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Song Stories

“Say Man”

Bo Diddley | 1959

Bo Diddley and his maracas player Jerome Green were fooling around in the studio trading good-natured insults to a blues-Latin beat when "Say Man" was taped, resulting in Bo's only Top Twenty hit. Although it sounds like a spur-of-the-moment jam, Diddley maintained it was written down long before it was recorded. "A lot of the things I did in the Chess studios, we were just goofin' around," he said. "They played it back, and it shocked all of us! Of course, they cut out all the dirty parts."

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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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