Song Stories

“Start Me Up”

The Rolling Stones | 1981

Introduced by one the Rolling Stones' signature fuzzy chord riffs, "Start Me Up" rode a leeringly enthusiastic, ready-for-anything Mick Jagger vocal to become the band's biggest hit of the 1980s. It started as a reggae song way back in 1975, getting reworked into a rocker at the Some Girls sessions before finding a place on 1981's Tattoo You. "When they started playing it this time, it wasn't a reggae song, it was what we know today as the great 'Start Me Up,'" said Some Girls engineer Chris Kimsey in Keith Richards's autobiography Life. "It was Keith's song; he just changed it."

Song Stories Main Next

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »