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Song Stories

“Sweet Emotion”

Aerosmith | 1975

Bassist Tom Hamilton and vocalist Steven Tyler get the official songwriting credit, but “Sweet Emotion” wouldn’t be quite as sweet without guitarist Joe Perry's unusual addition to the recording. That “sucking sound,” concocted by producer Jack Douglas, combines a high-hat and backwards clapping, along with the phrase “sweet emotion,” sung by Perry through an “air bag.” (“It’s fun. Anybody can do it,” he said of the voice-box effect.) Tyler has confessed that Aerosmith's first Top 40 hit is about Perry’s wife, Elyssa: “I couldn’t get next to Joe when she was around, which was all the time," he said.

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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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