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Song Stories

“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

Nina Simone | 1967

Co-written by Billy Taylor and originally recorded by the jazz piano legend, this civil rights anthem was redone many times over, but none as famously as by Simone, who released it on her Silk & Soul album. Freedom was a value dear to the singer; she explored the theme time and again in her own compositions and reflected it in those she recorded. "I'll tell you what freedom is to me," she said. "No fear. It is something really, really to feel -- like a new way of seeing something."

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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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