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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

“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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