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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

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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