Song Stories

“Born Under a Bad Sign”

Albert King | 1967

One of the most famous down-on-my-luck blues, "Born Under a Bad Sign" found Albert King thankful for bad luck if the alternative was no luck at all, his laments punctuated by some trademark stinging guitar licks. The song reached a wider audience when it was covered by Cream on their 1968 hit album Born Under a Bad Sign. "Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then," explained William Bell, who co-wrote the song with Booker T. Jones, in Soulsville U.S.A. "I said, 'Hey, we've never had a blues tune done about astrology. I got this idea that might work.'"

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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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