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Song Stories

“The Boxer”

Simon & Garfunkel | 1969

Paul Simon has said that “The Boxer,” Simon and Garfunkel’s 1969 lament about an impoverished and defeated kid from New York, was somewhat influenced by the Bible, which Simon was reading at the time. “That’s where ‘workman’s wages’ came from,” he said. Simon also claims that the song itself may be a metaphor for how he sometimes used to feel in the face of criticism: like he was being beat up. An extra verse not present on the original recording sometimes makes its way into live renditions. Also of note: Simon sang “The Boxer” on the first Saturday Night Live after 9/11, in honor of New York.

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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