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Song Stories

“O-o-h Child”

The Five Stairsteps | 1970

A family act from Chicago’s South Side who were signed to Curtis Mayfield’s Windy C label, the Burkes started as four brothers and a sister ranging in age from 13 through 17 and helped inspire the formation of another Midwestern family group — the Jackson 5. Soaring on inspirational tones and the promise of a brighter day under the sun, “O-o-h Child” would be the Five Stairsteps' only Top 10 hit. Al Kooper has called it “one of [his] favorite singles.” More than 20 years after its original recording, “Ooh Child” was used memorably in Spike Lee’s film Crooklyn as well as in John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood. Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” incorporated the melody into its mix.

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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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