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Song Stories

“Planet Rock”

Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force | 1982

One of the more unlikely pop-song fusions to ever to hit the charts, “Planet Rock” brings the Bronx-based hip-hop of Afrika Bambaataa and his funky crew together with the futuristic synthesizer sounds of Kraftwerk. A DJ who often spun the German electronic band during his sets, Bambaataa asked keyboardist John Robie if he could play like Kraftwerk. Robie said, “I’ll tear that s--- up.” Jazz pianist Jason Moran recorded a version of this song in 2002 and often performs it live.

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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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