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Song Stories

“Lola”

The Kinks | 1970

The forceful opening guitar chords and rousing "Lo-lo-lo-lo Lola" chorus gave the Kinks a Top 10 hit, but even in 1970 listeners could figure out that the "Lola" who so transfixed singer-songwriter Ray Davies was a transvestite. A passing reference to Coca-Cola in the lyrics would have prohibited the song from gaining BBC airplay, forcing Davies to fly to London in the middle of a U.S. tour to rerecord the phrase in a new version as "cherry cola." "The song is actually meant to show that things aren't always what they seem," Davies owned up.

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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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