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Song Stories

“God Save the Queen”

The Sex Pistols | 1977

The Sex Pistols were unhappy with the rosy picture that the British government was painting to outsiders amid the country’s turmoil-filled mid-1970s period, and they sought to set the record straight by penning their own version of the British Commonwealth anthem "God Save the Queen." In the Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury, Johnny Rotten explained, "You don't write 'God Save The Queen' because you hate the English race, you write a song like that because you love them; and you're fed up with them being mistreated." Despite being banned by the BBC, "God Save the Queen" still reached Number Two on the U.K. singles chart (Rod Stewart's "I Don't Want to Talk About It" held down the top spot).

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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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