Songwriters will often take inspiration from real life whether it be emotions, relationships, or the culture surrounding them. On occasions, however, music’s origins can be less expected. Said inspiration can come from the 1997 John Cusack/Nic Cage/John Malkovitch action blockbuster “Con Air.” Here are 10 songs you never even realized were inspired by, based on, or about the film.
*NSYNC — “No Strings Attached”
Strings like a relationship? Get real. They meant no strings attached like no hidden details in John Malkovitch’s deal they planned to never actually make good on, and no hidden details in the terms of release they offer Nic Cage at the end which they will actually make good on. It couldn’t be clearer.
John Lennon — “Imagine”
They told John Malkovitch he was a dreamer, but he wasn’t the only one imaging a place with no extradition policy, and above him only sky. And as the true visionary Lennon was, he wrote this song about “Con Air” 26 years before the movie even existed.
We Are The Union — “I Am Like John Cusack”
Bet you didn’t even realize the singer from We Are The Union once had to stop a group of criminals from hijacking a plane and escaping capture… she also once traveled back in time via a hot tub at an old ski resort, but that’s not where the song title came from, that was just coincidence.
Tal Bachman — “She’s So High”
Though Tal says she’s so high, he has since admitted he gender-flipped so the song would be viewed as a love song and people would not realize the real meaning, as he was referring to the dead body with a message written on it that gets thrown out of the plane so he is literally so high.
Jay-Z — “99 Problems”
You know how people refer to large vehicles with female pronouns? So are you really surprised that ‘girl problems’ is referring to the issue of John Malkovitch hijacking a plane full of convicts? If you were a coworker, wouldn’t you feel bad for the cop dealing with a ‘con air?’ I would. Even if I had 99 problems of my own, I’d still feel bad for him… son.
Fiona Apple — “Criminal”
When she says ‘what I need is a good defense,’ people thought she was referring to her own wrongdoings plaguing her emotional stability, when in reality she was referring to how Nic Cage’s character was wrongfully imprisoned and ‘needs a good defense’ because he’s starting to ‘feel like a criminal.’
Green Day — “St. Jimmy”
It’s a common misconception that the “American Idiot” rock opera was about a boy leaving his small town and getting lost in the underbelly of the city. Literally everyone knows it’s about the 1997 masterpiece “Con Air.” And never more evident than in “St. Jimmy” when he shouts ‘I am a son of a bitch and Edgar Allen Poe.’
The reprinting of the lyrics omitted the commas, but he was saying he is like Edgar, Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in “Men In Black,” Alan Grant, the archaeologist from “Jurassic Park,” and Cameron Poe, from “Con Air,” obviously.
Foo Fighter — “Learn To Fly”
Dave recently claimed the song was simple: he wanted to become a pilot… this was obviously meant to obfuscate the true meaning of the song, as he says ‘I think I need a devil to help me get this right,’ blatantly referring to how John Cusack needed to collaborate with one of the cons on the plane to ‘get things right.’
Also, the bad guys have to ‘learn to fly’ at some point because they kill the pilot, so, checkmate again.
Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Around the World”
Most people would assume that when Anthony Keidis sang “ding dang dong ding dang dong dong doo dang dong” on the outro of “Around the World” it was just more of the beefy singer’s funk-rappin’ nonsense. But in fact, Keidis said that it was actually a misquote from John Malkovich’s character “Cyrus the Virus” that he heard while watching “Con Air” with water lodged in his ears.
Carly Simon — “You’re So Vain”
While many have speculated that the piano pop classic is about Mick Jagger or Warren Beaty, among others, Simon has stated repeatedly that the “you’re” refers to Dave Chappelle’s “Con Air“ character Pinball Parker. Much to Carly’s chagrin, the lamestream media has refused to acknowledge this explanation of her song.