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Song Stories

“Out of Left Field”

Percy Sledge | 1967

After Percy Sledge helped put Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on the map with "When a Man Loves a Woman," local songwriters Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham got in on the action, writing songs for Sledge in hopes of getting them cut and released as singles. One of their tunes, "Out of Left Field," was only a mid-chart hit, but it's now considered a soul classic. "People say it's a baseball metaphor, but I think of it as a farm metaphor, like an old tractor bringin' some hay in," said Penn. "I love it 'cause it's a heck of a way to say, 'She walked in out of nowhere.'"

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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