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Song Stories

“Mustang Sally”

Wilson Pickett | 1966

Soul journeyman Mack Rice wrote and recorded this song first in 1965. He originally titled it "Mustang Mama," until his friend Aretha Franklin took note of the "ride, Sally, ride" chorus. Rice recalled, "She said, 'Why don’t you change the song to "Mustang Sally"? 'Cause that’s what you’re sayin’ a lot of.'" It didn’t become a national treasure until Wilson Pickett put his spin on it one year later, but his version almost never saw the light of day, thanks to a last-minute studio mishap. Pickett had already finished recording the tune when the tape flew off the reel and broke into pieces. Undeterred, seasoned studio engineer Tom Dowd hand-taped the reel back together.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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