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Song Stories

“Love Is Strange”

Mickey & Sylvia | 1956

Spiraling, penetrating blues-rock riffs that inspired countless young guitarists highlighted "Love Is Strange," Mickey & Sylvia playfully dueting and teasing each other in the calypso-flavored verses. The hit was an adaptation of a song the pair heard Bo Diddley guitarist Little Joe Williams playing backstage. "They called it 'Paradise,'" emphasized Diddley in Rolling Stone. "I wrote the words, and I named it 'Love Is Strange.'" Leonard Chess of Chess Records, he added, didn't want Bo to record it, and "that's why Sylvia got the song. I let her record it, and I published it under my first wife's maiden name."

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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