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Song Stories

“Just Out of Reach”

Solomon Burke | 1961

Although Solomon Burke is regarded as a soul legend, his early-1960s hit "Just Out of Reach" was a plaintive country lament, his frustrated longing heightened by melodramatic female backup singers and a brief spoken section. The song came to the attention of Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler through Billboard magazine editor Paul Ackerman, who'd also recommended Atlantic sign Burke. "I gave [Burke] that song, 'Just Out of Reach,' at the first session," said Wexler. "So Paul Ackerman was responsible for our getting both Solomon Burke and the song that made him."

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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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