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Song Stories

“Personal Jesus”

Depeche Mode | 1989

Depeche Mode's breakthrough single in the U.S. was based on a surprising source: Priscilla Presley's 1985 biography Elvis and Me. “It's about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships,” Martin Gore, the song's composer, said. “How everybody's heart is like a god in some way, and that's not a very balanced view of someone, is it?” Coincidentally, Elvis' fellow Sun Records artist Johnny Cash recorded a stripped-down version of the song for his Rick Rubin-produced American IV album from 2002.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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