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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

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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