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Song Stories

“Simple Song”

The Shins | 2012

Though James Mercer put the Shins on hiatus for five years, it took him no time to pen Port of Morrow’s lead single, a sweet, nostalgia-riddled cheer up for a former (and possibly current) love interest. “I wrote the lyrics in the space of 15 minutes, on the living-room floor,” he told Rolling Stone. But not everything went so smoothly. “I think I jinxed it by calling it ‘Simple Song,’ because it was the most difficult track to get finished.” Musically, it’s complex — the song boasts power pop flourishes and guitar squiggle blasts while Janet Weiss (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) pounds away on drums.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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