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Song Stories

“Help Me, Rhonda”

The Beach Boys | 1965

While recording this song about a guy seeking a rebound, the Beach Boys were repeatedly interrupted by Murray Wilson, father to band members Brian, Dennis and Carl. As heard on tapes that surfaced on bootlegs, a clearly intoxicated Murray--claiming "I'm a genius, too" --condescendingly tells the band how to perform the song. The awkward argument that ensued between Murray and Brian revealed their strained father-son relationship. "I think the father did nothing but hinder them," producer Nick Venet told Rolling Stone, "but I think he assumed a lot of credit."

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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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