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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

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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