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Song Stories

“Sexual Healing”

Marvin Gaye | 1982

After dealing with depression, financial troubles and drug abuse, Gaye went to Belgium to regroup. While there, he hung out with friend and biographer David Ritz, who sensed the inner conflict Gaye faced between his spiritual upbringing and his sex-and-drugs lifestyle. "When I suggested he needed sexual healing, he laughed and quickly agreed," Ritz wrote in Rolling Stone. A rhythm track written by sideman Odell Brown, Ritz continued, would help spark this major comeback hit. "Lyrics came pouring out of me while he sang the melody over Odell's chords. We jammed for a half-hour, and 'Sexual Healing' was written."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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