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Song Stories

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”

Jim Croce | 1972

While serving in the National Guard — which Croce joined to avoid fighting in Vietnam — Jim Croce was inspired by a fellow guardsman he occasionally sang with. "This one particular guy, who was named Leroy Brown, decided to go AWOL," said Croce's widow, Ingrid, "and actually came back to get his check." In the song, the "baddest man in the whole damn town" gets toppled by a jealous man. In real life, Leroy Brown was handcuffed and tossed into the brig. Ingrid Croce added, about her husband, "He ended up writing a song about this bad, bad Leroy Brown because he was just so cool."

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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