Ariana Grande and Mac Miller dated from 2016 (when Grande made the big announcement on social media) until 2018. After they broke up, Mac Miller released a very explicit song called “Cinderella” that includes many racy details of his relationship with the “Thank U, Next” singing sensation. The song also features rapping by Ty Dolla $ign. Grande has admitted that even some of the x-rated lyrics do in fact describe her relationship with Miller. So even though the relationship is no more, at least we all have this song forever and ever to remember them as a couple.
Sadly, just months after the breakup and the release of “Cinderella”, Mac Miller died of an apparent drug overdose on September 7, 2018. In her latest hit song “Thank U, Next”, her first number-one song, Ariana Grande calls Miller an “angel”.
“The Weight” by The Band
The Band made history with their debut single “The Weight”. Though it wasn’t a huge success on the charts at the time, it has certainly aged well. It has since been named among the greatest songs of all time in numerous polls and is a staple of classic rock radio. Many of the names mentioned in the song are real-life friends and acquaintances of the band members. For example, “young Anna Lee” was a long-time friend of drummer and singer Levon Helm named Anna Lee Amsden. And “Crazy Chester” was an offbeat dude who would hang out at Ronnie Hawkins’ bar in Fayetteville.
The Band helped create the genre known as roots rock with their debut album Music From the Big Pink and in the ensuing decade carved out a piece of rock ‘n’ roll history. But even before they were The Band, they had achieved considerable success and fame as the backup band for Ronnie Hawkins and, even more famously, Bob Dylan.
“Walk Away Renee” by The Left Banke
The Left Banke had a bass player named Tom Finn and the bass player had a girlfriend named Renée. But the keyboard player, Michael Brown, was in love with her too, and ended up writing at least three songs about her: “Walk Away Renée”, “Pretty Ballerina”, and “She May Call You Up Tonight”. Michael says that when it was time to record the song, Renée was in the studio, so his hands were shaking so badly he couldn’t perform; he left, returned to record his part after she had left.
For decades, the identity of this mysterious Renée was unknown. Finally, in 2001, she was identified as Renée Fladen-Kamm, a San Francisco-based singer and vocal coach. Brown described his feelings for Renée at the time as being “mythologically in love” in the sense that there was nothing really going on outside his imagination. Sounds unpleasant. The co-author of “Walk Away Renée”, Tony Sasone, recollects the song’s origins rather differently, however. According to him, he wrote the lyrics, and chose the name Renée as simply a random French-sounding name because the Beatles had had a hit with the French-named song “Michelle”.
“Donna” by Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens is perhaps best remembered today for his foot-stomping, Mexican-American Spanish language classic “La Bamba”. But his biggest hit on the charts was actually the sweet love song “Donna”, written in honor of Donna Ludwig, Valens’s high school romance. It was a Billboard number two hit in 1959. Valens and Ludwig remained in touch as his career took off and he went on tour. When he died tragically in the same plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper on February 3, 1959, Donna stayed in touch with his family and was a great comfort to them.
Unbelievable but true, Ritchie Valens was only 17 years old when he was killed. His shockingly brief music career, lasting only eight months, was nevertheless enough to win him a place among the timeless legends of rock 'n' roll.
“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills and Nash
The only thing better than writing a song in honor of your beloved is writing four, then putting them together into a classic suite of songs. That’s exactly what Steven Stills did for the 1969 debut album of his folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The lady in question was fellow folk singer-songwriter Judy Collins, whom Stills dated from 1967 until 1969. The title of the song is a play on the homophonic nature of the word “suite”, since the composition is a musical suite, and it can also be pronounced as “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes”, since Collins was known for penetrating blue eyes.
Crosby, Stills, and Nash famously performed the song at the Woodstock festival. Still wrote the song as his relationship with Collins was coming to an end and the lyrics for the most part deal with his feeling about her as well as the coming breakup.