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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

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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