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Song Stories

“Okie From Muskogee”

Merle Haggard | 1969

Did Merle Haggard really mean it when he lambasted the Woodstock generation while upholding small-town Southern values? In 1971, he claimed the song’s reactionary stance started out as a joke: While he and his band were driving through the Oklahoma town of the song’s title, he sang out what would become the song’s opening line – “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.” However, in 2009, Haggard told Rolling Stone, “The reason I wrote it is was because I was dumb as a rock.” Then, in further contradiction, he added, “Another reason is it needed to be written.”

Find out what surprised Merle Haggard about Barack Obama when they met.
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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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