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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

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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