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Song Stories

“Between the Wars”

Billy Bragg | 1985

With no backing but his own electric guitar, Billy Bragg sang "Between the Wars" as a first-person narrative of a miner hoping his hard work would be rewarded by care from the government his efforts helped support. Bragg wrote it while Welsh miners were on strike, his interest in penning politically conscious material spurred by Leon Rosselson's folk tune "The World Turned Upside Down." As Bragg remembered, he wrote half of it in a friend's bathroom, "and she wanted to use the bathroom. So I finished the last verse on a bench on Wimbledon Common."

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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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