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Song Stories

“Keep On Pushing”

The Impressions | 1964

Inspirational to both Bob Marley, who heard it in Jamaica, and Bob Dylan, who included the album from which it sprang on the cover of his own Bringing It All Back Home, Curtis Mayfield drew his own inspiration for his civil-rights-era soul song from church music. "All I needed to do was change 'God gave me strength...' to 'I’ve got my strength.' Nothing else needed to be changed," he said. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mayfield's song was the walk-on music for the speech by then-Sen. Barack Obama, who brought the theme of change full circle with his presidential victory in 2008.

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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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