There was a not-so-pretty story behind this award-winning single. Adele’s “Chasing pavement” received three Grammy award nominations and won one of them but once you learn what inspired this hit single you may wonder whether it was really worth it (from Adele’s point of view, at least). Although I have no hard statistics to back this up I suspect that not too many hit songs were inspired by a blow to the face.
You see, Adele was in a six-month relationship with a (now ex) boyfriend. One day she found out that he had cheated on her. So she went to the London West End bar where her boyfriend was located and confronted him. The confrontation led our illustrious heroine to throw a punch in the face. Yes, she was subsequently tossed out of the bar. Afterward Adele ran through Oxford Street by herself, noting that “He didn’t chase after me! So I was running, just looking at these big wide pavements stretching in front me.” She then asked herself, “What is it you’re chasing? You’re chasing an empty pavement.”
From a musical point of view it’s a good thing we live in an era of mobile phones. Adele used one right then and there to sing and record the words that came into her head, arranging the chords only later after she arrived home.
The best part was that the song went on to win the Grammy award for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
And the worst part? After finding out that many of the songs on “19” were inspired by their break-up Adele’s former boyfriend demanded some of the royalties! She told the British newspaper The Sun, “For about a week he was calling and was deadly serious about it. Finally, I said, ‘Well, you made my life hell, so I lived it and now I deserve it.’ He really thought he’d had some input into the creative process by being a *****. I’ll give him this credit – he made me an adult and put me on the road that I’m traveling.”
Also, it seems the Law of Unintended Consequences was at work as well. Remember how much criticism John Lennon received for composing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” because it supposedly stood for the initials “LSD”? The fact that the title stemmed from a picture that Lennon’s son Julian had innocently drawn at school for a friendly classmate was overlooked… especially since Lennon, of course, really had used LSD previously.
Unfortunately, “Chasing Pavement” suffered something of the same fate. It seems that in America the phrase “chasing pavement” has been used to describe chasing gay men, and that the song was about being gay, a claim which Adele vigorously disputed.