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Song Stories

“Complete Control”

The Clash | 1979

The Clash recorded "Complete Control" with one of their idols: Jamaican dub producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. But the song couldn't have been less reggae; instead, it's a propulsive punk rant about overbearing management and record-label chicanery. (The title came from the Clash's manager, Bernie Rhodes, who called for "complete control" during one band meeting.) The lyrics are a laundry list of grievances -- beginning with a complaint about how CBS Records handled an earlier Clash single. "We was on tour and 'Remote Control' was put out behind our backs," bassist Paul Simonon explained in 2003. "We were angry, yeah, but 'Complete Control' was funny as hell."

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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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