National Geographic News
A photo of Royals player George Brett.

This photo of Kansas City Royals star George Brett appeared in the July 1976 National Geographic.

PHOTOGRAPH BY TED SPIEGEL, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

A photo of the singer Lorde.

PHOTOGRAPH BY FRAZER HARRISON, GETTY

Marc Silver

National Geographic

Published January 27, 2014

And the Grammy for "best song inspired by a National Geographic photo" goes to ... "Royals," by Lorde.

At last night's awards ceremony, the New Zealand singer-songwriter won the Grammy for song of the year for "Royals." Here's her account of the song's origins, from an interview with VH1: "I had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs. He was a baseball player and his shirt said 'Royals.'" Her song observes, "We'll never be royals ... It don't run in our blood," reflecting on the luxe lives of past kings and queens.

The photo of George Brett was taken by Ted Spiegel and appeared in a July 1976 article about Kansas City. Spiegel, who photographed for the magazine for 25 years, spoke to our reporter Chelsea Huang about his recollection of the image: "What I remember was sheer adulation. There was one girl who worked in the Kansas City Royals office who had what we would now call a large reaction to George Brett. Her eyes melted just gazing at him. He had star power. He was an all-American in image and in bat. All those hands holding the baseballs are adulating fans, and in Lorde's interview, she talked about how the Royals were rock stars in their day."

If Lorde—whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor—seeks more inspiration for future songs, Spiegel invites her to look at his photos in the National Geographic image collection.

24 comments
Ray Fuller
Ray Fuller

she sure ain't no royal, but she got talent. she can sing.

Rich Andrews
Rich Andrews

I never heard of lorde until the grammys. she will do well.

Eva D.
Eva D.

wow i love that song so fasinating!!



Scott Wolfe
Scott Wolfe

i dont know if i would be telling people that 


David Close
David Close

Inspiration, I suppose, Comes from many sources... !

Connie essington
Connie essington

Love this!  George Brett is still with the Royals, and I remember how we adored him always for his great spirit.  Someone called him the spark plug of the team back the.

Richard Fusco
Richard Fusco

Cool... She may not be Royalty but is getting there  ;)

David Beeman
David Beeman

Yeah, 1976.   I thought it was a kind of young-looking George Brett.  Thanks for the 2014 story.

Meenakshi Mohanty
Meenakshi Mohanty

Thanks for describing Lorde,the singer and song writer.And it is because of your photograph that inspired her to write her famous song,'Royals'.By the way,you are inspiring thousands of lives around.

J. Barry Neas
J. Barry Neas

And the Grammy for "best song inspired by a National Geographic photo" goes to ... "Royals," by Lorde.

D. Myers
D. Myers

I liked the song before I knew the story behind it,  but I love it now.  Growing up I followed two teams, the Oakland A's and the Kansas City Royals.  I live in Arkansas now and I still follow KC even though this is Cardinal country.  Thanks for the memories, NatGeo and congrats Lorde on your win. 

Lloyd Bligh
Lloyd Bligh

That's what happens when it all comes together, the Song writer saw the inspiration of the moment in time that the Photographer saw for the reason to snap the Picture. Thanks for being alert!

Barb Larson
Barb Larson

Hey baseball fans... Who Knew??? Bet we'll be hearing this at The K this summer!

Carlos Cabana
Carlos Cabana

Absolutely unexpected ! ... that song inspired by that photo !


I thought that the song was inspired by the real royals.


Truth is, I haven´t paid attention to the lyrics, ... just the melody and the arrangement are so powerful.

I can clearly remember the first time I heard - and was smitten - by this fantastic song. Then, when I saw the face of the voice at the Grammy Awards ceremony, I was captivated by her strange beauty and mesmerized by her fascinating body language.


I do hope there is much more inspiration for Lorde in Mr. Spiegel´s photos !!! ...

Jeff Hertrick
Jeff Hertrick

Lorde's song "Royals" was inspired by a National Geographic photo.

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