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Song Stories

“Rumble”

Link Wray | 1958

Famously raw-sounding (after the guitarist punched holes in his amplifier cones) and banned by many radio stations despite the fact that the song had no lyrics, Link Wray’s “Rumble” took its name from Phil Everly’s suggestion that it sounded like a street fight. “It was mean,” Wray once said. “They banned ‘Rumble’ in New York City and Boston, but it just made it sell more.” Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend are just two of the many guitar players who have cited the menacing instrumental as a critical inspiration.

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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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