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Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”

Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”

| May 11, 2014 | 10 Comments

“I’d like to write a great peace song,” Irving Berlin told a journalist in 1938, “but it’s hard to do, because you have trouble dramatizing peace.” Years before John Lennon or Bob Dylan were even born, Berlin took up the challenge of penning an anthem that would inspire his fellow men to live in harmony. […]

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Neil Young’s “Ohio”

Neil Young’s “Ohio”

| May 4, 2014 | 1 Comment

On May 4, 1970, a student demonstration at Kent State left four students dead, one paralyzed and eight others wounded.  The protest, meant to be a demonstration against the Vietnam War, ended when the Ohio National Guard opened fire into the crowd with over 60 rounds for a solid 13 seconds. When Neil Young saw […]

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Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”

| March 31, 2014 | 16 Comments

In memory of Marvin Gaye who died on April 1, 1984—and whose 75th birthday would be April 2—here’s the story behind the enduring classic “What’s Going On.”

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The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

| July 26, 2013 | 6 Comments

On May 7, 1965, Keith Richards woke up in the middle of the night with a melody in his head. He was in a room at the Gulf Motel in Clearwater, Florida. His guitar was on the bed beside him. Fumbling around in the dark, he found his portable cassette recorder on the nightstand. He […]

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Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide”

Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide”

| May 26, 2013 | 17 Comments

The story behind “Landslide” as told by Stevie Nicks: It was written in 1973 at a point where Lindsey [Buckingham] and I had driven to Aspen for him to rehearse for two weeks with Don Everly. Lindsey was going to take Phil’s place. So they rehearsed and left, and I made a choice to stay […]

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“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”

| May 12, 2013 | 2 Comments

By late 1969, Burt Bacharach and Hal David were kings of the pop songwriting game. With over 20 Top 40 singles by their vocal muse Dionne Warwick, cover versions of their songs by an A-Z of artists including Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and Ella Fitzgerald, movie soundtracks, TV specials and a Broadway musical, they’d done […]

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Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”

Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”

| April 6, 2013 | 0 Comments

Merle Haggard often gets name-checked in contemporary country songs. It’s a quick way to tip a hat to tradition and add a helping of honky-tonk cred. Haggard’s 41 No. 1 country hits and place in country’s Mount Rushmore aside, his name personifies the hard life that was once synonymous with the genre. Prison sentences, multiple […]

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Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”

| September 5, 2012 | 19 Comments

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is like a condensed version of the second side of Abbey Road, with makeup and tights. Six minutes of flamboyant patchwork pop—a capella intro, sentimental verses, faux-Italian chorale, a thundering glam-metal climax—it’s a testament to Freddie Mercury’s adeptness as a songwriter and Queen’s musicianship that the disparate parts add up to such a […]

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Jimmy Webb’s Story Behind “The Highwayman”

Jimmy Webb’s Story Behind “The Highwayman”

| August 15, 2012 | 10 Comments

I was in London, finishing an album, El Mirage, with [Beatles producer] George Martin. My friend Harry Nilsson was there, and we were doing some professional drinking. He left my apartment one night, and I went to sleep and had an incredibly vivid dream. I had an old brace of pistols in my belt and […]

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The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song

The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song

| July 3, 2012 | 11 Comments

Andy Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 86. With scores of roles to his credit—from Broadway to the Silver Screen to Matlock—the character that he is, of course, best known for is that of Sheriff Andy Taylor, the loveably laid-back peacekeeper of the fictional town of Mayberry. Anyone who grew up watching […]

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