Peter Gabriel was living with actress Rosanna Arquette at the time “In your Eyes” was written, which has made it a commonly repeated theory that she was the inspiration for the song. Not only that, but she also allegedly inspired the Toto song “Rosanna,” which was released while she was dating the keyboard player Steve Porcaro. Both Peter Gabriel and Toto have been less than forthcoming in confirming the speculation about their songs’ origins, but that hasn’t stood in the way of the received wisdom regarding them. How many women can claim to be the muse behind not one but two very popular rock songs?
Rosanna Arquette has reinvented herself as an actress many times over the last three decades, taking both serious and quirky roles over the years. Among her most memorable performances are a starring role alongside Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan and an unforgettable cameo as a drug dealer’s wife in Pulp Fiction.
“Jennifer Juniper” by Donavan
Oh, those Boyd sisters! Older sister Pattie Boyd was the inspiration for “Layla” as well as a number of other songs by Eric Clapton and George Harrison, and here we have younger sister Jenny Boyd inspiring classic folk and psychedelic rocker Donovan’s 1968 song “Jennifer Juniper.” Like her older sister, Jenny was a well-known model, but she quit the business when, along with much of the rock community she was hanging out with, started visiting India and getting into Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Donovan and Jenny were never a couple, though, at the time, he wished they were. Boyd ended up with Mick Fleetwood of the classic rock band Fleetwood Mac, marrying and divorcing him twice after having two daughters with him. She later married and divorced King Crimson’s drummer Ian Wallace. After her modeling days were over, she got a Ph.D. in psychology and worked as a clinical consultant, co-authoring the book "Musicians in Tune."
Donovan, on the other hand, has been going strong in the music business for over half a century. While he never again reached the heights of fame and success that he had in the 60s, still he has barely slowed down. He is best known for the hits “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Atlantis.”
“Girl from the North Country" by Bob Dylan
People can’t seem to agree who was the woman behind Bob Dylan’s early composition “Girl from the North Country.” Many are convinced it was his high school sweetheart, the fellow Minnesota native Echo Helstrom. Others insist it was another early girlfriend, actress, and activist, Bonnie Beecher. The third woman who is often mentioned as the source for the song was Dylan’s long-time girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, who was with him as he progressed from a relatively unknown folk singer to one of the most important cultural icons of his generation. Her political beliefs influenced Dylan to write songs with a more political bent, and it is she who is walking arm-in-arm with him on the cover of "The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan."
Musically, “Girl from the North Country” was inspired by Bob Dylan’s recent trip to England is his immersion in the various styles of folk music prevalent there. He met many of the local folk musicians and based this composition partly on a local version of the classic “Scarborough Fair.”
“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
Carly Simon wrote “You’re So Vain” in 1972, and it was a number 1 hit single. And for more than 40 years now, controversy and speculation have raged: Who is the song about?? One thing that Simon has made clear is that the three verses are about three different conceited men, and it has long been assumed and acknowledged that the second verse is about actor Warren Beatty. In fact, he still claims that the whole song is about him. Carly has denied that her ex-husband, musician James Taylor inspired the song, nor did Mick Jagger. Both had been suspected of being behind the song. Music industry executive David Geffen was also a speculated choice, but Simon says she never even met him. Other names often bandied about as having been vain enough to inspire “You’re So Vain” are David Cassidy, Cat Stevens, and David Bowie.
Carly Simon has been a major force in singing and songwriting since the 1970s. She has had a number of comebacks and has managed to stay relevant after many others have passed into obscurity. Among her best-remembered songs, in addition to “You’re So Vain,” are “Haven’t Got Time For the Pain,” “Coming Around Again,” “The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of,” and “Let the River Run,” for which she won an Oscar.
“I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC & The Sunshine Band
One might be forgiven for assuming that when a super successful disco pioneer sings “I’m Your Boogie Man,” he’s talking about himself. But the truth is that the song was written in praise of someone to whom the band felt they owed their success. A DJ from the band’s hometown of Miami was the first to play their song “Get Down Tonight” on the air. It would go on to become their first number-one hit and launch them into superstardom at the very top of the world of disco. The DJ’s name was Robert W. Walker, and he was the inspiration for “Boogie Man”.
Harry Wayne Casey (KC) started KC & the Sunshine Band as a disco and funk outfit in 1973. By 1975 they had the first of five chart-topping hits, the last of which ushered in the 1980s, which would also be the decade that would see their decline. Disco ruled for a while, but when the backlash came, it was severe.