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Song Stories

“Mr. Tambourine Man”

Bob Dylan | 1965

Who was "Mr. Tambourine Man"? Many of Bob Dylan's listeners assumed the song was about a drug experience, as the Tambourine Man puts the singer in a spell and takes him on a trip through an exotic, poetic landscape. But in 1985, Dylan insisted it was inspired by Bruce Langhorne, the folk musician who accompanied him on guitar during the recording of the song. "He had this gigantic tambourine," Dylan remembered. "It was as big as a wagon wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind."

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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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