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Song Stories

“IRM”

Charlotte Gainsbourg | 2009

Fashioned to mimic the sound of a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, "IRM" (the French designation for the brain scan) grew out of Gainsbourg’s love of the sound of the clickety-clack of medical machinery. The IRM album project also marked the fulfillment of two goals for the singer: to document a traumatic experience, and to record an album with Beck. Though her co-creator and producer didn’t necessarily know the details of her water-skiing accident and resulting cerebral hemorrhage (which lead to the IRM of the song's title), he somehow knew how to handle the material. "Beck had a way of guessing what I was thinking and feeling without me telling him," said Gainsbourg. "We never discussed these things explicitly."

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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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