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Song Stories

“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”

Bob Dylan | 1965

"It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" was the kind of piano-based blues you might have heard at a Western saloon, Bob Dylan affably observing the world from a mail train, apparently trailed by a girl. Originally titled "Phantom Engineer," it was recorded in both fast and slow versions, Dylan opting to go for the latter. One of the pianos on the released take was played by Al Kooper, who stated in Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Bob Dylan: The Early Years, "It's a wonderful mood – you can slice the mood on that song."

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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