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Song Stories

“Mr. Peterson”

Perfume Genius | 2010

Learning, the debut album by Mike Hadreas, a.k.a. Perfume Genius, was filled with personal dirges, including an eponymous song about smoking weed with a high school educator named Mr. Peterson, who later committed suicide. "It is about a teacher I had in freshman year," Hadreas said. "I hadn't thought about what went down for a while. I hadn't thought about a f---ing actual thing in a while. But I got flooded, that song came out." Despite extracting from his real-life experiences, Hadreas said, "to word-by-word take everything literally, I'd suppose would be a mistake."

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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