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Song Stories

“Down Under”

Men at Work | 1982

Singer Colin Hay has said this song — which has become an unofficial anthem for Australia — was a celebration of the land down under even as it was being over-developed by greedy people. Featuring Aussie slang words like "fried-out kombi," "head full of zombie" and "chunder," the song prompted a lawsuit when a publishing company said the famous flute riff plagiarized a copyrighted campfire song, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Flautist Greg Ham — who took to drugs and alcohol after the decision — died two years later at 58. "I think it had a big impact on him," Hay said.

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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