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Song Stories

“Sweet Baby James”

James Taylor | 1970

After a stint in a mental hospital and an ongoing battle with heroin addiction, James Taylor returned to his family's home on Martha's Vineyard, seeking their help. "It just may be possible that we can't find anything more comfortable than the time that we had as a family," he told Rolling Stone. Around that time his brother Alex--a former band mate who also taught Taylor how to sing--had a baby, who he named James. In return, Taylor wrote this "cowboy lullaby," as he's called it, for his new nephew.

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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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