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Song Stories

“Candle in the Wind”

Elton John | 1973

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the original “Candle” as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe on the classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Though it was a hit in the U.K., the song was not released as a single in the U.S. until its 1997 remake, when it was subtitled “Goodbye England’s Rose” in tribute to Princess Diana, another woman who had a complex public life. “[Tragedy has] happened so much in my life,” John told Rolling Stone. “With John [Lennon], with Gianni [Versace], with Princess Diana, and my friend Linda Stein. Four of my friends have been murdered.” The remake would become the biggest-selling single ever, pushing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” down to number two.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

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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