Song Stories

“California Love”

Dr. Dre and 2Pac | 1996

Based on a riff from a Joe Cocker song as interpreted by the Ultramagnetic MCs, Tupac Shakur's version went to Number One upon his release from prison in 1995. Seven months before he died of gun violence, Tupac told Rolling Stone he hoped the song would be remembered not for its glorification of thug life but for its celebration of high living: "I want it to be about money," he said.

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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