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Song Stories

“Mellow Yellow”

Donovan | 1966

With an arrangement more suited to a woozy Salvation Army band than a rock group, the giddily psychedelic non sequiturs of "Mellow Yellow" wormed their way just shy of the Numner One spot. Backup vocals were contributed by Paul McCartney, who had used a phrase by Donovan in "Yellow Submarine." The "electrical banana" in "Mellow Yellow" was a vibrator, but it fueled rumors that you could get high by smoking the peel of that fruit. Country Joe McDonald revealed himself to Donovan as the source of that urban legend many years later, telling the singer, "By the way, man -- the 'mellow yellow' s---? The bananas? It was me."

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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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