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Song Stories

“Sail Away”

Randy Newman | 1972

At first blush, “Sail Away” sounds like a love song. But a closer listen to the haunting piano ballad reveals it to be a slave trader’s sales pitch to Africans for life in America, with the cruel irony being that none of his promises prove to be even remotely true. Newman told Rolling Stone this kind of bait and switch is his M.O. "One thing with my music," he said, "you can’t sit and eat potato chips, and have it on in the background at a party."

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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