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The true story of ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; it’s not a love song

Por: Shantal Romero17 de noviembre de 2022

Many have dedicated this song to someone special, but did you know that Karen O wrote it thinking about heartbreak?

If you considered yourself a ‘rebel and punk’ during your teens, then maybe one of your favorite bands was Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the group led by Karen O. The band, also formed by guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase, rose to fame for their garage rock songs. But, they also had very melancholic songs that marked a whole generation. There is one song in particular that many thought was about love, and many more even dedicated it to their SO.

Do you know which one we’re talking about? Yes, “Maps,” the song that makes you move your head and hands as if you were playing the drums. If you thought it was about intense love, you’re not wrong, but spoiler, Karen O wrote it in an extremely sad moment provoked by a long-distance relationship she lived with her then-boyfriend, so it’s not entirely a lovey-dovey song.

The story behind “Maps”

It all started between 2001 and 2002 when the New York trio released two EPs; one with the same name and the other titled Machine. Success came quickly for the band, causing them to go on tour to promote their songs. On that tour, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were accompanied by Liars, an Australian band led by Angus Andrew, who later became Karen O’s boyfriend.

The couple was more than in love when suddenly, in 2003, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released the album Fever To Tell and had to go on tour again. This caused a break because of their respective jobs (he also went on tour), as they even lived together in New Jersey, and the long-distance relationship crushed the vocalist’s spirits.

She vented her emotions by writing “Maps,” a song in which she showed the pain she felt when seeing her beloved one hanging out with other people; she missed him so much.

“It was quite a hectic time with us touring and my boyfriend being far away with his band. The line ‘They don’t love you as I love you’ was like, ‘Why are you out there with them when you should be with me?’ It’s about missing someone,” Karen O said.

A curious part of the story is that the artist took the fragment of an email she sent to Angus Andrew and then put it in the song: “he was on tour, and we never got to see each other. And I hated that. So, I emailed him: ‘Why can they be with you? ‘They don’t love you as I love you,’” she said.

Moreover, in the music video where there is a scene in which she cries, Karen O confessed that her tears were real because, on the day of the recording, she was going to show her boyfriend the song she composed for him, but he arrived hours later.

“They were real tears. My boyfriend was supposed to come to the shoot: he was three hours late, and I was about to go on tour... I didn’t even think he was coming, and this was the song I had written for him. He finally showed up, and I got really emotional.”

Another curious fact about “Maps” is that fans claim that the name of the song refers to the phrase: “My Angus Please Stay.”

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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