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Song Stories

“Message in a Bottle”

The Police | 1979

"Roxanne" was the band's first bona fide hit, and Sting wondered if he could top it, which is where the genesis for the Police's second big hit came from. "Then I wrote 'Message in a Bottle,' which was better than 'Roxanne'," the Police frontman said. Sting admitted he developed the lyrics around the title. "I don't write the first line of a song. It's a mistake. Then you have to come up with a second. I had this 'Message in a Bottle.' What's 'Message in a Bottle' about? It's usually about some guy with ragged trousers and a beard on a desert island."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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