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Song Stories

“Killing in the Name”

Rage Against the Machine | 1992

This opening salvo from Rage set the tenor for the band's career as the song spewed venomously against racism perpetraed by the U.S. establishment. The track's conception began simply, with Tom Morello coming up with the riff while teaching a guitar lesson. It ended up a modern anthem, being covered live by Phish, remixed by Deadmau5 and used by Bill Hicks in one of the political comic's final standup performances before he died. "We were melding hard rock, punk and hip-hop, and I was the DJ," Morello told Rolling Stone. "It allowed me to emulate a lot of noises that I heard on Dr. Dre and Public Enemy records."

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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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