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Song Stories

“Iron Man”

Black Sabbath | 1971

Despite "Iron Man" containing one of heavy metal's most recognizable guitar riffs -- courtesy of Black Sabbath's mighty mustachioed guitarist, Tony Iommi -- one shouldn't read too much into the song's lyrics, which appear to be about a doomed part-human/part-machine time traveler. "We smoked a lot of dope, so that might be why some of the lyrics are a bit unusual," Iommi recounted in his autobiography. "Like 'Iron Man,' which came from a comic about a robot which became alive." The song continues to resonate in the decades since it was first released: A live version won a Grammy Award in 2000 and could be heard in the end credits of the 2008 action movie about the comic-book superhero of the same name.

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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