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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

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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