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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

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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