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Song Stories

“Fire”

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown | 1968

From its opening declaration "I am the god of hellfire," "Fire" was one of the strangest one-shot psychedelic rock hits, Arthur Brown alternating between croons and operatic squeals as he sang his ode to raging blazes amid demented organ swirls. Brown performed the song onstage in a helmet of fire, which led to a life-threatening situation when a crewman poured lighter fluid over the singer at the 1967 Windsor Jazz Festival. "When he lit it, I commenced to incinerate," he reminisced in Rolling Stone. "People from the audience had to pour beer over me to put out the flames."

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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