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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

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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