Song Stories

“Tales of a Brave Ulysses”

Cream | 1966

After visiting islands made famous by Homer's Odyssey, artist Martin Sharp (who would go on to do the cover art for Cream's Disraeli Gears) wrote this poetic tune to the melody of "Suzanne," specifically, Judy Collins' cover of Leonard Cohen's song. Through a mutual acquaintance, Sharp got the lyrics to Eric Clapton, who worked them into a guitar riff inspired by the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City." The song marked Clapton's first use of the wah-wah guitar effect. "I always liked that song," said Jack Bruce, who sang it. "I think it was the wah-wah that did it for me. I'm a sucker for wah-wah."

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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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