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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

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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