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Song Stories

“Piss Factory”

Patti Smith | 1974

As a teenager, Patti Smith worked summers at a depressing factory that made baby buggies. While inspecting pipes and reading Rimbaud's A Season in Hell in the factory basement, Smith dreamed of a better future -- "I'm gonna be somebody," as this song later declared. "I was saying that as a young person, I still had desire -- desire to do well," she told Rolling Stone. "Perhaps some of the people in the factory lost all desire. I can understand how that can happen ... What 'Piss Factory' is about is: someone who in the midst of the dead felt alive."

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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