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Song Stories

“In the Still of the Night”

The Five Satins | 1956

Not a smash hit upon first release -- it was actually a B side -- this doo-wop staple by a vocal group from New Haven, Connecticut, went on to become one of the style’s most iconic tunes. In fact, its nonsense refrain (“doo wop, doo wah”) is often cited as the origin of the term “doo-wop” itself. Written by lead singer Fred Parris while on Army guard duty, and recorded on the cheap in the basement of a hometown church, complete with a muffled rhythm section and off-key backing vocals, the song nevertheless went on to top New York oldies station WCBS’ countdown of all-time oldies favorites year in and year out.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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