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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

“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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