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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

“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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