic assignment there and they caught up again a year later in New York City, and were physically attracted to each other. She was a free- spirited young woman who had just divorced her first husband Joseph Melville See, an academic, with whom she had a daughter, Heather born in 1962. Paul was struggling to adapt to life after the Beatles recent breakup, and was drinking heavily.  Paul saw in Linda a rebellious spirit, an unrefined beauty with a natural manner and an artistic temperament, she in turn idolised Paul, and was particularly impressed with the way he bonded with her daughter, whom he would subsequently adopt.


They were married in 1969, and because of Linda’s support and encouragement Paul returned to song writing, and the first great song directly attributable to Linda was Maybe I’m Amazed, released in 1970, as a track on his eponymous solo album McCartney. Paul channelled all his unbridled emotion for Linda into this song, the track appears at the end of the album, and clearly this declaration of love and devotion was the feeling he wanted the listener to take away. His use of the word “maybe” indicates the uncertainty, vulnerability, and tentativeness, he felt about himself and his future, he was obviously amazed by her, even afraid of the way he loved her, but she would become his great source of inspiration, his muse and his soulmate.

Other tracks on the solo album such as Man We Was Lonely and Every Night, focus on Paul’s post-Beatles angst and how Linda helped him through an emotionally bruising time of infighting, turmoil, and anguish, as the Fab Four fell apart.


1971’s  RAM album was also replete with “Linda” songs, Long-Haired Lady and  Little Woman Love were heartfelt songs inspired by Linda, but both were overly sentimental and the former was overlong, while Eat At Home, extolled the virtues of domesticity and co-existing with his wife either on their Scottish farm or in Cavendish Lane (London), and also gave a nod to the couple’s healthy appreciation of oral sex in their relationship. Dear Boy was both a love letter from Paul to his beloved Linda, and a barb directed at her ex-husband Joseph Melville See (below), whose infidelity caused their marriage to fail, an act Paul could not countenance. See would ultimately commit suicide in 2000 at his home in Arizona, he was believed to be the inspiration for the lyric “Jo-Jo left his home in Tucson Arizona…” in the Beatles 1969 hit Get Back.


By 1971 McCartney was releasing albums with his new band Wings, their debut album Wild Life was a Wings release without a titular reference to McCartney, and by Beatles standards its performance was lacklustre. In 1973 the follow up album Red Rose Speedway was credited to Paul McCartney and Wings, and normal transmission was resumed when it became a global hit, despite the uneven quality of the songs. My Love was the hit, an honest, uncomplicated, slightly repetitive narrative about Paul’s love for his wife, a piano ballad similar in structure to McCartney’s Beatles song The Long and Winding Road. It was recorded at Abbey Road in October 1972 with McCartney on a Fender Rhodes electric piano, Denny Laine on bass guitar, former Beatles confidante Richard Hewson provided an orchestral arrangement, and guitarist Henry McCullough, devised a guitar solo different from that written by McCartney, and of which Macca ultimately heartily approved. 

Paul and Linda would have three children, Mary (’69), Stella (’71) and James (’77) and together with Heather they would enjoy a relatively normal, unaffected, and mutually supportive family life. Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, which metastasized to her liver and she sadly passed away in 1998.

Boston More Than A Feeling (T Scholz) 1976


Boston formed in 1970 when MIT student Tom Scholz hooked up with singer Brad Delp and others and were signed to a recording contract with Epic Records, who flatly rejected their debut song, Scholz’s composition More Than A Feeling.  Scholz had taken five years to write the song which he recorded in the basement of his home in Watertown, Massachusetts. He had been inspired by the Left Banke’s hit Walk Away Renee, which reminded him of a lost love, which he referenced in the Boston song ” When I hear that old song, they used to play (more than a feeling), and subconsciously or deliberately, he lifted the whole chord progression from the Left Banke song and implanted it in More Than A Feeling.


Walk Away Renee was co-written by Michael Brown of the Left Banke, who subsequently revealed that he was inspired by Renee Fladen-Kamm, the then-girlfriend of the Left Banke’s bassist Tom Finn, and also the object of Brown’s affections, but his love for Renee would remain unrequited, and the Left Banke never pursued a royalties share from Boston’s hit record


Scholz (above) has revealed that there was a girl named Marianne who was the inspiration for their song, and the repeated line “Till I see Marianne walkin’ away/ I see my Marianne walkin’ away,” and it wasn’t his girlfriend, but an older first cousin, who in the eyes of an 8 year-old Tom was beautiful and he had a big crush on her. The song is therefore a bittersweet rock ballad, which resonated with fans – accessible guitar riffs, a powerful beat, and Delp’s soaring  tenor/falsetto vocals, certainly hit the mark –  the song climbed to #5 in the US. Boston’s eponymous debut album was also a smash hit,  selling 17 million copies to become the  biggest- selling debut album in history at the time.

Kurt Cobain remarked that his influences included not only the Pixies but the ungrunge-like rock of Boston, and its not hard to discern the tempo and crescendo/decrescendo shifts in More Than A Feeling being repeated in Smells Like Teen Spirit.  Boston would also take Peace of Mind, Don’t Look Back, and Amanda into the charts and have clocked up 75 million record sales globally, Brad Delp (below) sadly committed suicide in 2007.


Me and Bobby McGee (F Foster/ K Kristofferson) 1971- Janis Joplin


Kris Kristofferson (above) was a former US army captain and Rhodes Scholar who became a successful actor and singer, but in the late 1960’s he was a jobbing studio musician and tunesmith, cranking out songs for country singers as the protege of Fred Foster, the boss of Monument records based in Nashville, who had curated all of Roy Orbison’s early hits. Below Roy Orbison at rear and Boudleau Bryant (left) and Fred Foster (right) in front.


The inspiration for the song resulted from a cordial challenge from Fred Foster to Kristofferson, after Foster’s friend Boudleaux Bryant (who with his wife Felice had written all the early hits for the Everly Brothers), teased him that he only visited Bryant’s offices to see his attractive secretary Barbara “Bobby” McKee (pictured below with Fred Foster in 2016). Inspired by the friendly jibe, Foster challenged Kristofferson to write a song about Me and Bobby McKee with the twist being that the Bobby in question had to be a female, but Kris misheard the name McKee and the bluesy country classic Me and Bobby McGee was created.


Musically the song’s melody owes a debt to Mickey Newbury’s Why You Been Gone So Long, and Kristofferson has revealed that the line “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” was inspired by the last scene in Frederico Fellini’s La Strada where a broken, war-torn, inebriated Anthony Quinn stares up from the beach, at the night’s stars. The song is the story of two drifters, the narrator and Bobby McGee,  who hitch a ride from Kentucky to California, through the American South. Upon reaching California they part ways, with the song’s narrator expressing sadness afterwards. As the singer’s name is never mentioned and the name “Bobby” is gender neutral, the song has been recorded by both male and female singers with only minor differences in the lyrical content.


Roger Miller was the first performer to take the song into the charts in 1969 with a country arrangement that favoured restrained drumming, subtle fiddle and harmonica, and slide guitar, but it would be Janis Joplin who in 1971 would create the definitive version of the song, which became her epitaph, when released posthumously in 1971, after Joplin died of a heroin overdose in October 1970. Joplin managed to imbue even the simplest of lyrics with carnal intent and Kristofferson’s rootsy, wordy, gritty, crossover song provided her with ample opportunity to cross the borders between rock, country, blues, and folk, and her vocals were shot through with immense vitality and a characteristic rowdy romantic vigor, “she was the girl who sang the blues…who just turned away and smiled”, as Don McLean opined in American Pie.



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