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Song Stories

“Running on Empty”

Jackson Browne | 1977

Sometimes the best lyrical metaphors arise from literal events, such as in the case of this title track to Jackson Browne’s breakout album. The singer-songwriter was inspired by the reading on his car's fuel gauge while motoring to the studio each day to make his previous album, The Pretender. “I was always driving around with no gas in the car,” he said. “I just never bothered to fill up the tank because – how far was it anyway? Just a few blocks.”

Find out about flying panties inspired a young Jackson Browne to become a musician.
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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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