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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

“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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