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Song Stories

“Rock & Roll”

The Velvet Underground | 1970

Lou Reed celebrates the power of "Rock & Roll" with savage glee in the Velvet Underground song of that title, seeing it as the salvation of a young girl when it blasts out of the radio. First issued on the band's 1970 album, Loaded, it gained a new audience when a ten-minute version was featured on Reed's 1974 live album Rock'n'Roll Animal. "'Rock & Roll,'" he admitted in the liner notes to the VU box set Peel Slowly and See, "is about me. If I hadn't heard rock & roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet."

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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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