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Song Stories

“Heartbreak Hotel”

Elvis Presley | 1956

Elvis Presley’s moody first single for RCA was not cut from the same rockabilly cloth as his Sun Records material: Sun founder Sam Phillips called “Heartbreak Hotel” “a morbid mess.” Written by Mae Boren Axton (who was Elvis’ former publicist) and Tommy Durden, Presley’s first of many Number Ones and the biggest-selling song of 1956 was based on a true-life tale. A news story in the Miami Herald reported a man’s suicide in a hotel: He left a note consisting solely of the line, “I walk a lonely street."

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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