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Song Stories

“Hickory Wind”

The Byrds | 1968

Roger McGuinn, who added Gram Parsons to the Byrds lineup for Sweetheart of the Rodeo, considered this haunting evocation of a Southern childhood -- written by Parsons during a cross-country train trip from Florida to L.A. -- to be his best song. Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers mainstay Chris Hillman concurred: "If Gram had never written another song, 'Hickory Wind' would've put him on the map. If you know the guy's life story, however he conjured up that scenario, it's right at home. Gram was shuffled off to prep school, lots of money ... that's a lonely song. He was a lonely kid."

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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