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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

“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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