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Song Stories

“One of Us”

Joan Osborne | 1995

When Eric Bazilian's fiancée asked him how songs were written, the Hooters singer produced a 4-track demo of a guitar riff that had been in his head. When she asked for words, he came up with lyrics that wondered "What if God was one of us/Just a slob like one of us/Just a stranger on the bus." The next day, he took it to Joan Osborne, who adopted it for her in-progress album. "Some people are pissed off that I would sing a song that represents God as anything remotely human," she told Rolling Stone.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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