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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

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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