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Song Stories

“Threshold Apprehension”

Black Francis | 2007

Before jumping to his death, Dutch painter Herman Brood lived a life of sex, drugs and rock & roll. Where bands such as U2 have dedicated live performances to Brood after his 2001 passing, Charles Thompson, a.k.a. Frank Black — who here reverted to his Black Francis moniker from his Pixies days — dedicated an album to Brood, including this Pixies-like punker about sex, drugs and suicide. "I have my own impressions as to what his painting 'Threshold Apprehension' was all about," he said. "My song 'Threshold Apprehension' has nothing to do with the painting except that it, and my record Bluefinger, has everything to do with my impressions of Herman Brood."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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