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Song Stories

“Maybe”

The Chantels | 1957

A doo-wop ballad with passionate gospel-flavored vocals by 15-year-old Arlene Smith, "Maybe" has in retrospect been regarded as one of the first hit records with trademarks of the girl-group sound. The composition was credited to songwriter, producer and singer Richard Barrett, who plays piano on the record for good measure; he also wrote and recorded the original version of "Some Other Guy," later performed by the Beatles on the BBC. Though the Chantels did not benefit from much promotion, according to Smith, "'Maybe' became popular because Dick Clark got involved, so it went national."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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