From the timeless portrait of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, women have been the muse of transcendent art throughout the ages. Popular music has also been filled with songs that defined generations. Here are eight great songs and the women who inspired them.
Hey There Delilah
The Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” hit no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 2007. Singer Tom Higgenson wrote the song after meeting American distance runner Delilah DiCrescenzo. She was his guest at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Cry Me A River
After a telephone argument with then-girlfriend Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake went into the recording studio and poured his emotions into his R&B song,”Cry Me A River.” The recording won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Ritchie Valens wrote “Donna” for his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig, and it rose to no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Donna” was only one of three singles released during Valens’ lifetime, which was cut short when he died in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Supermodel Christie Brinkley was the inspiration for Billy Joel’s biggest hits of the 1980s. Joel and Brinkley were married for nine years. Their daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, followed in her parents’ footsteps, becoming a singer, songwriter, and pianist and being involved in the fashion industry.