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Song Stories

“I Desire”

Devo | 1982

Adapting poetry written by a near-assassinator of a U.S. president is not exactly a common songwriting practice. But that is exactly what Devo did on "I Desire," when they incorporated into the song several verses penned by John Hinckley Jr. -- notorious for stalking Jodie Foster and shooting Ronald Reagan in 1981. As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, "[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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