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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

“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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