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Song Stories

“Star Spangled Banner”

Jimi Hendrix | 1969

The U.S. national anthem is familiar to most people as a patriotic tune played by military bands, or sung reverently in an operatic style. At Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix reinvented it from top to bottom as a showcase for what could be done with extreme, high-volume electric guitar distortion, his riffs often interpreted as mimicking weapons explosions and bombs dropping from the sky. Asked by Dick Cavett on national television shortly after the festival about whether the version was blasphemous, Hendrix simply stated, "I thought it was beautiful."

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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