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Song Stories

“My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist”

The Decemberists | 2001

Colin Meloy's songs encapsulate detailed narratives about other people's lives, but for this one, the Decemberists frontman truly let his imagination run wild. After viewing the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, in which an angel becomes smitten with a female trapeze artist, he got inspired. "I thought, 'Wow, wouldn't it have been amazing to have your parents be traveling gymnasts and what if they had been Chinese trapeze artists?" Meloy told Rolling Stone. "I started with the line, 'My mother was a Chinese trapeze artist in prewar Paris,' and kept going."

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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