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Song Stories

“Free Radicals”

The Flaming Lips | 2006

With lines including "You’re not so radical/In fact, you’re fanatical," this track from At War With the Mystics was rumored to be directed at the band’s unhappy tour with Beck, though frontman Wayne Coyne struck that one down. "No! I’d tell you if it was. But he’s not fanatical in any way," he said. "He’s not awake enough. I would love it if he was a freak." Instead, the hard-riffing track offers a freakout of its own amid the album’s blissed-out psych-pop, nodding back at the Oklahoma City band’s noisy early years.

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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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