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Song Stories

“It's a Man's Man's Man's World”

James Brown | 1966

Playing on the title of the 1963 comedy blockbuster flick It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, James Brown's song began its musical life as the single "I Cried," by Tammi Terrell, released on his Try Me Records label, before he used the same dramatic melody for his own classic. The lyric concern male dominance with a caveat -- "that it would be nothing without a woman or a girl." The idea for the song was sprung from something Brown's then-girlfriend Betty Jean Newsome said. "And riding along in the car, I wrote 'It's a Man's World,' but I let her have a piece, because that is where the idea came from," said Brown about sharing the songwriting credit with Newsome. Its tenderness is also evidenced by the number of men and women who've seen fit to record it since.

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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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