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Song Stories

“A Nickel and a Nail”

O.V. Wright | 1971

Southern soul singer Overton Vertis Wright first sang gospel before switching to secular music in 1964. This is one of several songs Wright did with producer Willie Mitchell and his acclaimed Hi rhythm section, which recorded many of Al Green's biggest hits around the time this track was done. "When you gave O.V. Wright a song, the song belonged to him!" Mitchell would later point out about Wright, who died in 1980 at age 41 from a heart attack after years of drug abuse. "Nobody'd ever do it that way again! In fact, I think O.V. Wright was the greatest blues artist I've ever produced." 

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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