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

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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