Song Stories

“All Night Long (All Night)”

Lionel Richie | 1983

Inspired by his own Caribbean vacations, Lionel Richie channeled the reggae/calypso beat everyone danced to there. To offer a worldly feel, he threw in Caribbean, Swahili and Spanish words. And where he couldn't find the right international words, he simply created his own ("Tambo liteh sette mo-jah! Yo! Jambo jambo!"). In a strange twist, Iraqi residents were jamming in the streets to this song the night U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad in 2003. "The answer is, I'm huge -- huge in the Arab world," said Richie, who opposed the war. "The answer as to why is, I don't have the slightest idea."

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Song Stories


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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