Song Stories

“I Shall Be Released”

Bob Dylan | 1971

According to Allen Ginsberg, at the time when Dylan first cut this song during the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions with the Band, he was experimenting with “writing shorter lines, with every line meaning something.” The Band’s own version of this tale of a prisoner yearning for freedom actually came out first, on 1968’s Music From Big Pink. David Crosby said that during his nine-month imprisonment in the Eighties, he comforted himself by singing the song’s chorus. “I wrote it on the wall,” he told Rolling Stone. “It took me hours. But I did it. And I remember taking heart from it.”

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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