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Song Stories

“Please Don't”

David Byrne and Fatboy Slim | 2010

When David Byrne read about Imelda Marcos's fondness for disco, he immediately began conceptualizing a disco opera, which became the album Here Lies Love. In writing some of the songs about Marcos (who is the wife of Ferdinand Marcos, exiled president of the Philippines, and a politician herself) Byrne turned parts of her speeches into lyrics. "Some of Imelda's quotes say so much," he said. "They were gifts." In this song, electro-pop artist Santigold sings, "Don't let them look down on us/Like they used to do me"--a Marcos-penned line about her hardscrabble childhood and her country's place in the world.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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