Women have always been a source of inspiration for every type of artist. It's been like that at least since ancient times. In Greek mythology, there are particular goddesses, the Muses, who are considered as the source of knowledge for the arts and sciences. And in more recent times, popular songwriters have drawn inspiration from their relationships with real, flesh-and-blood women. Some turned into true love songs while others are hymns to heartbreak and love's associated afflictions. We put together this list of the women who inspired the ten most heartbreaking songs ever. Read on to find out who they are!
It's said that Mary Austin was the most important person in Freddie Mercury's life. They were a couple for six years, before the singer acknowledged being gay. Even then, they kept in touch. So much so that Austin was the main beneficiary of his inheritance after his death of AIDS in 1991. Mercury himself dedicated several songs to her, not the least of which is titled "Love of my life."
Pattie Boyd is probably the highest-flying groupie in the history of rock 'n' roll. While still married to the youngest Beatle, George Harrison, one of her husband's friends fell deeply in love with her. He was none other than Eric Clapton who, after Cream and Blind Faith, had just embarked in a new project, a band called Derek and the Dominoes. His infatuation with Pattie Boyd had such a hold on him that he couldn't help turning their début album into a catalogue of love's maladies, titled "Layla and other assorted love songs."
Even though this song, like most bands', was a collaboration between the members, it was Axl Rose's former wife, Erin Everly, who inspired the verses that would turn into one of the greatest musical landmarks of the eighties: the Guns 'n' Roses "Sweet Child of Mine." A melancholy anthem to past times, memories and youth, this tune strikes a deep chord with anyone old enough to remember when wearing a top hat and leather vest on-stage could still be considered "cool."
Some years prior to "Sweet Child of Mine," the Guns 'n' Roses frontman and songwriter Axl Rose wrote this song for Michelle Young, one of the band's many, many groupies. Once, while listening to the tour bus' radio playing Elton John's "Your Song," Michelle had told Axl she wished someone would write a song about her. The first time he attempted to grant her that wish, he felt he had been too soft, having written a bland romantic tune. The final version we've come to know and love reflected his muse's reality and demeanour much better, Rose felt.
Diane Lane was Jon Bon Jovi's partner through most of the eighties. In a move that makes us wonder how those working in the music industry actually relate to one another as human beings, she left him for his band mate, the guitarist Richie Sambora. That's how it all happened according to the band's former manager Rich Bozzett memoir "Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi." We don't know what went down between Diane and Richie, but the band remained together and wrote the number one hit single "You give love a bad name" shortly afterwards.
"My Sharona" was The Knack's debut single. Doug Fieger, the band's singer, fell in love at first sight with Sharona Alperin and was inspired to put his feelings into words. He used the melody of one of Berton Averre's guitar riffs to make a song. The result was a one hit wonder kind of thing. Though it put them at the top of the charts in 1979, The Knack wouldn't ever reach the same level of succes again, and after a few reunion tours through the eighties and ninetes, and a final "Greatest hits" album, the band finally called their career quits.
Mick Jagger and Chrissie Shrimpton, a model and actress, were a couple from 1963 to 1966. Once they were done, the Rolling Stone's frontman turned his feelings into the lyrics for "Under My Thumb." The song's very straightforward and clearly speaks about Jagger's change after the break up, how the woman who had once enthralled him was then a thing of the past, him having regained control of the situation.
Sting wrote this song after divorcing Frances Tomelty. He was first surprised by the song's success, which turned into the worldwide best selling single of 1983, and then the fifth best selling of the decade. And then, he was shocked by his audience taking the song to have a positive meaning, when he, in his own words "was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control" while writing it. In the end, the lyrics don't speak as much of romance as about a man's obsession for his lost love.
Cindy Breakspeare and Bob Marley were romantically involved long before she gave birth to his youngest son, Damian Marley. In addition to "Turn your lights down low," Bob is said to have written "Waiting in vain," "Is this love" and "She used to call me Dada" for her.
Though she was no longer around to confirm it at the time of the song's release, Leonard Cohen said that his one intimate encounter with Janis Joplin was the inspiration for "Chelsea Hotel No 2." While it's dedicated to one of the most mythical women in the history of rock 'n' roll, an example for all the women that would come after, this is probably the most unromantic song you will ever listen to.