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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

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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