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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

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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