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Song Stories

“Happy”

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles | 1975

Although Billie Holiday had endured many hardships in life, a scene in the movie Lady Sings the Blues -- based on her autobiography -- inspired Robinson to write this as the film was being made. "One night I was thinking about Billie Holiday and when she first met Billy Dee Williams' character and how that changed her life and made her happy," he said. He finished the song too late for the movie, though, so it was first recorded by a teenaged Michael Jackson and later appeared on Robinson's own album A Quiet Storm.

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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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