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Song Stories

“Icky Thump”

The White Stripes | 2007

What's an "icky thump"? was the most-asked question upon the earliest airing of the title and lead-off track of from the duo's sixth album. "It's actually 'ecky thump,'" explained Jack White to Rolling Stone, "a Northern English phrase meaning, 'What the heck?'" that he learned from his British-born then-wife, Karen Elson. As a song, it's atypical for the Stripes: Not only does it have a synthesizer, but it also has political heft, confronting America's contentious immigration policies. The Grammy-winning performance also served as a swan song: It was the last time a single by Jack and Meg White as the White Stripes topped the charts.

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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