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Song Stories

“Blank Generation”

Richard Hell | 1977

When Richard Hell came up with verses for "Blank Generation," he certainly didn’t know he was creating a slogan and an anthem for a movement, nor did he bank on the Sex Pistols nicking his idea for their own "Pretty Vacant." Hell says he was "pretty p---ed off” when he first heard the Pistols song, pointing the finger at the punk provocateurs' manager and mastermind: “Malcolm MacLaren had stolen that whole attitude from 'Blank Generation.' But ideas are free property," Hell said. "I stole s---, too." Good thing he owned up to his own theft, as much of "Blank Generation" bears a more-than-coincidental resemblance to "The Beat Generation," a 1959 novelty single recorded by poet Rod McKuen.

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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