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Song Stories

“Gimme Shelter”

The Rolling Stones | 1969

The Rolling Stones released "Gimme Shelter" just days after Meredith Hunter's murder at the Altamont festival in 1969 -- fitting, because the song has become nearly synonymous with the violence and turbulence of the late 1960s. Keith Richards reportedly wrote "Gimme Shelter" in just 20 minutes, then crafted the ominous introduction using an acoustic-electric guitar modeled on one of Chuck Berry's favorites. The finishing touch came from American soul singer Merry Clayton, who added an eerie wail to lines like "Rape, murder, it's just a shot away." "It was a very rough, very violent era," Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. "That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that."

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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