You’d think that with a title like that, there’s no way this isn’t based on a real person, right? Well, yes, but it’s not the way you’d think. First off, Cash wasn’t even the songwriter; he just popularized the tune. The true writer was none other than author Shel Silverstein.
Did Shel know the eponymous Sue? No, but he was friends with Jean Shepherd, the narrator and humorous mind behind the famous movie “A Christmas Story,” which is based on his real life. Jean endured endless teasing as a child for his girly name, though nothing like the song happened.
“We've Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters
“We've Only Just Begun” was the beginning of The Carpenters, but it didn't start out as romantic as it ended up. It started out as...a bank commercial. Yes, really. Songwriter Paul Williams made a tune for a bank that would play during an advertisement, and brother-sister-act Richard and Karen Carpenter liked the tune so much they asked Williams to modify and expand it so they could turn it into a hit.
It worked, and it reached number two on the charts. It was their second hit, and it was also the song that launched Williams's career.
“Maniac” by Michael Sembello
Despite this being the only song Michael Sembello is known for, it was a huge song for him – mostly thanks to the movie “Flashdance.” It was the number-one film of 1983, and Sembello's song was added to the cultural consciousness forever. The song actually came from the 1980 slasher film of the same name, and the original lyrics reflected that fact a lot better.
Phil Ramone, the producer for “Flashdance,” heard the song and loved the tune but needed some graphic lyrics changed first. It became a song about a girl who is a maniac while dancing.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
It was a song that changed the musical landscape forever, doing away with the remnants of the eighties and firing the grunge scene into the forefront. It changed popular music forever...but what is it about? The title is gibberish, like a lot of the song, but it does come from somewhere.
Katherine Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, scrawled it on a wall above Kurt Cobain and his girlfriend Tobi Vail, Hanna's bandmate, while the pair were asleep. Cobain saw it upon waking and liked the sound of it. Turns out that “Teen Spirit” is the deodorant that Vail wore.
“Come Together” by The Beatles
Full of nonsequiturs and with a strange rally cry of a chorus, this famous Beatles tune is just one of their many hits. And it makes sense that it seems like a rallying cry since that's how it started. Lennon wrote the original version as a campaign song for gubernatorial candidate Timothy Leary, who lost to Reagan in 1970.
See, Leary and Lennon were both big fans of certain substances. The song got a little bit of radio play, but Lennon wanted to do more with it, bringing in the other lads to make it one of his eventual favorites.